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A Piece of My Mind
May 26, 2010

The Denver II

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2010;303(20):2012. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.623

I can remember the moment clearly. I had just arrived home after a day in the operating room on my medical school surgery rotation and was scarcely out of my scrubs before I scooped up my 8-month-old daughter and began tickling her Buddha-like belly. As she wriggled and squealed, my mother-in-law—who took care of the baby while I was in the hospital—made an announcement: “Eleanor learned a new trick today. Eleanor, where is Mommy's nose?” And my daughter—who so far had only “Dada” and “Mama” in her repertoire of words—did the unthinkable. She pointed to my nose. I was over the moon. It is possible that no mother in the history of parenthood had ever been so proud of her little one's accomplishments. She knows my nose! She understands language! She can follow a command! It was one of the first concrete demonstrations of my daughter's verbal understanding, and—like many parents—I chose to rack it up as evidence of her formidable, budding genius.