Blind but gifted

By Mir
March 20, 2006

I don’t know if I ever mentioned this, but Chickadee’s therapist had the AUDACITY to go have a baby, leaving us therapist-less for a couple of months. I mean, there are back-up staff available in the event of an emergency. I’m not sure what would constitute an emergency, really. If she burned the house down? Or held up a fellow second-grader with a pair of safety scissors? Threw her brother down the stairs? Started reading cheesy romance novels?

So, every now and then something happens and I’m left wondering if we’re Having An Issue or if it’s just coincidence or I’m overreacting or what. Like, say, right now.

Chickadee wears glasses, and has for the past six years. She has bent countless pairs and required new nosepads, now and then, but has never actually BUSTED a pair of frames before.

Saturday I got a call at 8 in the morning that Chickadee had broken her glasses, and could they come over and pick up her spare pair? Setting aside my delight at having been woken so early on my one day out of fourteen to sleep in, I asked what had happened and my ex said he wasn’t sure, she was just sitting there and they sort of fell apart. Ummmm… okay. They came over and picked up her spare pair, which by the way is a brand new pair she’s never worn. We got a second cheapie set the last time, just to have on hand for such a case as this.

[Side note: I have a little vase of roses sitting on the kitchen table now, which was not there when the kids left on Friday night. Chickadee was VERY interested in where those might have come from and why and from whom. Simultaneously my ex became very interested in something fascinating on his shoe. And I was suddenly filled with great concern that they would be late! For class! So they should HURRY UP AND GO! So then they left and I was alone with my pretty, pretty roses and no pesky questions.]

This morning I got a phone call around 10:00 from the school nurse. I firmly believe that right after “Hello Mrs. Lastname, this is the school nurse” should come the phrase “YOUR CHILD IS FINE” because a better mother than me would probably panic that their kid had a broken bone or ebola or something. (Me, my stomach immediately clenches with the fear that I will be asked to retrieve a puking child. I dread The Puke.) Anyway, it took her three or four sentences to get to the “Chickadee is fine” part, so I was already annoyed with her. And then she said, “Chickadee seems to have broken her glasses.”

“But… she already broke her glasses,” I said, stupidly. “That’s her spare pair.”

“Yes, um, well, these have been broken.” She tried to break it to me gently, but it needed to be said.

“But those are her spares. The others are broken already.” I was a broken record of denial. Maybe if I said these things often enough, she would tell me it was all just a big misunderstanding! Like, maybe she MEANT to say that Chickadee had a FEVER, but she’d accidentally said she broke her glasses! Hahaha! We could have a good laugh together!

“She did mention that this was her spare pair. One of the arm pieces snapped off. She seems quite contrite.” Alright, no sense in arguing further. The glasses are broken. Move on.

“Okay… well… I obviously can’t bring her another pair. Do you need me to do something?” I may not have sounded quite as doting and longsuffering as I really am, at that point.

“No, not really. I just wanted to let you know.” There was sympathy in her voice. Whether for me (on the hook for another pair or two of “enjoy the sights now because your vision correction is eating your college fund”) or for Chickadee (could she tell what I was fantasizing about doing?) I cannot say, but I think it’s nice that she showed some emotion.

“Oh. Uh, okay. Thanks for calling.” I hung up and looked at the phone. She’d worn that pair for less than 2 days. I hadn’t asked how they’d been broken. After thinking about it for a few minutes, I decided that I was being a terrible mother, suspecting that it may not have been an accident. That second pair had been a model frame; maybe they had a preexisting weakness. It could happen to anyone.

When I arrived to pick the kids up this afternoon, Monkey ran up to me and asked if I had any bottle caps. (He no longer says “Hello” or indeed, nearly anything else, besides asking for bottle caps. He’s collecting them. And we’re not talking interesting-looking, exotic caps. We’re talking plastic twist-offs from bottle of water or soda. He is obsessed, and I am frightened.) Chickadee said, “I didn’t mean to.”

“I know that, honey,” I assured her, squeezing her shoulders and privately congratulating myself on being such a solicitious parent.

“I hit my head on the shelf, and they just snapped,” she continued. “It was an accident. It’s not my fault!”

“Sweetie, that’s why they’re called accidents. They’re no one’s fault. I’m not angry with you.”

