Mmmm, chocolate . . . mmm, cherries . . . mmm, $26 Williams-Sonoma Heart Baking Pan. Well, why not buy it if you really love somebody? AT LEAST THAT'S WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO THINK.

Last week I took the Nut to the doctor for a checkup, which has been happening every three months or so, you'd think the first eighteen months of life were, like, a time you could explode or spontaneously start parsing Shakespeare's sonnets, so we'd better keep a really close eye on you, Little Dr. Kaczynski. Anyway, our pediatrician, who as I've mentioned before looks exactly like Philip Seymour Hoffman, ends up repeating himself a lot. I'm sure he has a lot of patients, so he has to make sure we've all heard about the same dumb pair of lawyers who put Nestle's Strawberry Quik into their baby's bottle. That was last year; now we're getting the over-eighteen-months-old bits, like this one:

Doctor: "How's his vocabulary?"
Me: "Well, he's starting to put two words together, like 'more milk.'"
Doctor: "He's right on schedule. The next six months are going to blow your mind. He's going to start understanding plurals and possessives and abstract notions of time and space, and before you know it he'll be speaking in the pluperfect subjunctive."

In case you're sitting there blankly trying to remember what the pluperfect subjunctive is (and it's been awhile, hasn't it? or did they even teach you grammar at that reform school?), the doctor puts on a soft little accent and says, "Mother, I should like another glass of milk."

We've heard the pluperfect subjunctive bit twice now, and I think we can expect it at least one more time.

It's been hard recently because Jackson gets really frustrated trying to communicate about things he doesn't have the words for. I mean, he knows the words, he just won't/can't say them. The "s" sound is a particular challenge, and "nose," for example, inspires a fit of shyness. He will point to his nose when asked, but if you say to him, "Say nose!" he crinkles up his face and hides it in your armpit. I have also learned that he will have a total freakout unless I let him exercize a fair amount of choice. I let him pick what shoes he wants to wear, for example, and what color socks, and what sweater, and which stuffed animal gets to ride with him in the car. I do not let him choose, however, not to take a nap, or not to take a bath, or not to go to bed at all, ever. I've decided that he can make the rules when he gets big enough to knock me out cold, which, if he keeps up with the head butting, could be later today. But even after that he'll still have to take on the EMT personnel, several cops, and his dad.