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January 9, 2009

Nothing brings out the liar in me quicker than a well-baby checkup with the pediatrician, when the nurse comes in with her clipboard for another round of what I like to call Twenty Questions You Don’t Really Want Me to Answer. Given the no-pause monotone that they’re usually delivered in, I figure they want cookie-cutter answers  (actually, I learned this the hard way at one appointment when I tried to answer a question about Jack’s eating habits to a degree of accuracy and detail that did not fit in one of the check-mark boxes on the chart. Confusion with a splash of vexation ensued.) or no answer at all. This must be why, regarding what I imagine are the rules most often broken, they’ll often switch to the imperative (sleep him on his back, no bumpers or blankets in the crib., etc.).

I love being questioned about developmental milestones in the tribunal fashion that makes one certain that if you say “not yet” you’re guaranteed to be met with raised eyebrows and a nerve-wracking “hm.” Of course, most of the queries seem appropriate, but I swear the first time I was asked whether Jack was sitting unassisted or saying “mama,” she might as well have inquired about his driver’s license or standardized test scores.

Even better than the questions are the reminders. Who knew that I shouldn’t, say, leave him unattended in the tub or at the top of the stairs? (Yes, making light of these instructions is easier and more fun that thinking about how some people must actually need to hear them.) Believe me, this is not really the time for jokes. It’s not quite as dangerous as kidding around about security checks at, say, an airport, but they tend not to go over well.

What I’m working up to here is Jack’s upcoming 9-month checkup, which I expect will include a detailed talk about childproofing.  On this pediatric occasion, more than any other so far, I plan to do a lot of thoughtful nodding.

I’m not knocking child safety precautions. But our house (70 years old, under renovation) doesn’t lend itself to their most typical applications. Take, for instance, the following details that I won’t be including during our office visit: We have no kitchen cabinet doors, so locks won’t be an issue. Outlets aren’t really a problem because we’re re-wiring, so in their place we just have gaping holes in the wall. And how might we childproof the fireplace?  Or his antique high chair, playpen and crib? I guess we shouldn’t set any more mousetraps.

It looks like my baby-proofing toolkit will be full of my unfailing attention and the word “No.”

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 9, 2009 6:59 pm

    LOL… I always wondered when doctors decided they could offer parenting advice in addition to medical advice! This is the main reason we’ve never seen a pediatrician – a family doctor doesn’t question where baby sleeps or anything that mom decides… 😀

  2. teambaby permalink
    January 9, 2009 7:13 pm

    When I have a baby, I’m going to babyproof my 18th floor condo by moving it closer to the ground. That should work, right?

    I’ve been thinking about this as I start thinking about getting preganant. Besides a shaky old baby gate on the stairs, my parents didn’t do any baby-proofing. Seems like using too much disinfectant–your kid won’t gain any immunity to foolishness if there are no chances to slip up!


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