Something Different

On Friday Elena turned five months old. I decided that we needed to get out of the house, so I emailed rowing coach Caroline to see if she wanted to have lunch. Even though she was busy with work, she said that she could go if we stayed close to campus. I chose TerraBurger, a new fast food place. Caroline had already been there, but said that she liked it and agreed to go there.

As we were getting ready to go out, I thought that something about Elena looked different, but it took me a minute to pin it down. All of a sudden I realized that her mouth was closed, with her tongue inside. This caused her little cheeks to puff out and gave her face an entirely different look. She also had an expression of concentration, as if she’s making a concerted effort to keep the tongue in. Perhaps she’s observed everyone around her and decided to fit in by literally reining in her tongue*.

Since Friday, Elena has continued her tongue containment exercises, and Jenny and I have performed further observations. Sometimes she leaves her mouth a little bit open, and it appears that she’s keeping the tongue in by pressing the tip of it against the roof of her mouth; we’re not sure if this is her primary method for lingual control, but it does seem to be one she uses frequently. Occasionally her mouth will be closed, when all of a sudden her tongue peeks out, as if it’s escaped from unwilling confinement.

Returning to the matter at hand, on the way to TerraBurger Caroline informed me that two of our former rowers would be joining us. She also said that one of our acquaintances worked there, and as we drove up she noticed his car in the parking lot. We discovered that he was the only cashier working at the time. They were experiencing somewhat of a lunchtime rush, so I staked out a table while Caroline made the orders. I asked her to let Ben (the cashier) order for me.


He must have ordered double jalapenos for my burger, to which I normally wouldn’t object. However, I did have some difficulty eating such a sloppy burger with Elena in my lap grabbing at it all the time. When one of the ex-rowers finished up, I handed Elena off and ate the last few messy bites. In any case, it was a very good burger, and according to their claims also local and organic. If you’re in Austin, I recommend stopping by. They also serve excellent regular and sweet potato french fries, along with fountain sodas sweetened by real sugar.

Elena was very cute and garnered lots of compliments from Caroline and the girls. We showed off a couple of her tricks and almost gave Caroline a heart attack when I balanced Elena in my hand. We didn’t do it for very long, and Elena didn’t fall, so everything was fine.

In the evening when Jenny got home, we took Elena swimming. She loves the water, as evidenced by all of her kicking and splashing. One time she tried a big dolphin kick while I was holding her. I didn’t anticipate it, and the lift of her hips sent her face briefly into the water. Jenny admonished me to be more careful, but there was no harm done. I don’t think there’s anything I could have done differently to keep her face clear, without having her all the way out of the water. In fact, I think Elena was trying to dive in. She’ll be a water bug for sure.

*Infants are already human, so I don’t think you can anthropomorphize them. So what should I call the attribution of rational motives to Elena’s unintentional behavior?

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