Today was difficult. First of all, I have a cold, which is never fun. It's even less fun when you have an infant to take care of and an exuberant older child that you're trying to shuttle around to end-of-school-year activities. But Malcolm let me sleep from about 10:30 until 5 am last night, so I was doing okay (he wasn't asleep that long, but he'd been fed and Ryan took him downstairs while I went to bed; I have no idea when he actually fell asleep).
The boys had a pediatrician visit today. We were a bit rushed getting out the door (I didn't get any breakfast), but we made it there and things seemed to be going well. Gareth was his usual chatty self - he thanked the nurse for letting him play games (test his vision and hearing) and was perfectly cooperative and patient. Malcolm was a bit on the pukey side, but that's nothing new. Then the pediatrician started talking about how Gareth seems to be working at a higher level than most kids intellectually, he's very thoughtful and she's worried about Gareth socially. Uh, what? She thinks he has some quirks that could be off-putting to others. I mention that he's very outgoing, loves making friends, etc. She says that's fine but it's only half of it. He needs to recognize that others aren't reciprocating. And she goes on about how missing those social cues is one of the symptoms on "the spectrum". I don't know about you, but the only thing I can think of for that to mean is the autism spectrum. She doesn't want to label him just yet - maybe he'll be fine - but she wants to start the conversation. There are social skills training classes for kids.
Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling well enough and was so blind-sided by what she said that I didn't think of all I should have at the time. What "quirks" is she talking about? No idea. Sure, he has some, but what five year old doesn't? Yes, there will probably be kids who think he's weird or don't like him. I'm pretty sure that happens to most of us. How can she tell anything about his social skills from a ten-minute check-up? I was basically left feeling like any kid who isn't instantly in the popular crowd is now being told there's something wrong with them. But I don't want to be in denial if there's something going on, so I decided I'd talk with his preschool teacher.
We left the doctor's office, ran to the toy store to pick up something for the preschool pinata and a birthday gift, then rushed home to grab me some orange juice and Gareth a sandwich. Off to the pharmacy to get Malcolm some tylenol since I'm doubtful he'll happily make it through Gareth's "graduation" without it. We get to preschool late, just in time for the graduation stuff to start. I've yet to really eat anything, I'm not feeling great still, and Malcolm is starting to get fussy, so my emotions are barely in check. I made it through the graduation stuff and talked with a close friend about the morning's visit and she seconded my idea to talk to the preschool teacher.
I asked the teacher if we could talk after class (thinking I'd go home for the last hour of preschool). On my way out the door I broke down when a couple of moms asked how I was doing. I ended up talking with several other parents about what had happened, all of whom were full of indignation at the pediatrician, told me she's crazy, that Gareth does a great job socially, and even gave me some food. By the time we finished chatting I figured I may as well stay until class was over. So we went out to recess with the kids where I talked with Gareth's teacher. She sees him four times a week socializing with other kids. She also agreed that the pediatrician didn't know what she was talking about, that Gareth is developing just fine socially. Of course he won't pick up on all social cues yet - most kids his age don't; it's something they're learning still. She's bothered by how cookie-cutter the pediatrician's comments feel rather than letting each kid have their own personality. While we were talking we could see Gareth happily playing with his peers. Then he was engaging with some kids from the elementary school, kids two or three years older than him. We found out later that they had come up to Gareth and some of his friends and told the preschoolers that the playground was the older kids territory and the little kids shouldn't be there. Gareth was the one who had no problem telling them that he and his friends were allowed to be there and that there was their teacher and this was their place to play also. His teacher reassured me that Gareth is perfectly fine socially.
All of this has left me feeling less than confident about our pediatrician. Up until now she's been amazing. She's usually very non-alarmist and reassuring. This came completely out of left field and I'm not sure why it came up at all. I think I'll be trying to talk with her to figure out where this came from. I'm hoping she can re-build my confidence in her, because I'd really hate to have to change pediatricians right now, but if I need to I have no problem doing that.