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My Son, The Eel

In my junior year of high school, I took the Occupational Aptitude Test designed to reveal which professional fields I was well suited for. I didn't have much faith in these exams, and had even less when my results came back. My highest score was for "zoology" where I scored an impressive 95%; my weakest subject was the one I only scored 14% on, and, somehow, it was "animal sciences."*

I've never really understood how I was able to pull off this feat. But based on The Squirrelly's six month checkup, I'd beginning to suspect that my ability to score all over the chart might have a genetic component.

Let's do the numbers

  • Length: 28 inches. That puts him in the 90th percentile! If this continues into adulthood, he will be well over 6 feet in height!
  • Weight: 16 1/2 lbs, the 30th percentile. So, we're lookin' at a tall, scrawny athletically trim guy.
  • Head circumference: Another 16 1/2, this time in inches. Which puts him in the -- 5th percentile? Duh-wha?! So: tall, slender, and, not unlike his dad, unable to hold more than a single thought in his head at any given time.
The doctor assures us that his current stats will likely have no correlation to his adult dimensions. But in the meantime we're gonna switch from "The Squirrelly" to "The Lamprey" and start renting him out as a chimneysweep.

He also has two teeth now, a fact he's happy to remind us of whenever we let our fingers wander too close to his maw. Frankly, I'm finding the advent of teeth to be a little disquieting. I mean, it's weird enough watching the stuff he was born with get bigger, but now he's generating entirely new body parts? Great -- now there's even more baby to take care of. The only upside is that it has me wondering if, as we keep extending the average lifespan, we'll someday discover that the human body grows still more appendages somewhere down the line. I'm rooting for wings at 140.

[Aside! Now that everyone who isn't the parent of a tottler has gotten bored and stopped reading, I can plug these two great children's CDs: "You are my Flower" and "You Are My Sunshine" by Elizabeth Mitchell. Check out youaremyflower.org and click "listen." I'm fond of "Freight Train."]

We've also started feeding him solid foods, although I guess "feeding" is something of a misnomer since it implies that some of the rice cereal actually goes down his gullet. As I move the gruel towards his cryhole, The Squirrelly likes to "help" by opening and closing his mouth at random intervals and wildly waving his arms around in an attempt to grab the spoon, all of which makes the process about as easy as threading a needle during a downpour while riding a roller coaster drunk. Fortunately, the approximately 1200 hours I spent playing Zaxxon as a teen left me uniquely qualified to tackle this challenge. Weird how that high school occupational test failed to pick up on this aptitude

* A second test claimed it would reveal the specific occupation the test taker would excel in. My #1 recommendation was for "model." This was a written exam, obviously.

Posted on August 31, 2004 to The Squirrelly


That pose on the couch makes him look at least two.

Also, Zaxxon! That game was way too fast on my 286, and I never did figure out orthographic projections.

Posted by: Gopi on September 1, 2004 11:57 AM

He looks much, much older than 6 mos. in that first picture! He is adorable!

I literally laughed out loud at your description of feeding him. Thanks. This day has kinda sucked and I needed a good laugh. :-)

Posted by: misty on September 1, 2004 12:43 PM

Babies are awesome. Thank you for sharing the Squirrely with us.

By the way, in that first pic, I think he's waiting for you to turn on SportsCenter and hand him a beer.

Posted by: Mickey on September 1, 2004 12:49 PM

And do you make really cool train and aiplane noises?

I find it a little more like that time Luke was flying in the trench and trying to get the torpedoes in the hole. You just have to use the force to get the spoon to hit the mark.

Posted by: wolf on September 1, 2004 1:04 PM

My god! No wonder his head isn't growing, it's simply a feeding tube for his monstrous ears! Not that I have a problem with big ears, all the better to hear you with my dear.

Just kidding, he's a cutie. But the proportions of small children continue to amaze me. I used to have the hugest teeth when I was a kid. They get a lot smaller when you have to keep shoving your foot in with them.

Posted by: Amy on September 1, 2004 1:16 PM

Dang! That kid is cute. Way to go.

Posted by: Hez on September 1, 2004 2:01 PM

When I returned to work after maternity leave and brought in "the boy", as we fondly dubbed him, my boss screamed "Oh my god! His head is SO BIG!". Thank god for modern anesthetics. He stopped tipping over around age 6.

Posted by: kbow on September 1, 2004 2:22 PM


the eyelashes...

Posted by: pippi on September 1, 2004 2:39 PM

I remember that test! I was so excited to take it because FINALLY I would have some direction. When it came back it said I would do well at whatever I chose and I was equally suited for all occupations. Uh, yeah, thanks for NOTHING!

Posted by: Shawn on September 1, 2004 2:43 PM

Just wanted to pipe in to say that on that test in high school, I was told I'd be a taxidermist.

A taxidermist.

You'd probably have to know me to know how ridiculous that was; but considering I love to read and write and am working on my masters in linguistics right now, I just don't see the correlation.

Posted by: Erin on September 1, 2004 3:42 PM

My son?
Length: 30th percentile
Weight: 25th percentile
Head: 95th percentile

Translates: Normal with a HUGE CRANIUM

By one year they couldn't even mark his head size on the chart.

Posted by: el on September 1, 2004 4:43 PM

Kids music?
John Lithgow believe it or not. Sharon, Lois and Bram makes you want to yank out your eyeballs and stuff them into your ears after the 30th listen. Mr. Lithgow however never ceases to entertain.
That could be just me though.

Posted by: Daejin on September 1, 2004 4:50 PM

Helpful parenting hint: Mix a little cottage cheese in with some applesauce. Fills 'em right up and they sleep like logs, all through the night. Our pediatrician gave that one to us.

