Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Arrested Development

Home with a sick Nathaniel today, so an unexpected opportunity for a quick post, while both are napping.

We'll turn to Isaiah today, who hasn't gotten nearly his fair share of publicity. Unfortunately, he probably won't care much for this story, for it has to do with his latest checkup at the doctor.

Before anyone gets too concerned, our six-month-old is just fine. Healthy and happy. Smiling and waggling. Flopping and rolling. (although he can't roll from his tummy to his back again) Talking and screaming. Delighted whenever his big brother gives him attention. Observing and taking notes of all that's around him. In short, progressing as he should be.

You may recall that Isaiah had shown remarkable growth at his three-month visit, sprouting some 3 1/2 inches since his birth. That, we were told, put him in the 85% percentile for height among his peers. I was overjoyed; Nathaniel had never broken 35% for either height or weight, so I had pinned my hopes that at least one of the boys had inherited my "tallness" gene (if you count 6'1" or so as being tall). Don't get me wrong, we're not fixated on these percentiles; I'd like to think I'm smart enough to realize they are quick and dirty averages for parents to get some sense of their child's development. And each child is different. My father grew something like 5 inches when he was in junior college. I didn't fully develop until my freshman year in college. So, I know these things are relative.

But they are indicators, and so I was heartened (maybe overjoyed is too strong an adverb to use) to hear about Isaiah's height ranking. Then came the six-month checkup: Isaiah had grown just a half-inch – a 1/2 inch! – from three months to six months. His percentile had plummeted from 85% to 35%. He was back in Nathaniel territory. And I was heartbroken. OK, not quite that sad, but let's say mildly dejected.

A little later, our pediatrician walked into the room. Examining the chart, she said, "Your child is a runt."

A runt.
He's not big.
He's not tall.
He's a runt.
And that's the way it is.

When Michelle told me this, I about swooned. Cue the seven stages of grief. Then she told me how her grandfather (on her mother's side) was 5' 2" when he finished high school. He, too, had a growth spurt, and ended somewhere in 5' 9" territory. But he never shook his nickname, Shorty.

Now past denial and into acceptance. Past acceptance and into fantasy-like hope. Isaiah, like my father and I, will have late-stage development, only his growth spurt will be something like 8-9 inches. He'll end up 6' 4" – a strapping, robust chap.

I must be dreaming.

Of course, I also hope that I'm smart enough to realize this doesn't matter in the scheme of things. Isaiah is whole. Isaiah is healthy. Isaiah is (or at least appears to be) normal. Isaiah is perfect.

No matter how tall, or short, he turns out to be.

No comments: