handle with care
26 December 2000

Child’s Preadmission Health History

Child’s Name: Damian V

Birth Date: 5/5/98

Sex: _M_
[and he knows it, too -- likes pulling that thing -- ouch]

Father: Daniel V

Living at home with Child: Yes.

    [And you know, I think it may actually stay that way. Damian may have something I never did. A two parent family that actually like each other. A true nuclear family. Sounds positively old fashioned, doesn’t it?]

Mother: Tamar B

Living at home with Child:
[Yep. Hours a day, sometimes, just the two of us.]

Developmental History:

Birth Weight: 6 lbs 13 oz

    [He was this tiny thing with a red face, this stranger with delicate hands and curled in toes for such a short time, so recent a time, but already a small person's lifetime ago.]

Condition at Birth: healthy

    [Thank god. He almost wasn’t. Not a fun birth. Not a safe birth. But yes, he was healthy in the end.]

Scars and Birthmarks: a mole on his lower back, just above the left buttock.

    [Nestled into the small of his back like a mouse’s thumbprint.]

Daily Routines:

What time does child get up? 7:30 a.m. Go to bed? 10 p.m.

    [I’m lying. He gets up eight or nine hours after he goes to bed, but he goes to bed anywhere from 10 p.m to midnight. But I’m telling you what you want to hear. If I said he’s that much of a night owl, you’d think we were bad parents, you know you would. Even though he gets enough sleep. Really, I’m telling you what I think his sleep schedule will be once he starts school. And I’m betting you think 10 p.m. is scandalous enough. Trust me, if I put him down at 8, he’d be up for the day at 4 a.m. If you want to come over and hang with him then, I’ll give you a key. Hell, I’ll even have bagels waiting. But I’ll be fast asleep.]

Does child sleep well? Varies.

    [I’m starting to think it depends on atmospheric humidity, or maybe sunspot activity. Then again, maybe it’s just how much exercise he gets. Or how much Mommy Time he gets. Or -- oh hell, let’s just go with sunspots.]

Nightmares? Not usually.

    [Thank god. But I can always tell when he is having one. His breathing changes, comes in gasps. I wish I could smooth his hair and rub his back and make the monsters flee his dreams. I've tried. It doesn't work. Nightmares are strong stuff.]


Any food dislikes?

    [Ha ha ha ha ha ho ho ho hee hee oh god, stop it, you’re making my sides hurt!]

Almost everything except:

Favorite Foods: raspberries, strawberries, banana [a recent addition], cheese [with a decided emphasis on cheddar], salmon [used to be all fish but he decided he was being far too undiscriminating, so now it’s just salmon], pasta [thank god for pasta], rice, bread/cracker, yogurt [but not right now], tofu. [And ice cream and cookies, but you don’t need to know that.]

    [Can you believe this is ALL my kid will eat? MY kid? No veggies, no other fruit, no meats, no sandwiches -- god forbid two foods should mingle. Such a narrow palate, so little to give pleasure. Please tell me it’s a two year old quirk. Please tell me my little boy will become a gourmand with a refined but adventurous taste in food. Please tell me I won’t have to make macaroni and cheese for him for the rest of my life.]

Eating problems: He doesn’t eat enough variation -- won’t even try foods.

    [That counts as a problem, right? A big problem. Or is it just him being a kid? Do you want to hear about how he won’t try spearing things on his fork but instead picks them up with his fingers and places them carefully on the fork before putting the utensil in his mouth (and no doubt inadvertently letting the food slide off said utensil in the interim)? It’s a problem too. Well, okay, maybe it’s not, but it’s pretty amusing.]


Family and Social History

How long has family lived in Los Angeles? Since 1988.

    [My god, has it been that long? We’re practically natives. Why do you want to know, anyway? Afraid we might not speak the language?]

Where did family live previously? New York City.

    [Okay, now you know we don't speak the language. How strange that my son will grow up thinking of New York as foreign turf, with tall buildings and a complex subway system. He’ll be a tourist in my home town. Doesn’t seem right somehow. How about you import a few teachers from New York, teach the kids a little attitude, a little sass. How about that?]

