How to Know If Your Teenager is Too Old for the Pediatrician

It’s the night before my son’s first high school lacrosse practice this season when he realizes he needs the completed doctor’s form to be allowed to participate. “Mom, what should I do?” he asks me. The answer seems obvious to me but it has completed befuddled him. “Call the doctor, ask if you need a checkup for the doctor to complete the form, and if so, make an appointment,” I tell him.

And that’s how the episode begins.

The next day we are in the pediatrician’s office, surrounded by wailing babies and coughing toddlers. Because Garret is 16,  the doctor says I still need to go in with him. Now that we are here, and Garret has learned he will be seeing a female doctor, he is panicked. “Is she going to need to check my pee-pee?” he asks me. This thought never occurred to me before this moment. “I’m not sure,” I say.

Minutes later, (thankfully) we are in the examination room staring at cartoons on the wall and pictures of cute animals. Garret turns to me and says, “Mom, I think I’m too old for this place.”

I act surprised by Garret’s declaration, although secretly I’m thinking the same thing. My two older children went to the pediatrician until they left for college but for some reason, this whole experience has become uncomfortable.

Even worse, suddenly, it’s all about me. As much as I hated going to the pediatrician when the kids were young, I don’t want to be the mom whose kids no longer go. To me, that means I’m old.

In comes the doctor, as nice as can be. She asks a ton of questions and all is well.  Until…the dreaded part of the physical. Now she is telling Garret about STDs and warning him about testicle injuries and yep, she needs to take a look down there. I bury my head in my hands.

“All good,” she says.

We head out the door with the signed form in hand. My son is mortified and he lets me know it. “Mom that was SO awkward,” he says. “I agree,” I tell him. “Next time we will make sure we get one of the male doctors,” I say.

For now, he is satisfied with my answer. For now, I leave with the comforting feeling I still have a child who goes to the pediatrician. I know it won’t last much longer. So, to make us both happy, I grab two lollipops on the way out.

Readers, until what age do you think it’s okay to take a teenager to the pediatrician’s office? Mine told me they see teens up until age 21 and can allow them in without a parent after 18. I think 18 may be the oldest I would consider.

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