Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Scientific Mystery

I just finished an excellent book by Bill Bryson about his experiences
in Australia. Several times, he marvels at the various poisonous
animals that live there - jellyfish, snakes, and spiders - and that
none of them have an evolutionary reason to have such a vicious bite.
In other words, they neither hunt nor are hunted, and yet for some
reason they have adapted incredibly venomous mechanisms, far beyond
what survival would necessitate. It is literally, as Bryson calls it,
"overkill."

Which brings us to our son, Aaron. Perhaps his ability to cry, like
that of all babies, is innate, embedded in his DNA by his ancestors,
who learned that crying was necessary when they were helpless babies
to get the help they needed to survive. But the way he cries seems
such overkill. When a far softer and less shrill cry would put us
into motion to get him what he needs, he always choose a louder and
more piercing alternative. There are times when I practically burst
out in laughter, because I am inches away from him with his bottle,
seconds away from feeding it to him, and yet he will howl like the
closest help is miles and hours away.

Like the jellyfish, snakes, and spiders were to Bill Bryson, my son is
to me: a scientific mystery.

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