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Annual Check-ups, Football, and Growing Kids

A very specific feeling comes over me whenever I’m in a medical office with my children.  It’s a mixture of calmness, heightened senses, and the peace that comes from having one priority to focus on.

Just last night, after showing the kids the picture of Teo and me from six years ago in the NICU that Facebook reminded me of, they insisted on hearing the entire story again.  As they finished dinner I started the tale of Teo’s weeklong stay in the NICU because he had the “diabetic baby” stigma.  Teo chimed in with his favorite part of the story, “…and I was so big it looked like I ate the other babies!”


Recalling the feelings from that memorable week set the stage for today’s visit to the pediatrician.  With the kids’ birthdays being so close together and at the beginning of the year, it’s easy to remember when to schedule and efficient to knock out their annual physicals or “well child check-up” at the same time.

Today’s visit was fun because I finally get the hang of what questions the doctor wants me to answer and which she’s looking for the patient to address.  With Sienna, I spoke up for her at these appointments for probably two or three years past when I needed to.  I love our pediatrician and she was always gentle with me, but I figured out that I needed to pipe down and let Sienna speak up a couple years ago.

Determined not to make the same mistake with Teo, I hung back and let him speak up.  And did he ever!  He had a lot to tell the doctor – everything from the sports he plays with friends at school, to his every sniffle and cough for the past several months.  Later, while Sienna had her exam, Teo borrowed the doctor’s hammer to retest his reflexes and her stethoscope to check both his heart and mine. The doctor called him “The Kid with a Thousand Questions” by the time we left.

Sienna is now so big and capable of expressing her thoughts and feelings, I felt more like a spectator than a participant in her check-up today.


I love seeing the growth and development in the kids during these annual visits.  Teo did his eye exam on the letter chart today; last year he didn’t know all his letters so he still used the picture chart.  They were both champs about the blood pressure test, when last year Teo cried about how much it hurt.  Sienna needs to have a blood test to check cholesterol within the next year!

During the visit today, Teo mentioned football so I decided to appeal to the doctor for support on my position.  “Let’s ask the doctor what she thinks about tackle football at your age!” I triumphantly said.  She replied, “Well, I’m a bit ambivalent…” and went on to describe some pros and cons.

This has become a bit of a joke in our home.  Dennis recently remembered an episode of The Wonder Years where Kevin’s mom doesn’t want him to play football and he asserts himself.  We all watched it together last night.  After just retelling the kids the tale of Teo’s NICU stay and gazing at the infant picture of him in the little football jammies, this episode struck me deeply.  Kevin is twelve years old.  In six more years, Teo will be that age.  At the end of the show, Kevin comes home injured after yelling at his mom not to baby him anymore.  She resists her urge to help bandage up his hand, instead telling him where to find the first aid supplies.  The poignant narrator explains how nothing really happened, “…but something changed that will never be the same again.”

I sobbed.  Teo sobbed.  He said, “I don’t want to grow up, Mommy!”  I had to pull myself together to explain that growing up is what’s supposed to happen.  God designed him to grow and experience all these wonderful stages and I’ll love him so much at each and every phase of his life.

That is, as long as he doesn’t get a concussion from playing football.

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