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according to long-held statistics, black girls generally fare the best of all pre- mature infants, followed by white girls, black boys, and then white boys. “Do you think your boys did better


than Robert because of this?” Sally, who is white, asks about my boys, who are African American. “I don’t know,” I say. I tell her about my conversation with


March of Dimes medical director Fleis- chman, who says that preemies have their own trajectories and can suffer a host of complications. “What we don’t know is what protects some from these insults and not others,” he says. For Robert, high school will be an


extension of middle school, says Sally, and college will likely be community college — maybe. “I’m sorry,” she says, now crying. “Robert is a good, kind kid. I just hope that as he gets older and goes out on his own, people will see in him what we see in him.”


cue skewers and Styrofoam. Each has sculpted an impressive atom of protons, neutrons and electrons. But Cameron’s clay protons and neutrons keep pop- ping off. My mind flashes back to the days when I hoarded Play-Doh for him to play with so he could strengthen his fingers and hands. With the boys out of earshot, I whisper to Ben that maybe Cameron’s clay balls are not sticking be- cause he lacks the strength in his fingers to secure them. Ben throws me a look as if I am crazy. I think back to a conversation with a


O


neighbor a few years ago. We were chat- ting about our kids when I brought up Cameron’s schoolwork and my fear that his prematurity might again be stunting his progress. By then, the boys were in the fourth or fifth grade.





ne Saturday afternoon, the boys are working on a sci- ence project, building a 3-D model of an atom using Model Magic clay, barbe-


“Tracey!” my friend said, practical-


ly yelling at me. “They’re not preemies anymore!” “What?” I replied. “They’re not preemies anymore!” she


repeated. “They’re fine now. You have to stop blaming everything on their pre-


mature birth.” I felt as though someone had finally


knocked some sense into me. “In mothers’ eyes, preemie babies


will always be preemie babies,” Fleisch- man later told me. “But it is true that at some point, many of these children out-


Tracey!” my friend said. “They’re fine now. You have to stop blaming everything on their premature birth.”


20 The WashingTon PosT Magazine | august 15, 2010


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