Religious Background of Family

Mother: Jewish _X_ Non-Jewish __ Father: Jewish: ___ Non-Jewish _X_

    [Yes, an interfaith couple, except without the faith part. We have spiritual beliefs, in our own ways, but God -- excuse me, Yahweh -- well, not quite. So, you know, it’s fine if you teach Damian the basic rituals of various holidays -- I love Passover -- but don’t turn him into a yeshiva boy, okay? I’m not sure I could handle the cognitive dissonance. Respect his differences, or we’re outta there.]

Child History

Walked at _15_ months

    [Felt like it was never going to happen. Hard to remember why we were so damned concerned. He walked. He did just fine. Now he runs.]

Began to talk at _7_ months

    [You know what that word was? "Mama"? "Dada"? Guess again. "Cat."]

Toilet training completed at _not yet_.

    [Putting it off a bit longer, thank you very much. Diapers are easy. Stopping the car because "I have to pee right now!", not so much.]

What activities does child most enjoy sharing with mother? Reading, snuggling, chasing around house, gentle tumbling, playing with toys together, being sung to.

    [Tonight he stood at the piano and played two low notes while I played all the notes from high to low and he laughed with delight. Then he came up to me as I sat on the floor and ran his hands through my hair, fascinated at the way the strands fell through his fingers. Then he started pulling it a little too enthusiastically (ouch) so I bowed my head. He saw an opportunity and straddled my back. I obligingly crawled across the floor on all fours with my little cowpoke riding astride. How do you sum that up in a line and a half on a questionnaire?]

What activities does child most enjoy sharing with father? Same

    [Why would a two year old enjoy vastly different things with his dad? Are we supposed to say "sports!" and "video games!"? Or am I reading too much into this? Tell me I’m reading too much into this.]

How does your child handle new situations? Tendency toward being shy and independent, warms up gradually.

    [Don’t mistake his habit of wandering off by himself or the way he ignores you when you talk to him as antisocial behavior or, worse, as him judging and dismissing you. He’s just being cautious, like a cat who snubs you and stalks off to lick the webbing between his toes, only to creep up and settle in your lap with a ferocious purr hours later. My boy is shy, that’s all. Give him warmth and approval and he’ll surprise you with giggles and maybe even a hug.]

What helps comfort your child when troubled or frustrated? Singing to him, rocking, being held and soothed with words, then distracted by something new.

    [Import a rocking chair, learn the words to "Summertime," and have a toy truck on hand. It’s that simple. What do you mean you can’t fit a rocking chair in a classroom and don’t always have a Hot Wheels on hand? How can I possibly send my child there when you’re clearly so unprepared? Okay, I’ll tell you what. He gets a boo-boo, send him home. I’ll take care of the wails, the sniffles, the whine, and the sigh-and-snuggle that follows. Oh, I guess that would be disruptive, wouldn’t it? Huh. Maybe I’ll buy you a rocking chair, how’s that sound?]

Please describe something about your child’s personality that will help us understand him/her better. He’s very independent and focused. [Laser vision, this kid.] Loves books. [Loves loves loves books.] Restless. [Climbs the walls if he can find footholds.] Doesn’t respond just to please you. [Don’t try to fit him in a mold. The mold will break or the child will. And that will break my heart.]

What do you want the school to provide for your child?

Encouragement toward socialization,

    [Encourage him to notice other kids for more than a few minutes at a time, maybe make a friend or two, expand his world beyond the two of us and his nanny.]

more verbalization ,

    [Can you get our stubborn son to ask for things by name and answer direct questions? I’d love you forever.]

intellectual stimulation,

    [I think he’s hungry for it and I don’t always know how to feed that questing.]

whetting his appetite for learning.

    [Whetting his appetite for learning.]

    [Be gentle with him. He may be just another new kid in your youngest classroom but he’s my sweet, beautiful, musical, visual, sensitive soul, he’s my heart walking around in stained jeans, dinosaur tee shirt and a firefighter’s helmet. You won’t see how special he is right away, you’ll have to trust me on this. But act like he’s your own much-cherished child. For my sake.]

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