Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A very little problem

On Joseph's first day of school his class did a getting to know you exercise. They had to walk around the classroom and fill out a sheet that had things on it like "went fishing this summer" and "has two sisters" and "has blue eyes". Joseph had filled in all the spaces with names of his new classmates. All of the spaces except one. In the space for "is shorter than me" he had carefully drawn a large X. He rather sadly told me that he's the shortest on in his class. Again. Just like last year.

Every day when I pick Joseph up from school I stand near the front doors and wait for his class to come down the hall. I can never see him right away. He's always surrounded by kids several inches, if not head and shoulders, taller than him. I almost never see his face first. I just look into the forest of legs to watch for his trademark shuffle-shuffle-skip step that he uses to keep up with all his longer legged classmates.

Last week the kids had check-ups. Everything was pretty routine. Elle continues on her quest to be the next 50 Foot Woman by being in the 96th percentile for both height and weight.

Joseph is in the 5th percentile for height. He had a growth spurt this last summer that finally let us pack away his 5T clothes. I credit that for being what pushed him into the 5th percentile.

When his doctor plotted out Joseph's growth curve for me I got a dull ache in the pit of my stomach. He's spent most of his life well below even the 5th percentile. He's had the occasional little growth spurt followed by long periods where he didn't grow at all.

We've always played the waiting game when it came to Joseph's size. We always said "Well, he had a rough start in life. He just needs some time to catch up."

He's nine years old now. Shouldn't he have started to catch up by now? His doctor thinks so and she's pretty stumped as to why he's so tiny. (It's not just about where he's at now, it's also about his peculiar growth pattern.) She doesn't think it's genetic since both of Joseph's birth parents were of average height. She doesn't think it's nutrition related since he eats a healthy diet and a good variety of foods. So now we're at a loss.

The next step in trying to figure this out will come in January. We have an appointment to see a endocrinologist to see if they can figure out what's going on and what steps we can take to help Joseph grow.

What this doesn't mean: OH my god! My son is a little on the small side and I only want tall kids so now we're going to take him to a doctor who will give him painful hormone shots every day! Into his eyeballs!

What it does mean: We want to know if there's a way that we can help Joseph now so that when he's an adult people will just think that he's short, not that he's tiny. We want to know our options and know the risks and benefits of our options. The most important thing is that we want to do what's best for Joseph.

I think it's time to stop sitting back and waiting for things to happen. I think if there's anything that's going to help Joseph then we owe it to him to at least explore that option. We know that he'll always be small. We just want to give him a little boost if we can.
Small boy

Two years ago today I was huge and no purse could hide that fact.
Four years ago today Joseph was a sweetie pie.


Cathy said...

First - I think it's shitty that his teacher put "____ is shorter than me." on that form. She could have easily put "_____ is taller than me" and nobody would have to draw an X - because she's probably the tallest in the class, right?

Anyway... good for you for taking action. I'm looking forward to hearing what they can do.

Rima said...

What Cathy said!!! Who puts a question like that on a grade school worksheet, anyway?

I was always very small as a child and - no surprise - I'm a small adult. In my case, it was pure genetics, all the women on my dad's side ranging in height from 4 '10 to an Amazonian 5 '0. But I had a really hard time with it as a kid, so my parents did take me to an endocrinologist when I was about twelve or thirteen. I'm glad that they did, even though there was no intervention in my case, because otherwise I would have always wondered. You guys sound like you have a very healthy outlook on the whole thing, so Joseph should be A-OK.

Anonymous said...

Jen, I know Joseph takes medication, I assume that none of the side effects inhibit growth. Might be worth a look. I know that you and Jesse always do what is best for Joseph. He has tremendous height in lots of other areas: his compasstion for others, his caring about the environment, his interest in politics, his voraciuos reading ability, his quirky sense of humor, etc. I'm so proud of you and your family. Love to all of you... Grandma Judy

Anonymous said...

yeah, what cathy said.

Jen said...

I feel like I have to defend the teacher here. I agree that the "is shorter than me" thing was a little ill advised but other than that we really like her. Joseph really likes her and I feel like she does a good job addressing his particular needs.