“Cuz I didn’t do it on purpose,” she insisted. Now I was losing my warm and fuzzy feelings.

“May I see your glasses, please?” I held out my hand and she rummaged around in her backpack. Eventually she produced the frames sans one arm. “Where’s the other piece?” She dug around some more. Then I checked her bag. And we determined that she’d lost the arm piece.

Which means that they cannot be fixed.

I drove home with a little black cloud over my head. I still don’t know if they were broken on purpose (maybe, maybe not), or whether she lost the piece on purpose (possible, but this is a child who would lose her head if it wasn’t attached, so not necessarily). Fortunately, the original pair has been temporarily mended so we’ll go back to those. But I’m still left wondering what exactly happened, here.

After I’d gotten the kids through the evening routine and tucked into bed, I was puttering around when the phone rang. Chickadee’s been selected for a math enrichment thing (this I knew, already) at school, but it turns out that the person who was supposed to teach for her class has had to withdraw. So the coordinator was wondering if I would be willing to run the session?

I have no idea how I ended up getting this phone call, whether she’d thrown all of the parents’ names into a hat and pulled mine, whether the teacher suggested me, what. No idea. And on the one hand, a big part of my decision to work from home was predicated on the desire to be available to volunteer at school and such. I have the flexibility to do this.

On the other hand, I immediately flashed back to when I’d been hand-picked at my last engineering job to be part of the Future Scientists and Engineers of America team and go teach middle schoolers how to make rubber-band cars and such. There are all sorts of studies that show that even girls who are “scientifically inclined” are very likely to turn away from science and math once they get to middle school. Perhaps it conflicts with passing notes and wondering if boys like them. I’m not sure. So although FSEA is for all kids, they’re very interested in getting girls into the program. And as such, they prefer for their leaders to include at least one female.

Guess who was the only female on her team that year?

So, I joined up with FSEA even though I hate math with a fiery passion and probably wouldn’t have been caught dead participating in such a group as a kid, and I was supposed to be the role model for the young girls in the program. Look at me! I’m a female engineer! Girls can dig science! And have technical careers! And do exactly what men do!

The only problem was, I was pregnant with Chickadee at the time, and eventually had to, you know, leave to go give birth and let the resulting human dangle from my breasts for the next several months. So pretty much the message I sent was: Math and science are great and you can do anything you want to, but please excuse me while I go have this baby and maybe bake a pie. I’m sure the FSEA folks were really pleased with my participation.

Anyway, now I was being invited to run a unit on math enrichment, which could be my chance to totally redeem myself! We discussed it (I had to make sure none of it was going to be too hard for me, dontcha know) and I agreed to come teach. Because that’s what a good mom would do. And because of the five children from Chickadee’s class who were selected to participate, she’s the only girl. (I find that quite depressing, actually.)

Or maybe I just want to keep an eye on my kid and her glasses.


  1. ben

    You have just reminded me that I am very thankful that none of my kids wear glasses (at least, not yet). Because if there is one thing they are good at, it is breaking things. Another thing they are GREAT at (except the baby) is losing things. The baby is like a little magnet, she has tons of “things” with her at any moment in time and can find anything she wants in an instant, even in my cluttered house.

    Oh, crap, I turned this into About Me again. I keep doing that!!!

    It’s funny you should mention the Future Scientists deal, in my office I am one of five males (out of something like 60 workers) and you know what all the career women talk about all. day. long? Babies. And recipes. And sometimes, shoes.

    I don’t know what that means, but I’m sure somebody does. I can’t think of anything tougher than being a mom, ‘cept being a mom and working a job, too.

  2. margalit

    My daughter starting wearing glasses at 3 years old. She didn’t mind them for a while and then they started getting ‘lost’ or being stuck in her backpack all day, never being worn. Several pairs ‘broke’ under mysterious circumstances. By the time she hit 5th grade I gave up. I had replaced pair after pair after pair, and she never stopped destroying them. I took her to the opthamologist one last time, and told them she refused to wear her glasses. They told me that I couldn’t make her, and to let her go without them if she really wanted to. She hasn’t worn glasses since then. Her eyesight isn’t great, but evidentally she doesn’t care. She still participates in sports and does well in school, so I guess she’s learned to adapt.

