Saturday, July 29, 2006

Where's Q (and how much does she weigh)?

We always knew that Q would be a star.

(Okay. Bad joke. But irresistible.)

Q went for her 15-month checkup this past week. As expected, she's a little on the thin side (at least as far as the standard graph goes). She came in at 20 1/4 lbs., gaining roughly two pounds in three months. That still has her, as my wife says, "rocking the 12th percentile." Height wise she's up to 30 inches or around the 50th percentile. The numbers don't in any way bother our doctor. After small starts, the 12th percentile sounds solid.

And there's no denying that she's healthy. The examination room couldn't hold her; she kept wanting to go for a walk up and down the hall, smiling at nurses (including the one who would eventually make her cry from two shots), peeking into other rooms at other kids. She's as irresistible as she is irrepressible. She's so much more confident than she was at her last visit just three months ago. How much more confident can this girl get?

That's our Big Stuff, as we like to call her.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Yes, today is my birthday. And, yes, I'm old.

I even managed to do something to my back; forget about feeling young.

Ah well. At least I get cake and lots of hugs.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

"Mom" gets older

My unbridledly lovely wife has a birthday today. Happy birthday, my love.

For nine sweet days, she and I are the same age. Though I’ve not been as vigilant this year in reminding her of this fact as in the past, The Boy has taken up the slack. Our son, himself just out of a birthday (his third--and more about that later), decided for some reason to switch from calling her “mama” to “mom.” After two kids and nine years at a demanding job, she's still beautiful, tough, and tender, but The Boy has managed to find the most effective way to make her feel older: "Watch this, mom"; "Can I have something to drink please, mom?" He might as well have just come home from a junior-high sleepover.

(Note: Though he also drifts between “daddy” and “dad,” he hasn’t committed yet. My guess is because he hasn't yet figured out how to whine with one syllable.)

Still, when my wife comes through the door each evening, when Q and The Boy are burning through their last bits of energy for the day, they drop their blocks and trucks and balloons and books to free their arms to hold her. And The Boy always says through a huge smile, "mama!" Not bad at all.

Now let’s have some cake.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Boy Turns 3

So we’ve been a little busy. After about four weeks of visitors and a week out of the country myself, the summer has finally something like settled in. Which means that I can catch up a bit on what’s been occupying us lately. Here's the latest:

The big news is The Boy’s third birthday. The usual suspects came to his party (including good friends who have left our building for pastures outside the city or uptown), and unfortunately an aggressive wind drove us out of a nearby sandbox and into the playroom for pizza and cake. The shovels and construction hats we gave out as goodies didn't make as much sense inside, but the weather won out. Inside or out, the chocolate cake with green buttercream frosting (and toys)--made from scratch by my unbridlely lovely wife--was fantastic.

But the most interesting thing about this birthday was the presents. After happily receiving new trucks, trains, and books from both sets of grandparents, we expected more of the same to be hidden beneath all that crisp paper and sticky tape. There was indeed one truck (which he liked very much), but the gifts were largely, well, adult--mainly for his brain as well as his hands. He received, for example, a game that quizzes shapes, colors, numbers, and letters, a set of flashcards, a dinosaur backpack and umbrella just his size. Our good friends from The Boy's NICU days gave him an original Colorfoms set--vinyl shapes in various colors that you can combine on a background to build boats, airplanes, cities, cheese, or anything really.

Unrapping these gifts upstairs after kisses and thank yous, he was visibly disappointed. He fell asleep holding his single new truck that night.

Then something happened. He still played with the trucks and trains during the day, but that next night we took out the flash cards and went through the questions. He did extremely well on the set for 2-3 year olds, and he then wanted the questions for 4-5 year-olds. Now we do them nearly every night.

Or we do Colorforms. After Q goes to sleep, The Boy gets half an hour of Just Him Time with mama and daddy, and he often wants to spend it making firetrucks or rockets out of red circles and triangles and rectangles. He now wants to make trucks as much as get them. Despite knowing a thing or two about human psychological development, I'm still always amazed when I see it unfolding.

We saw a similar difference in The Boy's three-year checkup. We began with the usuals: weight (28 lbs./12th percentile) and height (38 3/4 inches/75th percentile). But during previous visits, the nurses and doctor spoke with us while he fiddled with things in the room and gnawed on tongue depressors. This time, though, the nurse spoke directly with him almost from the moment she entered the room. She began, for example, by giving him an eye exam, asking him to read the lines of a chart from a distance. He read off a rather small line of shapes without a problem. On the next smaller line, however, he started guessing. I'm the one with the glasses and the eyes worked over by too many books, but I could read the row that he missed. (She did say that his vision was 20/20. Odd.)

But then again, in other ways I could see more clearly his age limitations than the limitations of his eyes. Next the nurse said that though he might be a little young for it, she would try to test his hearing. She put a little device into his ear and instructed him to raise his hand when he heard a beep. He dutifully said “Okay.” The test went something like this:
Nurse: [Plays the sound.]
Boy: [Silence.]
Nurse: Did you hear a sound?
Boy: Yes.
Nurse: Okay, this time raise your hand if you hear the beep. [Plays sound.]
Boy: [Still nothing.]
Nurse: Did you hear something?
Boy: Yes.
Nurse: Okay, this time, squeeze your daddy's hand if you hear the beep. [Plays sound.]
Boy: [He holds my hand but doesn't squeeze.]
Nurse: Did you hear a sound that time?
Boy: Yes.
Nurse: I guess he's still too young.
How could he not respond in the right way? What was he not grasping?

To be fair to The Boy, though, when I told grandpa this story he pointed out right away that the nurse was too loose in her instructions. The boy didn’t, after all, hear the word ‘beep’ but instead simply heard different tones. And during the test the nurse only asked him if he heard a sound, not a word, which he obviously did. The Boy can be achingly precise about things--we've been told many times that something is light brown instead of just brown--so I'm siding with grandpa. (This is, by the way, why clean and clear psychology experiments are so difficult to devise. Humans may be much easier to instruct than, say, dolphins, but misunderstandings are always lurking about. And, again by the way, perhaps grandpa should consider lurking about psychology labs to help clear up some of the messy work that goes on in too many of them.)

Even the doctor spent more time talking with The Boy than with me, including trying to get him to promise to work more on potty training. He wouldn't promise her anything, however. I'm probably bragging a little to say this, but his doctor did tell me that she found his unwillingness to promise rather smart. Most kids, she said, usually just go along with her request to promise when she brings out her Doctor Voice. The Boy, however, seemed to know that even to say the words would commit him to something he wasn't ready for. I was proud and not proud at the same time--a common parental stance, I suppose.

I am proud of what he's becoming. He's a climber, a digger, a maker, a cook's helper, a comedian, a generous dispenser of hugs and kisses, a rhymer, a gum chewer, a tennis player, a dancer, a builder, a lollipop lover, a good big brother, a painter, a driver of trucks and trains, a thinker.

Happy birthday, my son. You are becoming a fine little man, and I love you very much.