Like today at the YMCA playground. It’s a great little space for Toby to get out some of that nonstop-four-year-old-energy, and the floor is padded with mats, so it’s a good place for Max to hang out and get in some tummy time on his blanket. Today we were the only ones there, so Max and I had the ground level to ourselves, and we started practicing his PT exercises. Some baby sit ups, some rolling over, and a whole lot of kisses and tickles.
And then another mom and her son show up.
And I realize how silly I look.
“Aw,” says other-mom, “How cute. How old is he?” Three months old. Three months old, and I am coaching my baby on how to turn over. He’s not even old enough to be “behind,” and yet here I am helping his body do something it’s not quite ready to do, correcting the way he holds his head, and getting all excited when he flexes his itty-bitty neck muscles. Heck, why don’t we start teaching him to play the violin while we’re at it?
This is when I’m not sure what to say. I don’t want to introduce my kid with a diagnosis. Today I went with “He’s in physical therapy, and this is something we’re working on.” That seemed a way to explain what I was doing and put some sort of medical weight behind it
But really, thinking about it, I’m fairly certain the other-mom didn’t care. My explanation was all about me. “I’m not the kind of mom who keeps track of whose baby rolls over first,” I wanted to say, “I’m only doing this because the doctor said we must.”
And when I get beyond myself, there's a deeper worry--about what it will be like for Max, growing up, to be constantly prodded to be someone he isn’t quite yet.
I understand that these early intervention steps are useful and necessary. I’m just still working out a way of thinking about them.