Brilliant author, bumbling dad

Reading The New York Times magazine this weekend, it was nice--after reading about how video games are turning our kids into cyborgs--to find excerpts from Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1851 journal entries. Reading his charming account of a bumbling stint as the solo parent of a 5-year-old while his wife was away reminded me that, in lots of ways, kids haven't changed all that much:
Thursday, July 31: At about 6 o'clock, I looked over the edge of my bed, and saw that Julian was awake, peeping sideways at me out of his eyes, with a subdued laugh in them. So we got up; and first I bathed him, and then myself; and afterward I proposed to curl his hair. I forgot to say that I attempted the same thing the morning before last, and succeeded miraculously ill; indeed, it was such a failure that the old boy burst into a laugh at the first hint of repeating the attempt. However, I persisted, and screwed his hair round a stick, till I almost screwed it out of his head; he all the time squealing and laughing, between pain and merriment. He endeavored to tell me how his mother proceeded; but his instructions were not very clear, and only entangled the business so much the more. But, now that his hair is dry, it does not look so badly as might have been expected.

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