Zach had a doctor’s appointment less than a week after he was born. They weighed and measured him and came back with his percentile score: 4.
4th percentile, hmm. I never was much into science, but when Kris first told me she was pregnant, I thought there might be a chance the child could get some of my genes. I thought back to my first day of school when I learned I was small. Not just small, the smallest. And I remained the smallest, all the way into my sophomore year in college.
4th percentile. My genes at work.
So Kris stuffed him his first two months of life. If he cried, he got milk. If he whined, he got milk. If he whimpered, he got milk. If he sneezed, he got his diaper changed (my genes, remember).
Time hurried through two months of life and visitors and giving to the boy.
And the boy had his appointment. I got off work just in time to football hold him for his shots. He got some shots in each thigh and cried for a few seconds: he got her pain tolerance genes.
And then the weigh-in.
Zach was born three weeks early. His first weigh-in, and 4th percentile score, wasn’t fair because he was being compared to full term babies. With each successive weigh-in, I expected him to be up to the size of normal babies.
I come from a tall family. 6’1″ dad and 6 foot brothers. My cousins are 6’7″, 6’4″, and 6’3″. Two 6 foot aunts. And a 5’2″ mom who was kind enough to donate my stature gene.
My runty genes were sure to skip a generation, so Zach was probably in the 60th percentile or so by now and would end up in the 75th by his six month appointment.
His clothes came off. And onto the scale he went.
The weight came up in kilograms. I did some quick math. At four pounds a kilogram, my boy was probably pushing 20 pounds at just ten weeks old! That was 80th or 90th percentile territory.
The nurse typed some numbers into her computer.
“What percentile is he?” I asked, excitedly.
She looked at me, looked down at her computer, and looked at me again.
“6,” she said.
“That’s it. 10 pounds 2 oz. 6th percentile.”
I looked at her and I looked at the boy.
I dressed him and took him home.
“6th percentile,” I said, proud of him. “Two more than last time!”
And the boy gave me a laugh with a future in it.