So, Otto turned 9 this month.
Last year in the single digits! Woo!
We had his checkup last Friday, and I looked at my notes and realized he's grown an inch and a half and gained 8 pounds since June.
No wonder his gym shoes weren't fitting... now, if only he hadn't spent a day at school refusing to wear said shoes, tying his laces to his chair, and generally causing havoc instead of just, you know, TELLING ME his toes were pinched. Instead he fussed about wearing them. And he wouldn't wear his snow boots because he didn't want to track snow across the floor. He ended up getting sent down to the office.
And then I got an email from his teacher asking me to buy him new shoes. GAH. Embarrassing!
Anyway, annual well-child checkups now consist largely of a long list of questions asked by the doctor of the child. As a parent, all you can really do is sit to one side, arms crossed, and pray silently that said child doesn't decide to divulge some deep dark family secret during the inquisition, or choose that moment to complain about small shoes.
I got away pretty clean this time. The doc started slowly, asking Otto if he had any favorite foods. She asked it conversationally, almost sneakily. Otto was sitting on the exam table, and he watched me from the corner of his eye as he said, "well, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches." The doc said, "uh huh, anything else?" He thought about it and added, "strawberries. And mom's chocolate chip banana bread!"
He admitted to liking green beans and peas and said he wears a helmet while biking (all true). He told the doc that our family only eats out about once a week, and his favorite place is Noodles (also true). And he got another plug in for my banana bread before we were done. I managed to sit on my hands and not get into the justifications that my recipe is a Cooking Light recipe with whole-wheat flour, or that the only way I can get him to eat bananas at all is by mashing them into bread and tossing in some chocolate chips.
In honor of his excellent overall performance, I made two loaves of his favorite thing tonight, and asked him if he'd like it for breakfast, snack, lunch and dinner tomorrow. He said yes with a straight face, then started laughing.
We saw another new doc last Saturday, a child psychologist, and Otto and I decided that we like her. He's going back in a couple of weeks for further assessment, but we seem to be working our way towards an ADHD diagnosis. I've been reading more about it the last few days, and in a lot of ways it makes sense. I think Jon and I have already felt our way into using a lot of the disciplinary tools, etc., that are recommended for ADHD kids, and they do require a different approach. So we'll see where the assessments go, and then what the psych suggests. One step at a time.
In my (small) experience with this so far, there seems to be a significant subset of people who assume that ADHD is something you get when you don't discipline your kids properly (let them play video games all day, don't correct them 'appropriately', etc.). The National Institute of Mental Health says that kids with ADHD symptoms have delayed or abnormal brain growth with a strong genetic component, and most studies indicate that an attraction to TV, impulsive behavior, etc. are the result of that brain abnormality, not the cause. Chicken. Egg. Who knows?
But on Saturday night, just for fun, I went down the list of risk factors:
Genetics: hmm... likely? we're not sure, our family history is a little sketchy, but probably yes.
Lead exposure: nope, we bought a newer house precisely because we knew we were bringing a baby home, and I was careful about how much/which fish I ate.
Pesticide exposure: hah! the little bit of extra money I spent on organic produce during and after pregnancy was worth it just to be able to say... NO. I also took DHA supplements on the advice of my midwife.
TV watching: we followed the AAP recommendations -- pretty much no-to-little TV as a toddler, limited and supervised screen time as he got older. Some days we do better than others, but he's never anywhere near the 3-4 hr a day average that seems to be standard for American kids now.
Green time: well, we had a great day care that incorporated lots of unstructured outside play, and we did (and still do, when it's not 20 below) kick the kids out regularly to play. So, probably not.
Complications during delivery: well, shoot, as a c-section baby with the cord around his neck and some respiratory distress right at birth, I guess that's a wobbly checkmark.
Smoking/drinking during pregnancy: HAHAHAHAHAHAH no.
I guess we're mostly guilty of conception, as Otto's first counselor once said.
Anyway, the doc and I talked about how he reads (his ability to read long books with great comprehension is sort of... unusual if he's having trouble focusing), and she said he was pretty squirmy during their first meeting. He tends to act out and act funny during these appointments, and I always put it down to anxiety/nerves, but I could be wrong. I often am.
I'm great at picking out new gym shoes, though. And I DO make excellent banana bread. Life has its compensations...