Friday, August 25, 2000

Growth spurt

I love going to the neurologist. That is, taking my children to the neurologist. The pediatric neurologist, to be specific. This is an annual event for my daughter, semi-annual for my son, and I always look forward to it as my ritual gauge of where and how and how much they are progressing. As long as there is forward movement, we are not discouraged. And since it can be hard to see that movement when you're watching it in real time, it's always nice to go see Dr. Patel and have her tell us they're doing well.

Can't say the kids look forward to the visits the way I do. To them, a visit to the doctor means shots, no matter what kind of doctor it is. "I get a shot?" my daughter asks, and is not entirely convinced when I say no. "I don't want a shot! I don't want a shot!" my son whines, despite my repeated assurances that the doctor just wants to watch him play. This is apparently a scenario so inconceivable, though indeed he has been through it many times before, that he continues whining right up to the doctor's door.

But there are no needles at the neurologist's. There are toys, and paper and crayons, and a bag full of medical tools and other assorted goodies. There's a big desk and a small table and chairs and a table to sit on and a measuring stick to see how tall you got and a window to look out of and see our car in the parking lot down below.

Going to the neurologist gives me a chance to sit and talk about my kids, which is of course one of my favorite things to do. I get to fill the doctor in on all our little challenges and triumphs, at school and at home and out in the world. And then I get to watch the kids take their various tests, and see them do things they couldn't do six or 12 months before. My son sat still and concentrated and drew shapes like a champ--a circle and a square, a triangle and a diamond, and various combinations of the four. He cut out a half circle like he'd been doing it all his life, and wrote his name with panache. "He's showing a lot of progress," said the doctor. The mama had to agree.

My daughter is balancing on one foot just fine now, and I remember when it seemed that would never happen. She's acing all the little neurological tests, like counting her fingers against her thumb or flipping her hand palm up, palm down. The doctor said she would no longer call my girl neurologically impaired, just learning disabled. The fact that she couldn't answer fairly simple questions about what she watches on TV (and goodness knows it's not because she doesn't watch TV) or repeat more than five numbers back indicates that we still have ground to cover, but she's certainly grown a lot in 12 months.

And how: Comparisons to last year's exam show that my girl has shot up four inches and gained 15 pounds. This puts her within one inch of me, and she's only 10. How delightful it will be to have a teenager who towers over me. My son grew, too, but at a somewhat more modest rate: one inch and four pounds in six months. That's a healthy increase, but he's still pretty petite--three-foot-nine and 40 pounds at age seven. Hey, somebody in the family's got to be short like mom.

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