Next game we teach her will be shin-kicking

One of Leta’s favorite new games to play is Honk. This game involves Leta squeezing my nose or Jon’s nose, and then we say, “HONK!” When we squeeze her nose back she doesn’t honk yet, she just blows air out of her nose and hums. She can’t get enough of this game and sometimes for a full ten minutes all you hear in our house is, “HONK! HONK! HONK!” When Jon tells her to give me a kiss before her bedtime story she honks my nose. She wants to honk my nose while I’m changing her diaper. When I tell her, “No, don’t throw that knife!” she just honks my nose.

During her one-year doctor’s appointment yesterday we were trying to show her off to her pediatrician who has to be the most humorless pudwacker practicing medicine on Earth. We thought that if he could see her playing Honk he might have something nice or positive to say. Instead, when she honked Jon’s nose the doc just sat there giving us a look like, “And?”

AND? AND?! SHE CAN HONK OUR NOSES! She’s a twelve-month-old honker! I bet Einstein couldn’t honk until he was at least 14-months-old, asshole.

After going over a list of cognitive developmental milestones he said that Leta is a few months ahead of most children her age. But he didn’t say it as if we should be happy about it. He said it almost as if we should be worried that she can point at things already, or call her grandpa by name, because my God, she’s ahead of the chart and we must stick to the chart. She’s also too tall for her age and doesn’t weigh enough even though she drinks 24 ounces of whole milk a day and snacks on chocolate cake.

Then he checked out her reflexes and as he was listening to her chest with the stethoscope he got this confused look on his face. Granted, the man always looks confused: imagine Kramer from “Seinfeld” and Mr. Rogers morphed into a 6’8” tall mumbler. He suggested that Leta might have a little bit of a concave ribcage, but he couldn’t really tell. He said it could just be the contrast between her shoulders and HER FAT BUDDHA BELLY. But he brought it up anyway because parents JUST LOVE to hear about possible deformities.

And oh, that spot on her leg, that must be eczema.

What the man thinks is eczema are recent rug burns on Leta’s legs that she has developed from scooting around the room. He, of course, rolled his eyes at me when I explained this, and that’s when I really wish that instead of teaching Leta to honk we had trained her to wave her middle finger.

Jon thinks I’m overreacting, but yesterday was one of the hardest days I’ve had as a parent. In addition to watching my child receive FIVE immunizations in her thighs via three-inch needles, she had to have her finger pricked for a blood test. But the lab technician couldn’t squeeze out enough blood from just one finger, so he had to prick another and then squeeze that finger until it turned blue. The screaming you heard yesterday, that was Leta.

I don’t think I have ever seen her so upset as she was yesterday, upset because she was in awful physical pain. There aren’t words to describe what it does to your soul to watch your child’s face contort because she is hurt, because she just wants that strange man to stop squeezing her hand FOR BLOOD. This wasn’t like the screaming in the early days, days when that was the only skill she had mastered. These were screams for Mama to make things better, but all I could do was hold her and wipe away her tears.

At the end of March Leta will undergo another MRI, this time on her spinal cord. The doc wants to cover all the bases, he said, and just confirm that everything is okay even though she has begun crawling, even though she is starting to bear weight through her legs. I had dreaded that news, but I knew that he was going to order the test. I know it’s for the best, but that certainly does not make things any easier.

By the time we left the clinic my black shirt was covered in baby snot and tears with chunks of cheddar goldfish scattered around like orange glitter. NOTE TO SELF: Wear rain slicker next visit. The highlight of the day (if black holes have highlights) would be confirmation from the pediatrician and his nurse that we don’t need to worry about Leta being autistic.


Leta’s. Mom. Different. Story.