When I go to the pediatrician for my children’s well-baby check ups, they always ask a series of questions. I usually make up numbers about how many “voids” the babies/toddlers have per day by doing some mental math. For example, if I change them four times during the day and once in the morning, how many pees on average is in each diaper? Two? Three? What about that really sopping one in the morning? Five? What’s that total come to? Between 13 and 17?
They ask how much milk the kids drink. Sometimes I tell the truth and add that they really do eat a lot of cheese and yogurt. Other times, I lie and multiply their ounces drank per day on average by two. Is this the same type of lie as not listing your real weight on your driver’s license or is it more serious?
Then, the tough questions are over and they start in with the easier-to-answer developmental stuff. Can they stack 2-3 blocks? Can they stand on one foot for a few seconds? Hop on both feet? Sit still to be read to for a short picture book? Track and object with both eyes across the mid-line? Follow two-part directions? (Obviously, these questions span the different age levels of my kids.) We usually breeze right through these.
Until they come to the verbal section. You know, the part where they ask if your child says some number of words? With three of my four children, this section causes more verification amongst the nurses taking down the information than any other. For instance, my oldest had a spoken vocabulary of less than 10 words (including Mom & Dad) until she was over 2 1/2 yrs old. I still have the “flash cards” I made using pictures cut out from magazines that I used to try to get her to say more words (“soap,” “potty,” “boots,” “baby,” “cooling tower,” “bear,” etc.). I was more relaxed with Child #2. It was a good thing, too, since she was determined not to say a word until she could do it correctly. She had some speech “issues” (“s” + consonant blends were impossible until this fall so “squirrel” was “kwerl” and “school” was “cool”) that were completely developmentally appropriate – but not something she was going to transmit to the whole world. Once she could say a word correctly in her mind, she said it. Not until then.
Child #3 surprised us all by talking early and often. That’s the only one I could ever answer “yes” to the vocabulary questions.
Child #4 is in the same mold as #1 and #2. At eighteen months of age, he has two grunts. One means “yes” and the other means something other than “yes.” He also has a very annoying and high pitched squeal that he picked up from one (or two) of his older siblings.
So, when the nurse asks if he can say 10-15 words, I answer honestly. “No way.” She then asks for clarification, “Mom, Dad, cat?” I smile and restate my answer, “Nope.” Again, she looks for some insight, “Is it possible he is trying to say some words and you just don’t understand them yet?” I laugh at this point and say that my first two children were late talkers, that the doctor and I are not worried, and that he understands everything we say perfectly.
If you tell him it is time to change his diaper, he will run in the other direction and hide somewhere. There is nothing wrong with his hearing or oral comprehension!
The other day, he was very agitated by a toy that wasn’t working the way he wanted it to. I told him I would fix it if he brought it over to me. He stopped messing with it and brought it to me immediately. I then realized he had a red crayon stub in his hand. So, I fixed the toy and told him I would trade him the toy for the crayon. He willingly accepted the trade and went off happily with the fixed now-noisy toy.
I won’t go into the looks I get from the nurses when they think one of my kids should be potty trained already. It is easy to judge others when it isn’t your own kid.
We have been fortunate to have very healthy children. I actually look forward to our visits there. I love our pediatrician, even if Child #4 screams at the sight of her. She has six kids of her own.