Descent into Madness
April 12, 2007
Despite multiple blog posts to the contrary, I am a pretty laid-back, non-neurotic mom. Shut up! I am.
We don't own flash cards or go to Mandarin Chinese lessons. I can call a spade a spade, a rip-off a rip-off and a Baby Einstein video a baby-crack de-mobilizing device. I am (relatively!) calm in the face of injury and illness and the only reason all my outlets have the plastic pluggy things is because we requested that the previous owners of our house leave them. (Seriously. It's in the contract. Plastic pluggy things to convey.) I believe that children don't really need to be pushed and entertained and enriched 24 hours a day, and that basically all my son needs is love, a (relatively!) safe environment to explore, free time to do that exploring, and a mother who doesn't eat all the Goldfish crackers.
We've never been to the emergency room or used our pediatrician's after-hours answering service. I shrug when he eats dirt and bathe him every other day. I believe that tantrums are an annoying but necessary part of a child's journey towards language, that milestone charts should be taken with a grain --make that a rim -- of salt, and that my kid doesn't need to be doing the same things your kid does.
I believe that I have been blessed with a healthy, normal and perfectly average child, and while I know I am not a perfect mother I believe I am damn good enough.
And yet something happens to me during the 20 minutes or so that I spend waiting for the actual doctor at Noah's pediatrician's office. Something...insane.
The nurse comes in, checks Noah's weight and height and head circumferance, asks a couple milestone questions -- and then says the doctor will be in shortly.
And that's when I crumble. I obsess and overanalyze. I become convinced that something -- no, EVERYTHING -- is massively wrong.
Linda wrote about those goofy milestone questions a couple weeks ago and confessed to being flummoxed by the block-stacking one. I felt a twinge of relief when I read that, because at least I know that Noah stacks blocks. He is a block-stacking genius. Five or six blocks at a time! Mega-Blocks stacked as tall as his head! This next visit will be a piece of cake!
And it was. At first. Noah's not much of a talker yet, but I felt confident that we fell within the "four-to-ten words" spectrum. He does not, however, know his body parts.
He will maybe lift his shirt to show you his belly, if you ask, and if he's in the mood. (Hint! He is never in the mood.) If you ask the question when he's naked, however, he just sort of...pinches his chest where his shirt would be. So I would not really count that as Harvard-level body-part identification skills there.
Oh! And this one: Can he drink from a cup without spilling?
Me: blink. blink blink.
It has never even occurred to me to hand Noah an actual cup. Why would I do that? It's madness! It's like when my mother-in-law gave me a set of FINGER PAINTS for Noah. FINGER PAINTS! That's bullshit, man. I graciously thanked her and then hid them in the basement, since I plan to keep Noah unaware of finger paints until junior high.
Wait. Why did she measure his height again after getting his weight? Oh, Jesus. He's underweight. Terribly malnourished. Look at him! You can see his ribs! His belly is fat, but...oh, Jesus. It's fucking DISTENDED. How did I miss that?
And then the nurse came back in after a couple minutes to re-measure Noah's head. Which meant...oh, Jesus. Look at him! Look at that gigantic head! He's a Q-tip! He's got fluid on the brain! He's got craniosynostosis! How did I miss that?
So for 20 minutes this morning, I sat in a small exam room, terrified out of my damn mind. My poor child. My poor underweight hydrocephalic cup-challenged child who couldn't find his nose with both hands and a flashlight. He deserves so much more. He deserves a mother who knows when something isn't right and calls the doctor right away. A mother who doesn't leave him to be raised by wolves or Noggin or the dustbunnies. A mother who will sit there with some body-part flashcards and GET HIM UP TO SPEED ALREADY.
I glanced through all the paperwork the nurse gave me (potty-training, vaccines, sample college application essay questions) and noticed that Noah was supposed to have a check-up at 15 months. Which he did not. Because I did not know that.
Oh, Jesus. Now they're calling Child Protective Services. Look, he has a scratch on his shoulder. Where did that come from?
I should have cut his fingernails. Maybe I can bite them off.
Noah! Let's sing a song! Look! There's Humpty-Dumpty! Mama will sing for you, my precious!
Seriously. I tried singing to him, like I was trying to cram at the last minute for an exam in parental involvement. Noah let me sing one line and screeeeeched for me to stop, shaking his head no and wailing in misery. I gave up and started fattening him up with Goldfish crackers.
Noah - 18 months
weight - 25 pounds even
height - 33.5 inches
head circumference - 19.5 inches
I've been blessed with a healthy, normal and perfectly average child, and that is damn good enough.