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  • A story from the early 1980s, shortly after I'd learned a small range of words. My parents had just learned something, too. They'd learned that one of Nature's great compensations for parents, considering all the inevitable trials of parenting, is the ability to conduct experiments on the baby. In this case, my father Joel decided to teach me about colors, and he started small, with red and blue. Approaching the crib with two oversized crayons, he started to present each of them, speaking slowly and loudly. Red crayon: "RED!" Blue crayon: "BLUE!" He wasn't sure how often to repeat this information, so he kept at it for a while before deciding to begin The Big Test. Silently, he held up the red crayon.

    "BLOOO!" I shouted.

    Maybe he thinks "blue" just means "color," or "crayon," Joel thought. So he held up the blue crayon.

    "RRRRRED!" I roared.

    We went through the lesson again, but my test results did not improve.

    According to Joel, his next thoughts were, My child, my poor child. What if he turns out to be an idiot?

    He looked down worriedly at the crib. I was rolling around, convulsing with laughter, only pausing to scrunch up my face and stick out my arm -- as though anxiously presenting, for his edification, a colorful crayon.
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