We visited Dr. Awesome today for Seabass’ four-month well check and vaccinations. This wasn’t our first, second, or even third visit to the pediatrician. No, it was our fourth in as many months. Between a refluxy baby and a nervous mom, we’d already become well acquainted with the office staff. And that’s not taking into account all the phone calls. I’m pretty sure they recognize our phone number on their Caller ID now, too. If they weren’t all so kind, I’d imagine them rolling their eyes and pretending to shoot themselves in the head whenever my voice comes across the line.
It had been several weeks since the last time we’d weighed the little guppy, so there was a certain amount of excitement to see the number on the scale. Dr. Awesome laid our pink, fleshy naked boy on the infant scale and nudged the weight until it centered on 18 pounds. “Is that good?” I asked Doc. “Which percentile is he in?”
Now, I should take a moment to spill the beans and admit that I didn’t really understand the meaning of the word “percentile” until I had Seabass. It’s not as though it’s the hardest concept to grasp – I don’t know why it took me so long to get it. But now that I do, I want to know the percentile for EVERYTHING about the baby. And why? Because I want to know that he is normal.
No, scratch that. I want to know that he is better than normal.
There was a time in my life when I worked in the education field, specifically with young musicians. The kids were terrific: bright, funny, and eager to learn. It was their parents that were often the nightmare, nearly each one insisting that their child was a genius and deserved XYZ for it. There was a lot of latent and not-so-latent jockeying for position, even among parents of seven-year-olds. Perhaps especially among parents of seven-year-olds.
So you’d think I would take a moment to stand back and check my own not-so-latent competitive streak when it comes to Seabass. Yeah, you’d think.
Dr. Awesome entered Seabass’ weight, height and head circumference measurements into a program on his computer and I held my breath. “Looks like he’s in the ninety-third percentile for weight,” he reported, “the ninety-ninth percentile for height, and the ninetieth percentile for head circumference.”
This news yielded some serious high-five-ing and fist-pumping. “The ninety-ninth percentile for height?!?” I mused. “No wonder he’s so fussy all the time. His whole life has been a giant growth spurt.” Comments were made on how our boy would dominate the basketball court later in life, as though the fact that he has exceled at his one duty in life thus far – to grow – could possibly be construed as a competition.
Jake and I were both the first child to be born to our parents: Ambitious, head-strong, bossy and focused. Furthermore, we were both the only first-born members of our respective families. So when Seabass came along, we marvelled at the concept of a family of first-borns. “Our family is going to KICK BUTT!” we’d say. “Nothing will stand in our way!” Only occasionally did we back up a little, self-assess, and remind our obnoxious selves that life isn’t about winning. But that was before Seabass had percentiles to exceed.
Let the games begin.