“I’ll be the one who looks like a Minion,” my son’s pediatrician said before she hung up.
I laughed and ended the call. I was sitting in the car with my 17-year-old son in the parking lot of our doctor’s office. Due to COVID-19, we had just finished screening for his annual appointment over the phone.
We donned our masks and walked into the office, the same one that I had toted him into 17 years ago when he was just a newborn. Oh, how much has changed over the years.
Then, he was an 8-pound lump of love. Now, he was a much bigger lump of love, towering over me at 6-foot-3.
Our pediatrician appeared to greet us. She did indeed look like a Minion from the Despicable Me movies, her diminutive frame covered in a yellow gown, face shield, face mask, and hair covering.
The three of us laughed over the absurdity of her appearance, our masks, and the situation in general as we made our way toward the examination room.
“Stop, let me get a picture of this,” I said. I snapped a photo of my tall, masked teenage son next to his petite pediatrician in full PPE gear, doubled over with laughter.
This picture is striking to me, but not for the reasons you would think. While the craziness of the situation is why I took the picture, it is the two people in it—and their shared history—that means the world to me.
I see the pediatrician who walked beside me those first weeks after I had my son, my first child.
The baby who wouldn’t gain weight even though he breastfed all the time. I cried in front of the pediatrician every week as we tried to fatten him up, with the pain of breastfeeding and shocking lack of sleep fueling my tears.
“These are fixable,” she told me of our feeding problems back then. “Hang in there,” she counseled as we spent weeks trying to figure it out.
And figure it out we did.
I see the pediatrician who coached me all those years ago when my son didn’t sleep like so many other babies did. “He’s active,” she told me. “That’s a good thing,” she said, as I crumbled under the pressure of trying to maintain a sleep routine that seemed to put every other child in the world to sleep, but only entertained my still wide-awake child.
I see the pediatrician who tried everything through the years that my son suffered from ear infections. Waiting them out, thoughtfully administering antibiotics, and finally advising the tubes in his ears that worked so well.
I see the pediatrician who followed up with us after those emergency room visits that are part of being a parent: There was that time he stuck an itty-bitty crane up his nose and the time he caught a baseball with his left eye.
I see the pediatrician who predicted that my son would pass her in height by the time he was in middle school. He did.
I see the pediatrician who vaccinated him as a baby, toddler, kindergartener, preteen, and teen.
I see the pediatrician who gently pushed me out of the exam room when he was 13 so she could start having private conversations with a boy who was growing into a young man.
And as the years have gone by, she still says the same thing every year when he gets weighed and measured at the well-child visits. It was the same thing she said that day for his visit at age 17.
“He’s perfect,” she says. And I believe her.
So while it took a global pandemic to get a picture of my son with his pediatrician, I will cherish it. I don’t see the masks or the PPE. I barely see a petite doctor and a tall young man. What I see most of all is my healthy, almost-grown son and a special doctor who has always cared for him—and me.