Is My Kid Normal?

“Is my kid normal?” is the second most common question I am asked during a pediatric visit.  (Not surprisingly, the most common question is from a fearful child asking if they need a “shot”.)  By asking about normal what parents are really asking is “Should I be worried?” and “Why does my kid do THAT?”.

My answer usually starts with questions to the parent seeking details about what their child can and can’t do.  But to be honest, when a father brings the child I get a little doubtful because I often get the same response. “How many words can your child use in a sentence?”. Blank look.  “Can she follow two step commands?”. Blank look.  Then with a look of humility the dad reaches into his pocket saying, “Here, let me call her mother and you can talk to her”. Continue reading

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Will My Kid Survive Kindergarten?

Originally posted here.

This past month my daughter and four million other five year olds in the United States started kindergarten.  Standing next to them on that appointed day were eight million of us parents and caregivers, each a basket case of emotion.  How could someone who was entirely dependant on us for survival only a few years ago (and for some forgettable moments this past week) survive the perils of kindergarten?  When did she become so grown up? Will she be able to speak up for herself?  Will she be lonely?  Can she handle the rough and tumble playground politics or just sit still during class?   Continue reading

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My Child’s Perfect School Lunch

Originally posted: http://www.momsrising.org/blog/my-childs-perfect-school-lunch/

A few weeks ago my daughter took her first steps into formal education, kindergarten.  I have been a little surprised to find this has involved a transition not only for her, but for me, too.  Not only does her mother and I want her dressed comfortably and ready to learn, we have to plan or pack a meal that she will eat without us watching. Thus far we have been packing dinner leftovers from the night before, thinking that food from home would be comforting in an unfamiliar setting.  But amidst the chaos of sending her across town to school, already we are searching for ways to make our morning routine easier, including signing her up for the school lunch program.  But the nagging question is, “What if she doesn’t like what they serve?”  

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Filed under Appa (Fatherhood), Health, Parenting

Interview with a Kindergartener

Originally posted here.

This summer I took my 5-year-old on a last-hurrah-before-kindergarten-daddy-daughter trip. Our flight was delayed for two hours but frankly, we didn’t mind being trapped in the new traveler-friendly Terminal 2 of the San Francisco Airport – we even peeked in the yoga room. Knowing that kindergarten was a mere two months away has filled me with thought and emotion, including coming to terms with seeing my daughter as a more independent person. So I decided to use this unscheduled break to ask for her thoughts on the matter. Continue reading

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My Visit to the White House

Last week I was honored to attend a discussion at the White House convened by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. It was one of those rare “clear my schedule immediately” invitations; I thank my patients and family for allowing me to take this last minute trip.

Physician leaders from around the country were invited to the White House for a dialogue with lead government health officials (specifically administrators from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation) over the challenges and opportunities health care providers face in the race to meet deadlines set by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). What followed was a fascinating, solutions-oriented discussion about how government can support and incentivize the provision of health care that both patients need and doctors strive to provide. As expected, common points of discussion were challenges to building a Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH), achieving electronic medical (EMR) record meaningful use, and developing Accountable Care Organizations (ACO).

Now before you stop reading, give me a chance to make this migraine-inducing jargon make sense. Your experience with the health care system may change in the near future.

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Lessons for my 5 year old, the tragedies at Oikos and Virginia Tech

Tomorrow my daughter turns five years old. And having endured the San Francisco Unified School District “lottery” she will begin kindergarten in the fall. So I have been thinking a lot about how to prepare her for the classroom environment and, in a way, life. The tragedy last week at Oikos University, though, brought to mind another five-year anniversary, the massacre at Virginia Tech.

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Health Reform Year Two: Tens of Millions Served

As we mark the second anniversary of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) now is a good time to have what in medical parlance is called a “time out” and reflect on how far we have come and where we need to go.

Some states are challenging the legality of vital provisions such as Medicaid expansion and the mandate for all Americans to carry health insurance.  Candidates vying for President Obama’s job vow a complete repeal of the ACA.  Not surprisingly, polls show a confused public wondering what the health law means for them and the health plan they have now.  Despite this, the obfuscations cannot hide the reality that tens of millions of people have already been served by the initial phases of ACA.

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