    In other words, you can’t force Chickadee into wearing glasses if she flatly refuses. You’ll end up repairing pair after pair and it’s a losing battle. Either let her go without and get the headaches and sore eyes that will result, or hope that she can compensate well enough to get on with life.

    And I have 3 pairs of NEVER worn glasses in girls sizes sitting in my sideboard if you need some new frames. :-) Really.

  3. Vicky (Desperate to be a Housewife)

    We visit the optical store/optitians with my 8 year-old son’s broken glasses so much that I think they’re about to take out a restraining order on us…do not be stalking the optitians! They have a great warranty on them (that I bet the store wishes they never gave us) which means repairs are free, free, free! It’s just that the warranty on my CAR is going to be used up from the mileage I’m putting on it, driving there every week to get those damned glasses fixed!

  4. Marvo

    I wore glasses from the first grade to the fourth grade. I stopped wearing them because I wanted the kids to stop calling me a nerd. Unfortunately, they didn’t stop. I didn’t start wearing glasses again until after college and I could afford insurance. It wasn’t until I started wearing glasses again that I realized that I was really blind. I should’ve know my eyesight was bad when I couldn’t read road signs.

    Also, you were an engineer? That’s so cool.

  5. wendy

    Another vote for the “she’s breaking them on purpose due to an overabundance of peer realted issues” — I have experience in this. I can’t even begin to tell you how many pairs of glasses I “accidentally” broke through all kinds of varying methods. My favorite would be to “accidentally” put them on my seat and then “oh so conveniently FORGET” that I had put them there, and then suddenly SIT DOWN VERY HARD and oh! OOPS! I slipped!

    I also flushed my vitamins down the toilet so I didn’t have to swallow them. I was a sneaky, horrible child. A BLIND, low-in-riboflavin-and-all-forms-of-vitamin-B sneaky, horrible child.

    Chikadee seems to be a better child than I, despite whatever issues she has that requires a therapist, so I’m thinking it might just be a weird conincidence — but if you get to like three or four or say, TEN in the next month or two, I say it was for sure on purpose.

    Also, I have my own blog. Why am I rambling away on yours? Time to shut up.

  6. Belinda

    My toddler daughter keeps breaking MY glasses. 3 pair, I think we’re up to. And these are the supposedly ultra-bendy ones, that resist breakage. *sigh* Lightning-fast, she is, and can’t be stopped! I sure hope she never has to wear her own.

    Hey, you know what would be worse than ebola or a broken bone? Ebola of the broken bone!!

  7. Cele

    I have been the advisor (or one of a team depending on the year) for a high school radio program off and on for years. I feel for you. The kids are great, but this is suppose to be job preparation, only one ever shows up 15 minutes early. And Lord forbid, they should shut up before they think about what they are going to say. On the other hand radio requires little math.

    Ooooh, roses, kewl, way kewl.

  8. chris

    What is it with boys and bottle cap collecting?

    I am constantly finding them in the washing machine. Even though I am a mean mom and shout, “they are garbage, we don’t collect garbage!” every time they try to pick one up from a parking lot somewhere.

  9. jenn

    I didn’t wear my glasses from puberty through college, because I thought the boys wouldn’t like me. I finally woke up in college and realized that was stupid.
    You might want to look into contacts- I work with several children that are wearing them at age 9, due to sports. If you get the disposable ones, at least you don’t have to worry about her losing them quite as much.

  10. Jessie

    Maybe a day without being able to see well will fix the problem if it wasn’t exactly an accident. Either that or she’s having a string of bad luck lately and it will have to turn around soon. Either way I hope it bodes well for her glasses.

  11. EJ

    I dunno…my brother could break a pair of glasses by looking at them the right way when he was a kid (which you might well imagine is kind of problematic.) Some kids are just have a gift. He’s a big time opera singer now, and wears contacts and replaces them all himself.

    I’m intensely interested in the pretty vase of roses too. My marriage is in the process of going up in flames, it would be fun to hear just a smidge about TD&H. You give me hope for…something. I’m not sure what right now, but hope is something in itself.

  12. osteff

    My 9 year old son started wearing glasses just last year. He loves them, but oh how I cannnot stand to see them lopsided on his face.

    This year I had this bright idea that we should TRY contacts so when he plays catcher for his baseball team he can A) See the ball and B) prevent bending his glasses. We got the trial pair of contacts and miraculously he does not want to be a catcher anymore.


