By Mir
January 14, 2009

I took Monkey in for an eye exam yesterday, due to my lightning fast reaction time and the fact that I’ve been worried about his vision for a few months, now. (In my defense, we were also waiting on some changes to our health insurance coverage to kick in, plus the holiday travel kind of screwed up everything in the entire world.) (Yes, everything. That plant of yours that died? Totally the fault of our recent trip. I apologize.)

The optometrist was a kindly older gentleman who couldn’t have been a day over 95. I don’t really know what it is about optometry that makes a man keep working at it until he passes the triple digit mark, but it seems like all of the eye doctors we’ve seen in the last few years have been geriatric. Assumedly this means that it’s such a fulfilling career, they cannot stand to step down and miss out on all of that fast-paced, gripping “Do you prefer 1 or 2? A or B? 3 or 4?” excitement. Or maybe just that they have lousy 401k plans. Who knows.

Anyway, I had a feeling it was not going to go well when the doctor first came out to get him.

We are used to people—particularly older people—assuming that Monkey is a girl, thanks to his shoulder-length hair. We’ve had the “If you don’t want people to assume you’re a girl, you might want to cut your hair” conversation countless times; Monkey is now at a place where he usually shrugs off such confusion and it’s not a big deal.

Except that then, there was yesterday.

The doctor came out of his office. The receptionist handed him a folder while he looked expectantly at me. I was standing in front of the reception desk, at the time.

Receptionist: Here’s the file for your next appointment.
Optometrist: I presume you are my next—
Receptionist: No, not her. Her son.

The receptionist gestured to the line of “waiting area” chairs, where Monkey was the ONLY person waiting. (Chickadee was standing with me.) Monkey was, as usual, head-down in a book.

Optometrist: Her… son.
Receptionist: Yes, her son. Monkey, right?

She looked to me for confirmation, and I nodded, and the optometrist continued looking between Monkey, the receptionist, and me, as if he was trying to figure out if we were playing a joke on him.

Optometrist: Her… SON?
Me: Yes. MY SON. His name is Monkey. Monkey, come here, please.

Monkey hopped up and joined us, tucking his hair behind his ears, as he does, which seemed to confuse the optometrist even more.

Me: Monkey, this is the doctor who’s going to look at your eyes.
Monkey: Hi!
Optometrist: Monkey. Your son.

I was starting to worry about this guy. But I was also annoyed, and so I found myself saying:

Me: YES. He has long hair. I KNOW. And he’s going to be on his best behavior for you. Right, Monkey?
Monkey: Sure!

This seemed to snap the poor doctor out of it, and off they went for Monkey’s exam.

It turns out that Monkey’s vision is fine, and he holds books right up to his face because he’s a goofball, not because he can’t see. That’s excellent news, especially considering that everyone else in this family is blind as a bat. The optometrist also noted that Monkey is “not exactly shy” and “a very nice young man,” so I take it they enjoyed some real quality time together, probably while Monkey yammered non-stop. I think the optometrist learned a very important lesson, yesterday, and that lesson is that sometimes boys have long hair and it doesn’t actually warp their Y chromosomes or make them any less talkative.

While all of that was happening, Chickadee decided that she would really like to try contact lenses, and so the receptionist and I had a discussion about whether or not that’s an appropriate option for a not-quite-11-year-old. In the end (and with the optometrist’s blessing) we made her an appointment to be fitted and get a free trial pair; that way we can see how it goes without committing.

I think she’s a little bit young, but I also know that 1) she’s headed off to middle school next year, and I got my first pair of contacts in middle school and 2) when she actually makes up her mind to do something (hello, overnight vegetarian!) she DOES IT and takes responsibility. So. I’m willing to give it a try.

Of course, about an hour after we got home, a series of questions led to the discovery that Chickadee has misplaced a pair of her pants. Like, as in, POOF, they’ve disappeared, she has no idea where they are. I tried all the standard queries: Are they behind the hamper? Did you maybe leave them in your suitcase? Is it possible you just took them off at school one day and spend the day pantsless? But there was no happy ending to be found. The pants remain among the missing, for now.

“Let me get this straight,” I finally said to her. “You can’t keep track of a pair of PANTS, but you want us to agree to let you stick things on your eyeballs every day?”

