Friday, June 1, 2012


As parents, we pass through the milestones of our children's lives with them. We record in the baby book the first steps, the first tooth, the first day of school, the first sleepover.

I've thought from time to time, though, that other moments marking progress toward maturity can be both more subtle and more significant than these physical signs. The first time the toddler comforts a stressed-out mom by handing her a stuffed animal. The first self-motivated and self-inflicted bath. The first time the child consistently hits the bucket during a bout of the stomach bug.

Yesterday Husband and I witnessed one of those milestones: We sat as observers as one of our boys talked to a health specialist.

This Boy's life began with unexpected complications, and over his childhood we've been the ones to be vigilant of his health. We were the ones who made sure his health history accompanied him to camps and field trips, just in case. We sat with him in doctors' offices and described the symptoms he had noticed and when he had told us he had noticed them. Always, we reminded our son that he was responsible for his body and its workings, and we tried with varying success to not hover.

Last week Boy noticed unusual symptoms, symptoms he'd been warned for years that he might some day expect, and he asked me to make an appointment with our family doctor. The family doctor was concerned enough to send him on to the specialist he's seen before.

"Are you his parents?" the nurse asked Husband and me as we sat in the waiting room. "Why don't you come back with him?"

So we were there as Boy talked to Dr. Awesome about the symptoms he's been having. He described the pain, was able to tell its quality and timing, and could give accurate and diagnosable details. We were there when the doctor compared his latest tests to those already on record. We were there when he told Boy that all was well, and that these new symptoms were not to related to his chronic issues.

The calm with which I write that last sentence is in no way related to the enormity of the relief we felt when we heard it. Mixed in with the relief, though, was a bit of wonder at this new milestone: We are now certain our Boy is competent and willing to take care of his own health issues.

I don't even remember his first step. This is a much bigger milestone.

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