This past week the boys had their pediatric checkups. They are just a few days short of being exactly two and a half years apart, so the timing worked well to have mini Gwinn’s three year visit and 2.0’s six month visit together. That, and our pediatrician is now an hour from our new home. Don’t worry, we are looking for a new one closer to the house.
After packing up the kids and making the hour long trek solo, we arrived a bit early and settled into the waiting area to fill out routine questionnaires for each kid. A little while longer and the three of us were in an examination room, being grilled about the usual stuff: how often does the baby nurse, what kind of solids is he eating, sleep, etc. Everything was acceptable for the baby, as in I told the nurse nothing to bring up a red flag.
Then she started asking about mini Gwinn. “How much screen time does he have every day?”
“I don’t know, probably somewhere between one and two hours a day.”
Eyebrows raise. Her fingers fly across the keyboard.
More questions. Measurements of height, weight, baby’s head size. The nurse left, and we waited for the pediatrician.
Normally, I think she’s fabulous. She’s not too high strung, she’s generous with her mom encouragement, and she’s gentle with my sons. But something triggered my motherly defenses at our visit.
“His BMI is a little high. You said he has one to two hours a day of screen time?”
I bristled. I should have lied. But I was honest. Less than patiently I explained that we had moved three weeks ago. There are boxes in twelve of the fifteen or so rooms still. We have three dogs and no fence on our property. I am alone between 10-12 hours a day with two children and three dogs and a house to unpack. Every time a dog needs to urinate, the following occurs: put on shoes for myself, put on mini Gwinn’s shoes, apply collars and leashes to all three dogs, strap on Ergo Baby carrier, place baby in carrier, find keys, unlock door, take all dogs out, battle a fit from mini Gwinn about opening the garage door for his wagon, take everyone inside, lock door, lather rinse repeat. This happens about five times a day. Then I reiterated that I am alone for about eleven hours a day. If my three year old, who was spinning in a circle as I regaled the pediatrician with my dog routine, watches some freaking Blues Clues for ten minutes while I nurse the baby or God forbid, go to the bathroom without an audience, report me to DFACS. I informed her that we don’t have cable, and that what he does watch is monitored closely.
She backed off some and apologized, and admitted that it sounded crazy at our house right now. We packed up, took the hour drive home, and I fed and leashed the dogs so the six of us could take a family walk before bath and bed time, which are also usually done solo. I let her know that his weight was the least of my concerns and it shouldn’t even have been brought up at this visit.
Out of curiosity I thumbed through the boys’ checkup records to see how mini Gwinn’s growth had been tracking. Lo, and behold, his BMI was the same at his two year check up.
She didn’t mention that he was completely day time potty trained, or that he eats raw green bell peppers for a snack, or that he can go through a quart sized clam shell of raspberries by himself in five days, or that he can talk her ear off, or that he’s figuring out simple addition in his head. When I said his pants were so big in the waist that the smallest tab adjustments were still too large, it didn’t seem to register. All she saw were the numbers, and not the healthy, active child standing I’m front of her.
If I were a negligent mother, or fed him kool aid and cheeseburgers, or if he didn’t go on multiple walks daily, maybe it wouldn’t bother me so much. I realize that our healthcare system is set up so that the worst of the worst parents are counseled the same as the best. If only I had a brain and reasonable ability to take care of myself and my children, I wouldn’t have to rely upon government mandated guidance from doctors.
Next time I’m asked about “dangerous” issues in my home, I’m going to say, “We only eat at buffets for every meal, preferably Shoneys or KFC. We have the television on constantly on Jerry Springer reruns. We keep several pistols in a decorative bowl on the kitchen table, so everyone has access to all firearms at all times, for safety.”