I took my two-year-old for a well visit today. I always get kind of anxious during the part where the nurse asks questions about development. Does he throw a ball? Does he respond to his name? I can’t explain why, but I always have this minor fear that he won’t be doing something “normal,” like that time she asked if he blows kisses at nine or twelve months, and I thought, I’ve never blown a kiss to him! How would he know that?
Maybe this explains why I became a smug little shit when she asked, “Does he know fifty words?” and “Does he put two words together?” I made this little sound, a kind of righteous scoff, and told her, “He uses coordinating conjunctions. So yeah.”
He is “perfectly normal,” the doctor said of his height and weight. Which is what every parent basically wants to hear, at least as a baseline. He is right at the 50th percentile, not extraordinarily tall or short.
During the whole visit, my kid said only one word: No.
I used to bristle when people assumed, because he doesn’t say hello or goodbye on command and gives strangers a death stare, that he wasn’t talking yet. At home, with people he knows, he talks a lot. He uses compound-complex sentences. He knows the names of at least as many kitchen gadgets as I do. He can identity about fifty animals, maybe more. After reading a book a couple times, he starts filling in end rhymes.
A woman in the waiting room spoke up during a lull while my kid was sitting in every chair in the waiting room to say, “I don’t even know why people get Dr. Seuss books for little kids. They’re so long. No two-year-old has that attention span.” And I nodded and said, “Oh, for sure.” I didn’t say my kid regularly requests The Cat in the Hat, two or three times in a row.
When I take him shopping, if we pass close to another shopper, he says, “Oh, sorry.”
I am always apologizing. I see that with clarity now.
When my kid talks to his stuffed animals, he says, “Aw, what’s wrong? Are you okay?” He tells me, out of the blue sometimes, “I’m okay. I’m okay.”
I get anxious about the nurse’s development questions because I feel like a “wrong” answer is a reflection of me, of my parenting. What if he can’t really jump off the ground? What does that say about me? Should I be creating obstacle courses to foster jumping? Should I bring him around other kids who jump? Should we read books about jumping? It’s exhausting.
At the end of the interrogation, I get to say, “Oh, he knows much more than fifty words. He uses coordinating conjunctions.” So there.