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Common Language
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My son sits in his high chair (white
plastic from Ikea), face smeared with organic
summer vegetables in baby-friendly
mashed form, and in between bites he


Open-ended vowels, a few
consonants here and there: Ah na
na ma ma mum. He looks very serious but
then he occasionally giggles, and I
wonder if he's commenting on the quality
of the food (which I sampled; it's
pretty foul). Eight months old
and already a critic. I think about
how, after a day of unusual excitements
(a plane ride, a book signing, one
of the too many times he's had surgery
already on his eyes), he shouts and
babbles and grumbles and earnestly
explains. My wife and I always say he's

telling us about his day. It's amazing

watching him drink down the world, and is
it any wonder he tries to talk
it over, talk it through, talk to us
the way we talk to each other? He's trying
to invent a common language from first
principles. He's unlocking
one of the great secrets of the human
universe here, and kid, believe me,

I'm listening.

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