Currently my middle son, Jack, is being screened to enter a study on autism at NIMH. One of the results of this screening is that he will end up with a diagnosis. Hallelujah! One of the other results of this screening is that I will end up feeling like the worst mother on the face of the planet because I can apparently remember nothing about his life up to (and including) this point.
My husband and I spent our morning the other day in a tiny room being interviewed for three and a half hours about the minutiae of Jack’s development from birth to last week. Considering I’ve lived with the kid for more than four and a half years and I recently pored over his baby book to fill out stacks of papers about him, you’d think I’d be able to supply some—any—information about him.
I didn’t feel so bad when I couldn’t answer the question, “When was the first time Jack spontaneously said ‘uh-oh’?” But it went downhill from there.
There’s nothing that will make you feel like a bad parent faster than being stared at by a doctor and your husband as you admit that literally the only thing you can remember about Christmas 2005 is that the tree was positioned so that it blocked the front door so visitors had to come in the side door. By the way, that is my youngest child’s first Christmas that I have no memory of.
I don’t know if it’s that I have a bad memory or it’s that I have three kids or what, but the first couple years of Jack’s life are kind of a blur. There is a large sort of blank spot between the time he was three months old and the time he turned three. I remember that he started school somewhere in there, but other than that, I’m not entirely sure of much else.
How many words did he have by 24 months? (“This is a touchpoint for me,” said the doctor.) Hell if I remember. I do remember bringing it up to the pediatrician, so I know it wasn’t a normal amount. Was he putting two words together when he started school? Did he make eye contact when he was a baby and then stop making it later? Did he ever make eye contact? Does he now?
Add to the humiliation the fact that they’re videotaping us so that when the beads of sweat form on my brow because I can’t remember if he had ten words before 24 months or after, every researcher that checks our file in the future will be able to see it.
The doctor did reassure us that “these are hard questions,” and, “your ability to answer these questions is typical.”
But then, like two hours later, when I could no longer answer questions such as, “What kinds of things does Jack like to play with?”, I knew that somehow I had surpassed that point I never thought I would: the point at which I was no longer thrilled to be talking about my child.
You’ll excuse me. I have some home videos to review.
This is cross-posted at Stimeyland, where Jean normally blogs so that she’ll remember things from here on out.