Posted by: Dave on September 1, 2004 6:29 PM

my head was off the charts when i was a babe as well. it never did get in proportion with the rest of my body, but you can only tell if you actually take my head in your hands or try to put a hat on me.

btw- "to root" in australian slang means "to have sex". so whenever i read/hear americans say "i'll root for you" etc, i get a good immature chuckle out of that...

Posted by: livie on September 1, 2004 8:02 PM

I love the food all over his face, how did I get here? shot. I have a brand new nephew and somehow I got a picture of him where it looks like he's dancing the cabbage patch while an invisible hand is pushing on his head. ahhh, babies

Posted by: michelle on September 1, 2004 8:36 PM

Look at those eyelashes!

Posted by: srah on September 2, 2004 4:20 AM

i took that very same test in high school and my results were the same as yours: tops at zoology, suck at animal science.

but then second had me at chief dietician. which i probobly could have been if maybe i had realized when i was younger that i really loved cooking. but alas, i went off to be some sort of artist loser type.

Posted by: james on September 2, 2004 5:29 AM

look at him in the couch! he's so cute! even with food all over his face, he's still adorable.

Posted by: amy on September 2, 2004 5:57 AM

Your kid really is quite a character. Good lookin too!

Posted by: Em on September 2, 2004 6:26 AM

Absolutely adorable! You're not doing him justice by calling him a lamprey. Maybe that "model" result applies to him.

Posted by: Reuven on September 2, 2004 6:35 AM

trick of the trade for feeding first solids to babies....you have to have the bite ready before the mouth opens. then when the mouth opens you swoop it in there and you can kind of scrape it off on their top gums. they'll still manage to spit some out but this technique really works!

he's absolutely adorable! my son's stats were very weird too and they do grow out of it.

Posted by: jen on September 2, 2004 6:54 AM

the third picture, the one with the food? i died a little from laughing too hard. the kid is adorable. as are you, with your fine self. your Queen is one lucky lady!!!

Posted by: Heather from the Blogs on September 2, 2004 7:25 AM

Wow, what a cutie. I'm jealous he has teeth. Ours is 8 1/2 months and still not a one.

I've been appreciating everyone's comments about size too. Our boy is 17% height, 25% head and only 4% weight.
I'm 5'8" and big; Dad is 6'6" and also big. It looks like we borrowed our kid from a gang of leprechauns (but not the evil kind).

Good luck with feeding, it does get better. Soon he will discover kiddie crack, aka Cheerios, and all will be well. Seriously, our son reacts to Cheerios like he was Keith Richards and they were heroin.

Posted by: Liz on September 2, 2004 9:47 AM

My son had virtually the same exact stats at his last appointment. My poor boy also has some incredible ears. He does have hair though, LoL.

Also, oatmeal seems to be far more appetising than that rice crap. Also less likely to make them constipated. And really, there is nothing sadder than a constipated baby, trust me.

Had to comment on this:
"Helpful parenting hint: Mix a little cottage cheese in with some applesauce. Fills 'em right up and they sleep like logs, all through the night. Our pediatrician gave that one to us."

You have one strange pediatrician. Considering babies should not be given dairy foods until they're at least 1 year old, and the fact that babies just starting on solids don't know how to chew lumpy food, and will thus choke on the lumps in said cottage cheese, that is some messed up 'advise.'

Posted by: amy on September 2, 2004 10:02 AM

Give the tot his own spoon to play with while he's being fed. This helps alot with the grabbing of the spoon with the food on it. I speak from experience.

Posted by: Dave on September 2, 2004 10:48 AM

I love both those Liz Mitchell albums too! As does my son and husband.
Sometimes she tours with Dan Zanes, another great kids' musician. Look for albums by him, and by Ralph's World (I forget Ralph's last name, but they're all filed under Ralph's World anyway).
The common connection is all of these singers were performers before they had kids, then they turned to making kids' music that they could enjoy instead of barely tolerate.

Posted by: Robin on September 2, 2004 10:52 AM

These pictures, while completely adorable, remind me how very little I've been doing the past 15 months.

Posted by: brittney on September 2, 2004 11:46 AM

he looks exactly like you!

Posted by: bb on September 2, 2004 3:35 PM

1. Adorable Squirrelly. Sorta makes me wish I had one--for about five minutes, to gawk at, make adorable cooing noises, and then hand back to his parents when the fussy-noises begin.

2. I took that test too. I was told I was uniquely qualified for a military career. My mom was so angry at me that she still, to this day, accuses me of taking a dive on that test. (I am now 34.)

Posted by: gladys on September 2, 2004 9:04 PM

Good lord that baby is long. My kiddo is only 5 inches taller and more than a year older. I think a cage match, while tempting, is out of the question though, once you factor in the motor skills issue.

Posted by: mimi smartypants on September 3, 2004 11:56 AM

Thanks for the photos. Dude, I didnt realize you were actually Keifer Sutherland. Way to go Keifer.

On a more serious note, Chicago songster Ralph Covert also makes good kids music that parents can stand.

Posted by: larry on September 3, 2004 1:02 PM

Amy, amazingly, my kid never choked on the cottage cheese and we were able to sleep through the night because it kept her satisfied. I don't know how we made it without you.

Posted by: Dave on September 3, 2004 8:39 PM

My son's head was 15" at birth. According to the OB, he's only ever delivered one other baby with a noggin that big. Normally I'd be proud, except that that head came out of *me*. He also grew long and skinny, was 96% in height and 2% in weight at one point. But we've been stuffing him by putting heavy cream in his bottles and that's helping him gain weight.

I can confirm Dave's experience about giving him a spoon (or two) to hold while feeding him. It makes for a lot of dishes but easier meal times.

Posted by: KC Lemson on September 4, 2004 11:51 PM

that is one lanky small headed dude...

Posted by: Anonymous on September 6, 2004 4:59 AM