Thursday, July 24, 2014

Gross Motor Skills

The children had their annual well visits to the doctor earlier this week, and we're of course relieved and blessed to report that we won't soon be the subjects of a Dr. Nancy Snyderman segment on the Today Show. Still, this wasn't the typical well visit, as the good doctor gave a some take-home assignment this time.

Today the newly minted 5-year-old  was diagnosed with something called hypermobility, which sounds like something this guy would have suffered from (or maybe enjoyed), but instead is something this guy has. This means that he's double-jointed, I think, but "double-jointed" doesn't sound medical enough. It also means that his fine motor skills are anything but. But in order to strengthen his fine motor skills, he must first strengthen his gross motor skills. (We'll pause here and allow you to come up with your best machine-gun farting in his sleep jokes. All of them are applicable and appreciated. Go ahead, we'll wait.)

No. Gross motor skills instead are things like being able to jump off the couch onto your little brother's head, throwing a baseball at your little brother's head, or passing a routine sobriety test. Also the essential skill of hopping on one foot on your brother's head, something that admittedly I've never seen him do, though not out of pity. The fact that he can't stand, let alone hop, on one foot at the age of five without falling into the bookshelf is terrifying to me, because that means he's just like me. I have no gross motor skillz. I didn't learn to tie my shoes until third grade. Just last year (last year) at a children's museum I fell off a balance thingie and plowed over a mother AND her daughter. This was LAST YEAR.

In order to avoid those embarrassments and many like them befalling my son, we'll be taking him to OT, which is not overtime, but Occupational Therapy, yet another thing that sounds like something it's not. "After a rough day at the office, I just need to go to the bar for some Occupational Therapy." Wrong. This OT involves training that will enhance his muscles so that when it comes down to fine motor skills, his handwriting won't look like the crawler on al-Jazeera TV (unless he wants it to) and he'll be able to load the copy machine at work without producing a ream of accordion fans.

The kid comes by it honestly, though. After 39 years it didn't seem abnormal to me that I can bend my index finger back a little. And my wife, at the ripe old age a ripe age, didn't realize that not everyone can touch their wrist with their thumb. Every time I think about touching my wrist with my thumb, my thumb hurts as I feel it breaking off into my lap. The Rocky Statue is more likely to be able to touch its wrist with its thumb. The last thing I need is to lack opposable thumbs, so I don't even try. In fact, I don't even look at my thumbs any more. I really like having thumbs.

So far the hypermobility hasn't hindered his sports aptitude much. He regularly kicks soccer balls into the other team's net, can ice skate slowly in a straight line and can hit a baseball. (Though I worry about his swing. We've been working on the proper "step and swing" technique, and every time I pitch the ball he does the Pennsylvania Polka with the bat and swats at my patented slow, straight ball like it's a darting horsefly. So I usually just let him rip, bad technique and all.)

Next week this very same kid goes for an eye exam. I'm too afraid to know how that goes.

Of course, we still feel blessed. Plenty of parents are spending way too many hours and days in the hospital, caring for and worrying about kids with serious illnesses. That our worst-case so far is a treatable, minor condition that may make my son a little clumsy but ultimately poses no threat to his well-being? That's a pretty good day at the doctor's office.

If you're reading this, Mimzy, we're thinking about you.

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