A little while back I suspected that Monkey might be having some trouble seeing. (I think this was because he’d developed the habit of reading with the book resting within an inch of the tip of his nose.) I took him to the optometrist for an exam and they said no, his vision was only very slightly off (like, maybe 20/30 instead of 20/20), and he was fine. Probably we should tell him to hold the book a little further away.
I told him to hold the book out further, and he did. End of story.
Except that while Monkey was away on this last trip with his dad, my ex called me up one day and said, “I think Monkey needs glasses. When’s the last time you had his eyes checked?” He may or may not have said it in an accusatory way, but of course all I heard was “DAMN, WOMAN, YOU ARE A TERRIBLE MOTHER. THIS CHILD IS BLIND, YOU NEGLECTFUL WHORE.”
I went ahead and made an appointment for Monkey to have an eye exam a couple of days after he returned.
Naturally, I went back to the same place I’d taken him before, which is not actually where Otto and I go, because my ex has vision insurance for him and the kids and we don’t have that. This is completely unimportant except that it means I am less familiar with the place I took him, and as I was filling out the paperwork, the optician asked me when Monkey had had his last exam.
“Um, I’m not sure,” I admitted. “But it was here, so I’m guessing you have it in the computer. Maybe a year ago? 18 months?”
The optician clicked around for a minute. “2009,” he finally announced, drily. Oh, you know, last year, three years ago, WHO’S COUNTING? Whoops!
Monkey chattered happily through the preliminary put-your-chin-in-this-machine sorts of things, though he did express deep suspicion over the puff-of-air-in-your-eyeball glaucoma test. (I can’t say as I blame him; that’s my least favorite, too.) Finally the optometrist came out to get him, and the actual exam commenced.
Sitting out in the waiting room, I heard a lot of “E! No, wait. B! Hang on. I think it’s a… is it a P? I need a hint!”
I was invited in at the end, and informed that Monkey’s eyes were “just starting to need some help,” and that he should feel free to take this first year in glasses to “get used to them” and wear them only for distance vision. “Take them off at the computer or while you’re reading a book,” the optometrist said. I listened closely to all of this, but Monkey was raring to head back out to the waiting area to pick some frames.
The optician was waiting for us. “Do you have any REALLY NERDY frames?” Monkey asked. “I want to look as nerdy as possible.”
“Too late!” I quipped, leading him over to the children’s frames.
The optician was left there, blinking rapidly, but as Monkey continued asking about which frames were the most nerdy, he recovered and walked over and leaned down to quietly tell my son, “I prefer the term ‘geeky,’ myself.”
I allowed him to try on a thick black-rimmed pair so as to fully indulge his inner nerdling, and then we set about actually finding him some appropriate frames.
About the third frame he tried was quite nice. “Oh, I like those,” I said. “Take a look.” He admired himself in the mirror.
“Me, too,” he said. “I like that they have the… the…” he gestured at the bottom of the frames.
“Those are called semi-rimless,” I said. “You like that? Let me find you a few more like that to try.”
“Why aren’t they called semi-rimmed?” he asked. I shrugged. “They SHOULD be called semi-rimmed. Or semi-rimful.”
“Yes, dear,” I said, handing him another pair.
Eventually we went back to that first semi-rimless pair and decided they were the ones. The optician took some measurements, wrote up our order, and told us to come back in a few days.
“Are my glasses coming today??” was the morning refrain for the next few days. And then one day the heavens opened and the angels sang, because we got the call that YES, his glasses were in!
When the optician put them on his face, Monkey let out a quiet, “Whoa.” We chuckled. He kept whipping his head around, reading every sign in the general vicinity, while the poor optician was trying to make adjustments on the frames. (I am quite certain we’re his very favorite customers.)
The drive home was sort of like the aftermath of Helen Keller finally spelling W-A-T-E-R. Monkey read every single sign to me. He pointed out bumper stickers on cars. He saw a BIRD in a TREE and did I have ANY IDEA there were BIRDS THERE??
Television viewing that night was studded with declarations of “USE PRODUCT ONLY AS DIRECTED!” and other fine print at the bottom of every commercial. It was all totally adorable and did not make me continue my internal self-flagellation over not having noticed the poor child was completely blind for possibly several years AT ALL.
We’re a few days out, now, and the bloom is somewhat off the rose. By this I of course mean that “On your face or in the case” has become my steady mantra, and Monkey is already adept at ignoring me. He regularly plops down on the couch to watch a movie with us and declares, “I can’t SEE!” and I’ll ask him where his glasses are. “I dunno,” is the usual response. Because he takes them off to read and leaves them upstairs. Or he takes them off to play Minecraft and leaves them by the computer. Or he takes them off in the car to read and leaves them on the seat. Or he takes them off to go swimming and leaves them almost anywhere. Etc.
Still, he’s miraculously not yet lost them entirely (give him time), and I have yet to stop being charmed by his delight at, you know, just being able to see stuff.
Not to mention that he looks both all grown up and totally little-boy-playing-professor adorable in his new specs.
We spent part of the day at the hospital with Chickadee yesterday (and that devolved into a disaster of epic proportions I can barely even speak of), but before everything went sideways there was that moment when we walked in and her face lit up and she ran over to hug me. I squeezed her as long as she would allow it, and then she turned to face Monkey and gave him a rather critical once-over.
“You look like a total nerd,” she proclaimed, loosely gesturing towards his glasses.
“I know!” he replied, quite pleased with both himself and her for noticing. She laughed, and then the rest of us followed suit. For that too-brief moment, I think all four of us had a clear view of everything that mattered.
It didn’t last, and I fully expect Monkey to lose his glasses once or twice or ten times, but still. The glee in the seeing is there.
(Not to mention that I am REALLY looking forward to a recitation of “If you have an erection that lasts more than four hours…” the next time one of those commercials come on while Monkey is watching.)