“The doctor reassured me this (clinging to me for dear life, head buried in my chest, weeping uncontrollably) was perfectly normal behavior and that this would be the last time the doctor visit would be this traumatic.”
Lies. Damned lies! The 4-year-old well-child check did not go any smoother than the 3-year. Well, there wasn’t any crying, but there wasn’t any cooperation, either. As Sonja lie on the table, curling up, turning away, and being generally uncooperative, I caught a little smirk, a tell-tale sign that this was all for show.
Mostly what the doctor and I talked about was her steady weight-gain. Her incredibly slooooooow but also very steady weight gain. I mentioned that there was some guilt on my part that I couldn’t get her to eat better. I also explained that since she decided she liked chocolate milk, it was harder to get her to eat actual food after drinking the milk. His suggestion was to feed her at more regular times to see if that would encourage her to get hungry more often. (I have not done this yet, favoring my plan of just forcing her to eat something real before she can have milk.) A while back, I implemented an 8:30 snack time so that Sonja would stop complaining she was hungry after I put her to bed. It worked. Sometimes she eats, sometimes she doesn’t, but she knows she can’t use that excuse to stay awake anymore.
Her height was another issue. The curve took a little bit of a dip and the doctor was a little concerned. He said it would probably go back up, and to bring her in for a height-weight check in four months. I asked what would be wrong if her height didn’t improve, and he said, once again, that there could be some motor issues. Then we went down the list of the things she should be able to do, and she can do them all in spades. Talk in complete sentence. For years now. Recount her day. Just try and stop her. Hop on one foot. Yes, and plié and chassé too. As usual, this boiled down to, it’s probably just the size she is going to be. I was really short too, until middle school, at which point I took my place amongst the average-heighted people.
During this conversation I mentioned that, despite what he was seeing, Sonja is a very friendly and outgoing child. I also told Sonja, somewhat in jest, that she was embarrassing me. At that point the doctor said that the sooner I realized that this was her, and not me, the better off I would be.
I think as people we have a tendency to judge. If a kid is screaming his lungs out at a restaurant, we get annoyed and blame the parents. Now that I have a child, if I see a meltdown at the grocery store, I’m more likely to feel bad for the mom, who is no doubt embarrassed but not at fault, either. But even if we can withhold from casting aspersions on other people, it is much more difficult not to judge ourselves, isn’t it? If your own child is acting poorly, you assume everyone else is silently rating your parenting skills.
But sometimes, or as the doctor says, all the time, this is an attempt on the child’s part to control what he can in a particular situation. Sonja could not control being at the doctor’s but she could control how much she cooperated. It was a sentiment I needed to hear.
I thought of it last night after Sonja’s swim instructor was looking for suggestions to get my (normally cooperative) daughter to participate in activities the first time, instead of saying no and having to be persuaded. Sonja and the teacher started off on the right foot the first day by bonding over The Lego Movie. Then, the first thing the teacher did during the very first lesson was dunk Sonja completely underwater. Had she been consulted, Sonja never would have agreed to this. So now I think she’s a little distrustful, and really, there’s nothing I can do about that. That’s all up to you and her, lady. Good luck.
Back to the checkup. I asked for the doctor’s opinion on starting kids in school early, since our school district won’t test kids and it’s looking less and less like Sonja will be able to start early. He refrained from saying too much in one direction, but he said some schools don’t want people using the public school system as free child care, but that some have taken it too far, because some kids are ready to start early.
Then the nurse came in and gave Sonja a bunch of shots and she left the office sobbing and limping. We went out for a healing frozen yogurt treat, and the next day she insisted on wearing a skirt to school so she could show off her bandaids.
Here’s to next year.