“Yes,” she agreed. “That’s DIFFERENT.”

“Right. Because PANTS are much harder to keep track of than TINY TRANSPARENT LENSES.”

“Right!” she said.

Well, I’m glad we cleared THAT up.


  1. mamalang

    My son has a mohawk and is a boyish as boyish can be, and someone referred to him as my daughter the other day. She was older, and I guess senile as well?

    In Chickadee’s defense, I’ve lost clothing in our house…it’s usually in a bag or something like that, from where someone (usually a child) changed somewhere other than our house. Good luck with the contacts!

  2. Janine

    Were her pants a victim of the orange crayon incident before the holidays? Good luck with the contacts, they grow up too fast…

  3. Jess

    Hee! Losing pants. I’ve managed to lose stuff that was just unexplainable. Like the time I lost that CD and it was–gasp–in the CD PLAYER. Doh.

    Incidentally, I was 12 when I got contacts. It worked out just fine. :)

  4. Tonja

    I had my son’s eyes checked, too, because he wouldn’t stop rubbing them while reading. Perfect eyesite, no issues, just a weird reader … boys!

  5. kim

    Maybe it’s living in the south. There seem to be a lot of boys here in Northern CA with hair that is much longer than my two daughters’. I’ve found you have to look at the clothes to determine gender. Even that isn’t always telling. Luckily Monkey is a confident kid.

  6. Laura

    What do the pants look like? We had a mysterious pair of pants show up at our house around Christmas. I thought they were my moms & they accidently ended up in my suitcase after a trip to her house. I showed them to her & she said no. We call them the “other woman’s” pants. They are black & fuzzy. Quite comfortable!

  7. ~annie

    Are you sure Monkey wasn’t wearing Chickadee’s pants at that appointment? It might explain the optometrist’s confusion. As to the contact lenses: Despite the fact that she leaves a trail of destruction wherever she goes and sometimes can’t find her way out of bed, let alone find her stuff, Critter has been great about her contacts. I say, see how the trail pair goes and take it from there.

  8. Megan

    So I guess I’m the only one who took more than a sentence to realize Chickadee hadn’t lost the pants she was actually wearing. Yup, definitely a top brain day today. In my defense one of my Children lost not one but two rather large and noticeable items of clothing off its own little body – two occasions of saying, “um, didn’t you have a shirt on today at one point?” Apparently absentminded nudism is a genuine disorder.

  9. Lori N

    My daughter also does the book-so-close-to-her-face-you’d-think-she-was-blind-thing. Also had her checked. Also has perfect vision.

    Apparently it is something they do just to annoy you.

    I’ll keep an eye out for Chickadee’s pants if you look for my fleece jacket. I lost it somewhere in the house right around my big clean out the kids closets purge. I’m having visions of some very happy (and warm) person finding my favorite jacket at their salvation army store. sigh.

  10. Mom in MN

    An eye exam when I was 10 decided that I needed some sort of corrective lenses. I was a stong-willed child and refused to leave the office with glasses. I was fitted with contacts that day and I never had any problems with them. Getting used to sticking contacts on your eyes vs. mean kids – that was a no-brainer for me!

  11. Amanda from Maine

    You know those jeans knowadays……being all sneaky and stuff…..just walking off…..

    I have to admit….I think my mother had this converstation with me when I was her age….I wanted contacts and she felt I was going to lose or demolish them…..then she got them and promptly lost them on a weekly basis…..


  12. Katie in MA

    It’s a good thing kids are so funny, or we might have to kill them some days.

  13. Shelley

    Maybe Chickadee joined the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants!

  14. Mama Bear

    Hubby lost a pair of pants late last summer. (Yes, Hubby, a grown man, of an age where losing things should be long past.) They were jeans, and just poof, disappeared. We searched and searched. Over Christmas break college son came home to visit, along with a mountain of clothes. Lo and behold, here are the missing jeans in college boys pile. I asked if maybe they were a tad to big, or did he just not notice. He said he noticed, just thought he had lost weight. Yeah, right!

