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There's Good News And There's Bad News

Maddie and Cora had their well-baby visits
yesterday, and received clean bills of health all around, for which
I am profoundly grateful.

As is my habit, I had a chat with the doctor about a couple of
things going on in their lives that are on my radar right now, and
we’ve got some good news and some bad news for the girls in
terms of their near futures.

First, the good news. Both girls were tested for strep to see if
they’re carriers, and neither one of them are. Which means
that all the times they’ve been sick this year, it’s
been because they’ve actually caught strep from someone else.
Which I guess if I think about it is actually bad news, because I
can’t think of a way to protect us more.

Now for the bad news, mostly for Cora. It’s time for the
pacifier to go.

I know, of course, that the pacifier
isn’t “needed” any more; babies don’t
really need a pacifier past three months old, and it merely becomes
a lovey. I’ve tried to phase it out by insisting she sit
every time she wants it, so she doesn’t walk around with it
hanging out of her mouth like a cigar. And that’s helped a
bit, but she’ still addicted to the thing. Which
wouldn’t be so bad – at some point, her friends will
tease her about it and she’ll give it up on her own –
except that the doctor pointed out where her teeth are coming in
crooked as a result. I believe her exact words were,
“It’s time to pull the paccy.”

I’ve explained this to Cora – told her she’s not
going to be allowed to use the pacifier any more except for naptime
and nighttime, cutting out her car time or snuggle breaks.
I’ve also told her that after about a week of that,
she’s going cold turkey. She was so amenable to this
suggestion that I am absolutely certain she doesn’t
understand what’s about to happen. Pray for us.

There’s more bad news, this time for Mommy: the professional
opinion on Cora’s separation anxiety is to not force it. We
discussed the manifestations of Cora’s anxiety at some
length, and the doctor was concerned Cora would get pretty severe
abandonment issues if I tried to “tough love” her
through it. She encouraged me instead to continue what I’m
doing: press forward with leaving her for short times with whomever
Cora will tolerate, and continue to expose her to lots of friends
and group situations, while being there for her when she needs it.

This is, of course, a rich woman’s predicament; after all, if
I absolutely had to work forty hours a week to make ends meet, Cora
would have to find a way to deal with it, and she would,
eventually. But the doctor’s opinion is that Cora’s
personality and emotional disposition will be best served by riding
this thing out. She predicts another six months to a year, which
sounds like an eternity to me. I also pointed out that I still have
to leave Cora to cry herself to sleep sometimes for naps, and
wondered aloud if I should discontinue that. “No,” she
said, “that’s different: Cora knows the routine, and
knows she won’t be able to get out of her crib until she
falls asleep. She knows you will be there when she wakes. Walking
away and leaving her at a friend’s house for four hours, out
of her routine and schedule, is completely different and can set
her back years. Cora may well grow up to be fiercely independent
– just give her what she needs right now.”

All right, all right. Can I get that in writing on a prescription
pad, to show all those moms who tell me I give in to her too much?

The last good news/bad news is for Maddie. We discussed
Maddie’s fear issues, looking at school and gymnastics and
swimming and potty training, and she said it’s pretty clear
that Maddie’s a gifted child (of course she is, and give this
woman a raise) and that gifted children exhibit more fear at this
stage of their lives than most kids. The pediatrician said
she’d just read a new book on the subject, which said gifted
kids have a larger-than-usual fear of the unknown, and need to
understand a situation fully before entering into it. So the bad
news is that this is probably not “just” a phase, and
may be around a while. Negative reinforcement will not help –
again, it’s a grit your teeth and beg for patience thing.

The good news is that my child’s a genius. So she’ll
get a scholarship to Harvard and support me in my old age.

As long as she can do it via correspondence, from the comfort of
her own room.


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