Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Vaccines and intellectual failures

Today we had dual well visits: 2 months for Owen, 3 years for Will. I could dwell on how it felt to hold down little Owen’s arms as he got two shots in one leg, two shots in the other while I looked into his big, horrified eyes that said so obviously, “How could you do this to me???” and as I wondered, as I always do, about the wisdom of vaccines even as I follow the flock in having them all administered to my kids because I’m scared not to.

But I won’t.

Instead we’ll focus on Will’s intellectual shortcomings. We had to fill out a questionnaire to measure his fine motor, verbal and general intellectual skills as a 3-year-old. He had to draw horizontal and vertical lines and circles, pull zippers up and down on command, jump forward 6 inches and repeat a short series of numbers back to me, among other tasks. He would have passed the thing with flying colors if it hadn’t been for a scribbled half-stick man that Will was supposed to be able to identify as somehow human even though it was missing some key body parts.

My scripted question was: “What is that?” Correct answers included “snowman,” “mommy,” “daddy” and the like. But Will said, with full confidence: “a duck.”

WRONG ANSWER… And especially troubling when we consider that just this morning Will announced that he still had baby ducks in his tummy, even though a few weeks ago he said they’d come out. Perhaps it’s just Will’s postpartum confusion, but I may hang on to this duck misidentification thing as ammunition for that fateful day two years from now when Rob and I are arguing about whether we should (a) send Will, with his borderline August 31 birthday, along with his mostly older peers to face kindergarten and the following 12 years of his life as the physical and emotional runt of his class or (b) hold Will back and doom him to an extra year of life with his boring parents as well as a potentially larger-than-normal dose of intellectual boredom at school. “Remember,” I will say to Rob, who is already pretty convinced that we should send young, short Will full-steam ahead, “always remember the duck.”

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