Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: Four-year Checkup

This week was my son’s four-year checkup. If you’re a regular reader, you may recall we have a history of…interesting interactions with his pediatrician. This visit was no exception. She is a very nice lady, but I get the sense my independent, mosquito-bitten farm/ranch kids are a bit of an anomaly for her.

She entered as I was trying to prevent both kids from unrolling the entire paper roll that goes on the exam table while updating my son’s medical records.

Two sets of wide eyes turned to her. My daughter broke her leg this spring, and our last round of doctors included casts, and apparent torture and abuse in their little minds. This lasted about 10 seconds in my daredevil daughter, and she went back to lapping the room.

My son, who is a studier of people and protector of his sister, sat and surveyed the situation as the questionnaire of age-appropriate milestones began.

Can he say his entire name? Silence. I answer that yes, he can. First and last, not middle.

Does he come home and tell you about his day. Silence. I answer that yes, he does.

Can he tell you how old he is? Silence. I answer yes, he can.

Can he recite a favorite poem. Silence. I answer that he nearly has the Lord’s Prayer down.

Finally, in some sudden, desperate need to show this doctor that my son can speak, I ask him if he can tell her about haying? Toads? His pigs? And, just as he opens his mouth to say something, the good-intentioned doctor pipes up, and enthusiastically says, “Oh yes, what are your pig’s names?!”

That was it. The lips clamped down and I nearly had to remind him we do not look at people in that tone of voice. We don’t name our pigs, as all should know in his opinion. If they don’t, he isn’t going to waste words explaining why. It paralleled the time he suddenly got up and walked away from Santa when the jolly old elf told my son he would do his best to get a real moo (cow) into our living room Christmas morning. Nobody puts moos in the living room, and that guy was off his rocker, too.

Strike one.

She asked if we have discussed strangers with him, and how he is to interact with them. I said yes, to an extent. I refrained from saying that based on the current situation, I thought he was doing pretty good with the stranger thing.

From there we went to weight and height. He is in the 97th percentile for weight, and the 86th for height. Meaning he is a little chubby, and we should cut out the whole milk and go to skim. My daughter took that as her cue to trip over the stool of the exam table and burst into tears, which prevented me from explaining that whole milk a naturally nutrient dense food, and that I think it’s a crock that doctors are telling growing little boys of four that they are borderline overweight. Particularly those with fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers who top out over six feet, and, in some cases over 300 not fat pounds. Which I have mentioned at nearly every previous appointment.

Strike two.

On to sensory stuff. Can he stack blocks ten high? Yes. Does he pick on his sister? Yes, want to see? Does he attend daycare. No. Has he been to the dentist? No, it’s on my list. Do you drink well or city water? Well water. To which, she explained I should get a gallon of city water from someone I know once a week or so, and have my family drink it to ensure we are getting fluoride and other stuff our well water is lacking. Had to remind myself we don’t look at people like that.

Strike three.

After explaining my son will be fine if he can, indeed, speak as I say he can, and if we take care of the water thing, get him to a dentist (I agree), and enroll him in something to ensure he learns how to interact with other children and adults (agree, again), we got to wrap the appointment up with shots. Two for each kid.

Then everyone left the room. At which point, in an apparent grand finale, my son unlocks his tongue, asking if we could go home, whether his tasty milkshake is still in the car and stating that he will definitely have to go help dad later. He then gathers up his sister and whisks her away before another full leg cast appears, waving goodbye to everyone while utilizing a running walk that would make a horse trainer jealous.

Just like that, we all survived the four-year checkup. Though I noticed there was not a prize and sticker box for the moms who, “do a good job.”