    I got sucked into being a carnival booth Soccer Mom so I love to read that you are the Math Mom.

  13. lynn

    Now I have Laurie Berkner’s song “Bottle Caps” stuck in my head. “Collecting bottle caps, bottle caps, bottle caps, bottle caps, every one I see…”
    Her album “Victor Vito” is a fabulous kids album, but the songs are way too catchy.

  14. Aimee

    Roses? Roses! Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome brought you roses. Lalalalalala. :)

  15. The Other Leanne

    I was the goofy-looking seven-year old who always had adhesive tape on her glasses…on the hinge, on the bridge. I was always getting bonked with a kickball (duh, the glasses worked so well I couldn’t see the ball coming?)and we were poor so I only had one pair of glasses; or maybe my mother was trying to teach me a lesson: You’d better learn to duck!

  16. Niihaus

    My boy wears glasses and is constantly bugging me about getting contacts (like I have any intention of letting someone that doesn’t wipe well stick his fingers in his eyes).

    Good luck with the glasses. I sure hope the other kids aren’t bugging her about them. Teach her to say, “Tease me all you want. One day I’ll be your boss!”

  17. hollygee

    I remember putting my glasses in my marble bag on the walk to first grade. The lenses of course were powder by the time I walked the two blocks to school (swinging the bag round and round).

    Do you have a project for the math group? Here is an idea:

    Will you be telling us how you met TD&H? Someone who would send roses seems to know a thing or two.

  18. Amy-GO

    That’s what I got from this whole post. ;)

    Oh, ok, the glasses….tell her if she continues to have “accidents” with her glasses you’ll be happy to strap her down and have the eye doctor AIM A LASER AT HER EYE to correct her vision. That should do the trick.

  19. Nothing But Bonfires

    You should have pulled one of the roses out of the bunch and said “Chickadee, will you accept this rose?” Then you could have turned the conversation around to Cheesy Reality Dating Shows, which wouldn’t have been GREAT, but would have certainly got you off the hook from talking about Roses From Mysterious Strangers.

  20. Deborah

    I’ve worn glasses for 35 years. Usually, I broke them when my brothers and I would fight (the four-eyes, Poindexter & Ms. Peabody taunts having gotten the best of me) Then, later, because I would sleep in them. I hate being without my glasses. I feel exposed.

    Good Luck with the glasses issue (if there is one) and Congrats on the petals.

  21. M00

    easy peasy .. elastoplast is what holds broken glasses together … however.. it is probably a suitable solution for Brits over 50 in Manchester that most other folks.
    Further .. maths would be so much more enjoyable if you stuck to relativistic quantum mechanics using tensors and skip the trig

  22. Jenn2

    wooooooooo…Mir got roses, Mir got roses,la la la la la, Mir got roses.

    a-hem. Sorry. The middle schooler in me is rejoicing that a cute boy has a crush on you.

    The bottle caps? Drama queen did that for a while. There is apparently some mysterious schoolyard game played with the bottlecaps. The fascination does not last. Take heart.

    And generally, the more times DQ swears it was an accident, the more sure I become that it was not. But I’m suspicious like that, which she tells me is “detrimental to her self worth.” Unh.

  23. Contrary

    I used to get in so much trouble for losing/breaking my glasses.

    I remember losing them one time and being frantic about it. While walking home I found a pair that some other kid lost that were close to mine in appearance (but nowhere near in prescription) and I totally slapped em on my face whenever one of my parents was around.

    I wore them until my next eye exam when my prescription had changed (well, no wonder!) and I finally got to get new ones.

    I continued to break/lose glasses until I was an adult and decided that contacts were the way to go. I love my contacts.

  24. daysgoby

    ‘I hate math with a fiery passion’

    Hee, Mir. Stop being so funny while the baby is sleeping, okay? Because there are only so many times I can make snorting gaspy noises and not wake her up…..

    I really, really, really hope that Lasik has been approved for children by the time my kids hit glasses age.

  25. Mary

    Hmmm. This reminds me of my SIL’s habit of “losing” her glasses when she was in grammar school. My MIL just stopped buying her new ones, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the way to go if you want your child to be able to see. (In MIL’s defense, SIL’s eyesight wasn’t that bad so she could get away with no glasses).

    Good luck! This seems like a tricky situation.

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