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Today the family is attending the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago. It is Everett’s first scientific conference, though he is not presenting. It is also the first time in a few months that we have shared a hotel room with him. At bedtime we went through his normal ritual and put him in the crib but he cried intensely and I couldn’t bear it so we turned the lights out and laid him on the bed between us, hoping that he would fall asleep and we could return him to his crib. For a few minutes he was quiet and it seemed like it might work. Then I felt a hand on my face, followed by a finger up my nose. Then a voice. “Dada? Hi Dada…birdie? Birdie? Birdie? Birdie? Birdie? Cow…moooooooooooooo! Owl…hoo hoo! Hoo hoo!” I successfully suppressed laughter for a while, but those of you who have tried this know that doing so will only delay the inevitable, and once I started it turned into bed shaking laughs. Then Melissa started laughing because I was, and then Everett sat up and we collectively agreed that this was not going to work. He went back to his crib and we all eventually went to sleep.

During the trip we visited Mari and Eric and Eli in Chicago:

Also during this trip we noticed that Everett started putting his fingers in one or both of his ears while we were talking to him. This could have been an attempt to tune us out, but it turns out that he also does this while he is alone and making his own sounds, so a more likely explanation is that this was his first experiment, during which he was exploring how sound is modulated by opening or closing the ear canal. We might have to wait a while for him to develop the vocabulary to report his conclusions, but one thing that we concluded is that the perennial question “where did I come from” leads to some pretty unsatisfying answers with regard to who children become and the steps they take along the way. Fingers in the ears is just one of many curious things we have watched as he develops. His brain is now a teeming mass of neuroplasticity, a condition we strive to recreate in adults who experience disease or injury, in the hope of duplicating this period of joyful creativity and exuberant exploration but with fewer temper tantrums.

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