The 18 month appointment

Assume the position.

We met Colin’s new doctor this past Friday at Colin’s 18 month appointment. This is his 3rd doctor. We’ve loved them all. And usually, it’s a pretty painless experience, save for the shots. The 2 day appointment, the 3 month appointment, the 6 month check up, the 9 month, 12 month, you understand. Every three months we go through this drill, shots and all. And then there is the fresh hell that is the 18 month appointment.

Colin’s officially pre-gaming for the terrible twos. I know this is a fact because the doctor told me so.  That’s what we call an official medical diagnosis.  She came to this conclusion as my son writhed on the floor, screaming his little blonde head off.

But let me back up. We had such a promising start after all. Since the weather was gorgeous, we decided to walk over to the office.  Colin happily hopped into the stroller, we strapped ourselves in, and headed off. On the way, Colin pointed to flowers and trees, identifying each. We arrived to our destination, and the obstacle course began.

First, it’s a three story building. With no elevator. Whose bright idea was that? So, in my fitness fever, I decided to lug the Bugaboo up two flights of stairs to the office. I only almost fell backwards once.

Once I arrived, I was told pleasantly by the receptionist, “Dr. Whositwhatsit is on the third floor.” Super.

One more flight of stairs, we check in, Colin happily taking to the floor to play with the toys that abound. The office is pretty much empty, so I don’t have to referee sharing. This is great. A nurse shows almost immediately (no wait!) and we are ushered to our room. Colin is allowed to bring one toy, and happily follows the nurse. Until he sees the new toy-less room. At the same time he turns around and makes a run for it, I realize my child is actually quite clever. I coax him into the room, which will now be known as the seventh ring of hell. Not only because it was hot and miserable in there. But because this is where my child transformed into Lucifer.

Immediately he assumed the tantrum position: head face down, arms and legs splayed, kicking and crying, sometimes working his way around in a circle. I answer the nurse’s questions when I can understand them, screaming my answers. “HE SLEEPS THROUGH THE NIGHT!  WHOLE MILK? YES!” She assumes he will quiet down within five minutes. We all know what assuming does.

We come to the conclusions that my son is about 26 pounds, give or take 5, and could be anywhere from 31 inches tall to 34 inches tall. Good enough, I’ll take it. Just so I can buy clothes for the kid, if nothing else.

He continues his wordless tirade for the next 35 minutes, as the doctor visits with us. I am simultaneously impressed with his fortitude and morbidly embarrassed.  She and I speak loudly over the din about my concerns, one of which may surprise you: my son’s tantrums. He very rarely has a tantrum of this magnitude, though, and I am rightly horrified. The interesting part is that he has positioned himself directly under the doctor as he tantrums. I am perplexed. As we discuss how I believe his comprehension is far beyond his verbal skills, he actually takes a quick breath break to say “No, no no no.”  And then? He abruptly stops his tantrum. Apparently he is unhappy with my take on his development.  It’s time to intervene.

He takes the train toy he was playing with and begins to show off. “Train! Coo- Coo!” And then he talks a blue streak to us. Of course, we have no idea what in the world he is saying, but at least he has proven to the doctor that he has some verbal skills.

Check ups are stressful enough without tantrums. You meet with a doctor every few months, and sometimes even that frequency seems too spread out. Colin changes daily. His behaviors, his skills, his appearance even. I will put one kid to bed in the evening, and I am greeted by another in the morning, brightly greeting me with a “HI!” You visit relatives and their innocuous questions leave you reeling, wondering if your child is challenged in areas.  Having a 30 minute appointment once every three or six months is overwhelming. There are issues you need to address and answers you seek when the inter webs isn’t helping. You need that time. You need that attention. You need to be comforted.  Much like a toddler.

One of the things I have learned from being a parent is that there are two words that every parent longs to hear from medical professionals: “Totally normal.”

As our doctor bids us goodbye, Colin enthusiastically returns her farewell.  When she hands him stickers of Lightning McQueen and Mater, he responds “Oh WOW! Tow truck! Cah!”

He has calmed down just in time for his shot and for us to leave. Terrific.

We are told back at the receptionist that they will see us for our next appointment when Colin turns two. I nearly pass out on the spot. But then I remember I need to lug my 26 pounder with his stroller back down three flights of stairs. I square my shoulders, trade some stickers for the lobby toys, and tell them, “I’ll have to call you.”


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