Thursday, June 14, 2012

Percentile, Shmercentile

I remember taking those standardized tests in school, the ones you'd take every year with your classmates.  Our teachers would draw circles on the board and show us exactly how to fill in our Scantron sheets.  "Don't go outside the lines, make sure you fill your circles in completely."  After building our own security walls around us to ensure no one would peek at our answers (with Lisa Frank folders, of course) we would begin.  Academics came naturally to me, and those tests were never difficult.  A few weeks later, my mom would show me the letter that came in the mail, comparing my scores to every one else's.  I was always proud when I was in the 99th percentile.  It felt good to be on top.

Henry, PT-ing it up.
I've had to change my perception of percentiles with Henry.  He's not being graded academically, but physically.  I see cute, chubby, healthy babies and their moms glow with pride when they say, "Oh, yes.  She's in the 80th percentile for her growth!"  I look at my cute, scrawny, healthy baby and say, "Yeah... he's a peanut.  He's up to the 19th percentile!"  Our doctor reminds me that Henry is perfectly healthy and has gained weight consistently throughout his life, and that there is absolutely nothing to worry about.  Some kids are big, some kids are little.  That's how bell curves work.  And it doesn't bother me. 

It did bother me, though, when his Physical Therapist told me that he is in the less-than-one percentile for his locomotive skills.  Henry is smart and funny and adorable (have I mentioned how cute this kid is?) and he gets where he needs to go, but I've been waiting, waiting... waiting... and waiting for him to crawl/walk/SOMETHING.  He just hasn't.  I know that it's more of a blessing than a curse, but he's a content, mellow little guy who doesn't get too worked up about most things and will wait for something new to come along instead of moving himself to find something to entertain him.  The Physical Therapist (we'll call her "Rosie", because that's her name) is confident that with a few exercises and a little time, we will get him where he needs to be. 

So, I'll attempt to stop worrying.  But I'm a good worrier.  99th%ile.


  1. All this comparison stuff must surely do your head in! Life isn't a competition just for being and breathing - not unless you make it so. How horrible to have your child's progress put to you like he is failing computer software. Kids do things at different times, when they feel like it. And do you know what, I don't remember if I walked at 11 months or 2.5 years. None of us do. IF there is any real problem then you can address it but it is most probable he is happy as he is. Be calm, be happy! All is well.

  2. You're absolutely right: everything is perfect. Henry is a healthy, happy baby and I need to remember that. The early intervention will pay off and his muscles will get strong and he'll be up and running in no time!

  3. But not really anonymous because I was your roommate for a brief period of time in the early 2000's, though we were more like ships passing in the night due to our field placements.

    My sister was much like Henry when she was a baby. She was a lay around kind of gal. My mom did the 'should I be worried?' thing, mostly because she hadn't ever stood up or even really crawled. And then, one day, just when my parents were considering looking into specialists, my mom looked up and watched my sister come walking through the room. And after that, she was off and running. It was like she just woke up one day and went 'oh, hey, look how much more trouble I can get into on two feet.'

    So that's something to look forward to.