Am I the only mom that stresses out when I get to the doctor’s office for one of the kid’s well-check appointments and am handed the 17-page form to fill out asking all the questions about what your child can and can’t do? You know the ones. They usually send them a week early so you can leisurely fill them out in the comfort of your own home.
Unless, of course, you never receive them. Or forget to check the mail. Or accidentally throw them in the recycle bin and don’t remember you’re supposed to have the form until you’re 5 minutes past the time you should be heading out with the little one to said wellness check. Not that that’s ever happened to me.
Maybe I’m the only one that panics when I get to the appointment and they hand me the (second copy of the) massive questionnaire that really feels like it’s testing my parenting abilities as much as it’s testing my child’s development.
We always start off great. The first section is “Communication.” Oh yes, he has this one down. I’m feeling pretty good at this point.
Then comes the “Gross Motor” section.
“Without holding onto anything for support, does your child kick a ball by swinging his leg forward?” Well, he can kick his sister while standing up, so I think that counts. Yep, doing good here, too.
And then, “Fine Motor.” This one proves to be a bit more challenging for me.
“Does your child thread a shoelace through either a bead or an eyelet of a shoe?” Uh-oh. I don’t know. Never done this. He has velcro, I’m wearing flip-flops. This is a problem. Maybe I’ll just skip just this one and they won’t even notice.
“After he watches you draw a line from the top of the paper to the bottom with a crayon, does your child copy you by drawing a single line on the paper in the same direction?” Oh crap. I’ve never sat with my child and drawn a straight line and asked him to do the same. Clearly, this is something I should have done, or they wouldn’t have asked. I already skipped one question, so I can’t leave this one blank. But I also can’t answer until I’ve tried, and the only paper I have right now to try this on is this paper. So now they will see my line and his line and know I don’t draw lines with my son, and so I had to while at the appointment in the waiting room. And they’ll think I’m a terrible parent for never doing this before.
Repeat this entire scenario for the next question about drawing circles. Yes, he can. But I’m not sure he can when I ask him to draw this shape.
Next is the “Problem Solving” section.
“Without showing him how, does your child purposefully turn a small, clear bottle upside down to dump out a crumb or a Cheerio?” Um… I have never done this, either! And I have no clear bottle and cheerio in my purse. MOM FAIL. But know what? I’m gonna just go ahead and say yes. Because give him a bottle with a chocolate chip in it? And that boy will do anything, anything, to get that chocolate out.
This section really tests my parenting, because at this point – the point at which the questions begin to make me panic – the kids have sat unattended far too long and are now whacking the glass of the aquarium and hollering at the fish, or possibly jumping up and down on a chair while shouting hello to all the passer-byers on the other side of the half-wall. Or both. Not to mention, we are in an waiting room full of sick and coughing people, and Jacob is now licking things and rolling around on the dirty germ-infested floor.
I’m absolutely certain the “receptionist” is not filling out forms, because she is actually a spy taking notes on how I’m handling this situation in order to determine whether or not I am fit to parent. I know this, because while trying to settle my panic from the licking incident and calm my nerves about my parenting fails on the
parenting test child development survey, I do my best not to yell and instead ask my children in my ever-so-sweet voice to sit quietly beside me, but to no avail. I then firmly (but discretely) grab the arm of my defiant 3-year-old while maintaining my composure and a smile on my face and whisper some threatening punishment in his ear, to which he says out loud, “NO! Do NOT pinch my bottom! DO. NOT. DO IT!” From across the room, I can see the receptionist/spy smile in response and clack louder on her keyboard, obviously reporting my horrible parenting strategies. I flash her a smile while she glances up, but then quickly give my child the look when she looks back down at her computer screen. He reluctantly climbs in the chair and sits down.
Children now quietly reading germ-doused books next to me, I move on to the next question:
“Does your child put things away where they belong?” WHAT? Really? WHAT child does this? Seriously. Give me their names, address, phone number. I want to TALK TO THEIR PARENTS. Because my child can do this, but he doesn’t do this. Not without some seriously exhausting action on my part. Because know what? Parenting is HARD, doctor, it’s HARD. These little people… they like to do whatever they want. And then they like to go to Grandma’s or the babysitter’s and pretend they are so obedient. But that is just not the case. So NO. NO, my child does NOT put things away where they belong.
He’s climbing on the chair again. At least his tongue is in his mouth…
“When you say, ‘Say seven three,’ does your child repeat the numbers in the correct order? Do not repeat the numbers. If necessary, try another pair of numbers…”
I don’t know. So I try. “Jacob, say seven three.”
He shakes his head no.
“Jacob, say it. Say the numbers I said.”
He looks at me confused, “Why, Mom? Dat’s not even da wight way.”
“Yes, I know it’s not the right way. Just say them.”
“Say what ones?”
Good grief. “Say seven three. Oh wait. No. I wasn’t supposed to repeat it. Say eight two.”
He looks at me like I’m crazy.
“Jacob, the test says you have to say it. Just SAY it.”
“Seven-free or eight-two? Which one?”
I finish the questionnaire and go back to one I skipped earlier, because he was busy scaring the fish at the time. This one shows an incomplete picture of a person.
“When you point to the figure and ask your child, ‘What is this?’ does your child say a word that means a person? Responses like ‘snowman,’ ‘boy,’ ‘man,’ ‘girl,’ and ‘daddy’ are correct. Please write your child’s response here: ______________”
And so I do. I show him. I ask him. But I don’t know whether his answer is correct. I just write his response on the line and add put a question mark by it. Because at this point, I’m seriously done. D-O-N-E, folks. I don’t even care right now if they think I’m a bad parent. I just want to get the kids and get out. Because the fish are frightened enough, the licking may continue at any moment and he may or may not have already contracted some rare disease, the receptionist/spy is starting to get suspicious, and I’m seriously failing at this parenting test. I don’t even know if his answer is correct because no, he doesn’t say “It’s a boy.” Or anything similar to their right answers. Not even “It’s a snowman.” He says this:
“It’s a penguin. Da penguin poked his eye off.”
They call his name. It’s our turn. I hand the nurse my test and try not to look too nervous. We pass. He passes. 40 inches, 40 pounds. No shots today. The doctor doesn’t tell me I’m a bad parent. Jacob makes her laugh. Annalise sits politely and answers her questions with poise. I only stammer at a couple points, and we make it out with three stickers. One for each of us. Because while the kids pick theirs out, the spy hands me an “Angry Birds” sticker. She either feels sorry for me, or she’s testing my reaction to see if I’m someone that ignores my children while playing too many games. I say, “Thanks. Daddy will love this one, right guys?” Just in case it’s the latter. But I take the sticker anyway, because really, I deserve one the most today.
Annalise’s 5-year well-check is scheduled for July 8. I’m only 9 months late for that one. Another questionnaire. Kindergarten shots… I’m pretty sure I’m gonna need some serious prayer support.