Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Giant Baby

Dylan just had her nine month check-up and was signed off with a clean bill of health. 75th percentile in weight, 95th percentile in height, and, like any poll or statistic, we've manipulated the numbers to mean much more than necessary. She's tall! and strong! She'll crush her foes (prospective boyfriends who are undeterred by her father's gun collection) and rule planet Earth someday!

But, while the appointments are all fine and good for our baby (except for the shots, of course), I always feel like I'm going in for a very important oral exam for which I have not studied. I don't mean to imply that our pediatrician's office is intimidating, in fact, it's quite the opposite. Our doctor is knowledgeable and athletic; the nurses are all kind and attractive. It's like a TV show doctor's office. (Our doctor's name: Don Johnson. Really.) I just know that if I'm screwing up as a father, they're going to call me on it. I quietly pray as Dylan is placed on the digital scale that she's gained the appropriate amount of weight and is not over or under-nourished. I cross my fingers as Dylan gets inspected, worried that they'll catch some "flaw" that is a direct result of something I did, or did not, do properly.

In college, my friend Matt and I took a "Film Appreciation" course from a quirky and brilliant professor. Dr. Diane Borden could analyze and dissect anything. We learned that the same archetypal symbols found in films are also in dreams, hence, she could, and often did, discuss what student's dreams meant. Matt vowed he'd never offer up a dream of his for analysis because, no matter what the dream was about (hunting, making out with chicks, splitting wood), he feared Dr. Borden would look up at him in the last row of the auditorium, scratch her chin, and say, "Well, you're gay."

I feel the same trepidation Matt felt. I'm offering up my baby for analysis and I'm terrified of the response. I keep expecting the nurse to look at me, scratch her chin, and say, "We'll keep her for a while until you get better at this." I keep looking for the hidden hotline button that will have CPS kicking down the door to the waiting room in under five minutes.

So far, things have gone well -- except for the pee-fountain that Dylan poured out on our first visit which sent Regina and I into helpless hysterics. Sharon, the nurse, calmly placed her hand over the geyser until it subsided (I didn't even know girls could pee in that direction) and cleaned off the walls with a handful of baby wipes. I thought I saw her marking something on her clipboard, and I'm sure I lost some valuable "father points."

Luckily, we've been able to keep Dylan after each check-up. When Dr. Johnson hands her over and tells us all the nice things people say about babies (she's beautiful, she's happy, she looks like her mother ...) and says he'll see us in three months, I quietly exhale a sigh of relief and run as fast as I can to the truck before CPS arrives.

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