Wednesday, August 20, 2008

He scratches and he scratches

Sonny's taken to scratching his head - and we're scratching our noggins over it.

He usually does it when he wakes up, though sometimes he seems still half-asleep. He'll rake his hand rapidly over his forehead and head, so sloppily that it sometimes isn't clear if his fingers aren't making contact with hair rather than scalp. Occasionally, he'll make little grunting noises, but mostly it's a silent routine accompanied by spring-like contortions of his body. He'll do it five or six times, then the urge will melt away.

Now, if we see an adult scratch his head, a couple of obvious explanations come to mind. One, the fellow has fleas, dandruff or some such affliction. Two, he's puzzling something out and is engaging his thinking-engines, since for some reason, "scratching one's head" is a universal sign of intellectual distress.

But what of a four-month old baby? Our main suspect is cradle cap (read our blog post about our encounter with it by clicking here), the condition in which bits of his scalp, with hair attached, bubble up and then peel away. It's nothing serious, medically-speaking, and our applications of olive oil appear to have had some effect, but it would presumably result in some itching in the scalp.

Insect bites of some sort is another possibility, and we do indeed see some very small red dots on Sonny's forehead, though they don't look like the damage wrought by any insect that we're familiar with. It might even be a case of too much baby shampoo, though the brand we use is supposed to be baby-safe. But none of these theories explain why the scratching only comes just after Sonny wakes up. Surely, the itching wouldn't confine itself to 'after-sleep' dosages?

There's a chance, then, that Sonny is simply evolving another bizarre mannerism to go along with his pesky thumb-sucking, body-flipping and all the rest chronicled in these posts. Even the youngest of us, after all, might begin to differentiate ourselves with unique gestures, peculiarities and actions. "I'm me, indissolubly myself, and I do things differently from anyone else," is the message being broadcast.

A tad too high-falutin' for a little baby, you say? Well, give me a better one and we'll scratch ours.