My wife and I are very, very fortunate to have jobs with paid sick leave and flexible schedules – so when the little man caught yet another cold and spiked yet another fever, we felt bad for him but otherwise just ran out “the kid’s too sick for day care” playbook. Which is when he did something that wasn’t in the playbook: he diagnosed himself.

We were at the breakfast table having yogurt when he very pointedly told me “ear hurt.” This kid talks constantly, but usually just one word at a time, and often with some prompting – this was out of the blue and extremely direct. Stunned, I asked for clarification. “Are you saying something hurts?” He nodded (“yes” is the only word he doesn’t say via speaking, for some reason). “Can you show me what hurts?” He pointed to his right ear and said “ear.” Convinced this was not toddler chatter, I got on the phone with the doctor, and sure enough, when we took him in later that day, there was goo in his right ear, the beginning of an infection. The boy’s powers of observation extend even to his own ear canal.

This bug took a few more days to get under control, but fortunately other than the “ear hurt” it was pretty manageable: he stayed in good spirits throughout, and that meant lots of time to try out our new kitchen mixer, a dual birthday/anniversary present from/to Sonya and me. Sonya’s first project – a focaccia – was absolutely perfect, tasting and looking just right. I tried a brioche, which was light and fluffy and probably the best dough I’d ever made. The young fellow helped by adding in a little butter to the dough, and mostly by watching the mixer swing back and forth at medium-high speed and shouting “Wow!”


The kid insists on being part of everything, which is just what we’d hoped would happen. In fact, if I make any mention of “kitchen” or “cooking,” he immediately says “apron?” because he and I have to have our aprons on before any cooking can begin. He also suggests his own cooking projects – one night this week after dinner, he turned to us and said “juice? make?” So we made juice. He put the fruits and veggies in himself.


Now fully recuperated, our almost two year old has picked up a new late-winter pastime: walks in the snow with Mama. He roars with laughter when he can toss a snowball into the air, or kick the snow in his path. Just so long as he doesn’t catch cold and start the cycle all over again.