When a Scientist Observes His Own Kid

A baby has come to the Renaisauce household. Her name? ” Human post-natal subject 0001 Jr.”

You will be happy to know that my first-born child, a beautiful daughter, was born just two weeks ago (which is roughly a year and a half in Internet time, for those of you who set your watches by that.). She was born at 12:24 pm, weighed 3.64 kg (8 lbs) and measured 48.3 cm (19 in.) long, although the constant motion and flex of her legs may have made that measurement inexact. She was born with dark hair, which was unsurprising given the common genetics of her parents, and big, dark eyes, which, I am told, will change color over the next six months. I was very surprised to find that she had abundant hair on the rims of both ears of the same dark color, which I hope disappears on its own because it would be very difficult to shave.

My wife and I have made careful observations over the past two weeks about her behaviors, almost all of which center around her digestive system. We had begun to take regular notes about feeding durations and intervals, until we realized that she seemed to be running a simultaneous sleep deprivation experiment on us. The result was a psychological unwillingness on the part of her parents to maintain some personal hygiene standards, much less complete copious records.

While in the womb, our daughter was something of a well-established hypothesis, a theoretical human. We could only examine her physically through the impressions that she would make on my wife’s stomach. We did have the imagery data obtained through ultrasound, confirming that what was inside looked as we would imagine, but during that time she was much more of an abdominal anomaly than a person. Her reality changed from theoretical to practical, from hypothesis to law, at her birth, when she was permanently out of the womb and in our arms.

I have had some fun speculating on all the little experiments that we can perform on our child. Before she was born, we were limited to attempting Pavlovian conditional learning experiments in which I would reward each of her kicks with three distinct taps with my fingers, thereby training her to respond every time I tapped with a kick (results- unsuccessful.) Now that she’s out, a slew of experimental possibilities are at our disposal.

We have observed, for example, that she is highly photophilic. She enjoys being turned outward to see the world instead of nestled inward, and is much more intrigued by what’s outside the window than what’s inside. We’ve noticed that she has a preference for a certain altitude, as she can tell when the parent holding her is sitting and not standing, even when a rocking rhythm presumably equivalent to that of walking is applied. After reading Oliver Sack’s recent book Musicophilia, we like the idea of trying to develop perfect pitch in our daughter, but we have formed no coordinated plan to do this, and I think it may already be too late, as the sound she seems to enjoy most is the air conditioner fan. We have, however, endowed her with an excellent sense of rhythm, and have found that her optimal rocking rhythm occurs at a frequency similar to the Darth Vader March in Star Wars.

Most intriguing of all, the details of her development as a child are far outshined by the details of her humanity. No amount of knowledge on the state of her neural development, or the adjustments of her senses and bodily functions are even close to being as interesting as the unique bond that she shares with us just by existing. Despite having many other things to do, our new favorite thing is to stare at her, talk to her, sing to her, hold her, move her little arms, and to digitally record as many moments as possible. Experimentation gives way to observance and awe, much more like contemplating art, or better yet, life itself. Our daughter will grow up having no doubt that she is loved, for that, above all, is and forever will be the primary motivator of all of our actions.

Although, the idea of training her to begin washing dishes in response to a 440 Hz tone and a flashing green light is still not out of the question.


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