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Twinkle Toes Meets Cranky Pants

Today I woke up totally cranky pants. I went to bed too late and got up too early and everything irritated me. Especially my five year old, who, to be fair, was not really doing anything wrong except for being awake at 7am. Which she always is. And being five. Which she also always is.

Today my pet peeve was her toe-walking. She used to do it constantly when she was younger. The pediatrician noticed it when she was two and sent her to an orthopedist who gave her orthodics to put in her shoes and little braces to wear while she was sleeping. The braces were supposed to keep her feet flat, and her toes pointing up, hence loosening the muscles in her ankles and calves. She wore them for almost two years, through an entire NYC summer. You know what is not comfy when it is 95 degrees and humid? Plastic leg braces. But Maya was a trooper and wore those damn things every night without complaint.

Oh how I hated them.

Eventually she started walking on her toes less. The orthopedist referred us to a neurologist who examined her for a full half an hour and determined that there was absolutely nothing wrong with her. She said some kids just toe-walk out of habit and that Maya would outgrow it eventually. The braces were immediately stuffed into the back of her closet, never to be worn again.

No wonder people complain about the cost of health care. We could have told the doctor that there was nothing wrong with Maya. She can climb anything, runs faster than Hermes, and dances like she's been professionally trained. (She hasn't. She's five. I'm not that mom.) Her roundhouse kick could knock out Jon Jones. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a bit but the point is that her legs work fine.

They work fine!

Back to this morning. Here is Maya, tiptoeing to the kitchen like she is trying to sneak a cookie. (She wasn't. I checked.) "Feet down, Maya." Here is Maya toe-walking her way to the couch with her bowl of cereal. "Feet DOWN, Maya!" Oh look, Maya just tripped over her own ballerina feet and has narrowly avoided spilling Rice Krispies everywhere. And now here I come, crankypants mommy. "Maya if you don't stop walking on your toes I am going to call the doctor and make her put your slippers back on." (We called the braces her "slippers".)

I wouldn't do that. I hated those things even more than she did. The minute the doctor said she was fine I threw them right in the fireplace. (Well, I would have anyway. If, instead of Brooklyn, we lived in a nice country cabin in the woods with a roaring fire and some deer in the back. And a stream. With ducks. I like ducks.)

Where was I? Oh yes, the toe-walking. Why the hell was she doing it again? It drives me crazy! Every time she trips or stumbles or falls flat on her face I immediately blame her. You tripped over the dog while she was trying to steal your sandwich? Stop walking on your toes! The polar ice caps are melting? Screw global warming, Maya must have been toe-walking again.

Perhaps I am a bit obsessive?

Over the weekend my mother bought Maya the cutest new boots, grey and fuzzy with zippered sides and a little bow in the front. She loves them. I love them. (Seriously, I would borrow them if we were the same size.) Except for the one inch heel. Why the f**k would anyone make kids boots that have a heel? Do we need our five year olds walking around with their tiny butts firm and lifted and their hips pushed forward? Don't shoe makers know that it is hard enough for us mommies to say no to ice cream for breakfast and American Girl Dolls? Don't they know that my child already walks on her toes?

Again, maybe some therapy would help?

If toe walking is a habit than clearly it is not Maya's fault. She is not doing it on purpose to piss me off. That is what a habit is. Matthew leaves his socks buried in the couch cushions. I bite my nails. Maya toe walks. None of it really matters in the end. (Except to crankypants mommy. Everything matters to her. )

I blame her doctor, whom I adore by the way, for my neurosis. One of my friends has a child who walks the same way as Maya and her pediatrician has always said it was no big deal. I am sure my friend doesn't even notice when her kid does it.  But Maya was identified as having a "problem", something that required two other professionals to check her out. And now, even though those professionals have signed off on her being totally fine, her toe-walking is still like nails on a chalkboard to me; like a huge neon sign blinking "NOT NORMAL, NOT NORMAL" over and over again. It is a part of her that needs fixing and it is my job of course, as her mommy,  to make her absolutely perfect in every way.

Which makes me think about doctors and teachers and therapists and anyone else who at some point may tell a parent that their child is lacking. That he is not like the other kids. That he needs to "get that checked out". When you sentence a child (and her mommy) to a string of specialists and waiting rooms and blood tests and tutoring sessions and whatever else is required to "fix" them, you are also sending the message that whatever is wrong with their kid needs to be fixed. ASAP.

What if it doesn't?

Better safe than sorry right? I mean what if Maya really did have a neurological problem that was making her toe walk and we didn't find out until it was too late? What horrible parents we would be! So we trust the doctor and we do the tests and we wear the braces all as a precaution against....what exactly? That her legs might not work when she's older?


The truth is that  parents will do everything they can to make sure their child grows up to be the best she can  be, both mentally and physically. We have to. It is our job to do so. It is our job to drive to checkups and dance recitals and test prep. It is our job to stretch muscles and rub in creams and sometimes even administer medication that will allow him to focus long enough to learn math. Anything less, and we are bad parents.

So yeah, I hate it when Maya toe walks.

Or maybe I just needed some coffee.


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