  15. Rachel

    My daughter tried contacts at 10, but couldn’t get the putting them in/taking them out part. I’ve never worn contacts & her dad does, but has no patience, so we weren’t very helpful in teaching how to put them in. My mom helped a few times, but lives 2 hours away so it wasn’t real consistant. Daughter was in gymnastics at the time & we (including her, not just “the parents”) thought contacts would be great during all that tumbling… she gave up & waited until she was just over 11 (birthday Nov 28, new flex year (and $$ to spend on contacts!) Jan. 1), put them in one day & wears them almost every day now (she just turned 12). We’re now looking for new frames, but it’s hard for me to pick a pair I like on her when I’m used to seeing her without glasses.

    My uncle is an optometrist & when I asked him if 10 was too young, he said age doesn’t matter, it’s all about how motivated the person wearing the contacts is… parents can’t want it for their kids, the kid has to be the one that’s motivated to do it.

    Also, my daughter wears the disposable 30 day kind, and she wears the same pair a lot longer than 30 days… (our dr said it’s ok, don’t tell the contact manufacturer) we bought 6 months worth last January & haven’t had to refill yet… just saying don’t let the dr talk you into a year supply unless it’s a H.U.G.E. savings. She’s getting her eyes checked next week so we’ll see if the prescript has changed.

    Sorry for rambling on & on & on & on… this is the end now. = )

  16. kd@abitsquirrelly

    I started wearing contacts when I was twelve. That was well, a long time ago, and I have always had healthy eyes, much to the astonishment of optometrists. Contacts now are so great too. I think its wonderful you are giving her a chance to wear them, plus maybe once she can see without her glasses she will find her pants.


    PS: My son has longish hair too and is constantly being called a girl. Get over it people.

  17. Lylah

    If the Dr. was that old, you’d think he would remember the ’60s, and boys with long hair wouldn’t be that confusing…

    Then again, people always assume my short-haired daughter is a boy. In spite of the earrings, flower-adorned headbands, and practically all-pink wardrobe she prefers to wear most days.

  18. AKD

    My parents made me wait until high school to get contacts so I just stopped wearing my glasses in 7th grade. I say let her give it a try… I know other kids her age who are wearing contacts. Maybe they can give her the disposable kind that you toss out every night.

  19. AKD

    Oh, and I second what Rachel said… if you clean your contacts well, they can last longer than the recommended time. On the other hand, if you are a beginner to contacts, you might not know what “dirty” feels like in your eye.

  20. Sheila

    My daughter had her first eye exam when she was three. She had been closing one eye, pirate-style, to look at things in the distance. (Naturally, she did it the entire time whilst playing I Spy in the optometrist’s waiting room, then dropped the habit completely during the exam.) As she was not yet reading, the exam consisted of identifying symbols such as a house, a square, a circle, etc. projected on the wall across the room. The doctor told her he would show her some pictures and she should tell him what she was seeing. The first picture flashed up. She excitedly exclaimed, “I know what that is!!”

    Then there was a long pause. Finally, one of us said, “Well, what is it?”

    “A house!” she shouted, clearly proud of herself. Next picture, same routine. Photo, followed by an exuberant “I know! I know!”, and another long pause until we prompted her for the answer. Although I reminded her repeatedly throughout the exam that she could just go ahead and tell us what she saw, the routine went on about seventy three times(and took about thirty minutes longer than it should have) until the doctor determined there was no problem with the kid’s eyesight (although I’m sure he had some questions about her I.Q.).

    My theory is that optometrists age more quickly than the average person, especially the ones who treat children. I bet your guy was not any older than 48– he had just seen too many patients like my kid through the years.

  21. Jenn

    Sigh — my 8 year old daughter has chin length hair and if she dresses in anything remotely androgenous (ie: her basketball uniform), people think she’s a BOY. ugh ugh ugh. . . so very annoying.

  22. Scottsdale Girl

    My mother made me wait until I was sixteen to get contacts.

    I was a Junior in High School before I got contacts.


  23. Summer

    Is Monkey’s real name something girlie like Robin or Leslie? Or perhaps it really is Monkey, and the poor doctor was looking around for a Capuchin who’s been flinging his feces off-target lately.

    I was really young when I got contacts for the first time; I’m pretty sure I was ten. The hardest thing to get over was having to touch my own eyeball; you might want to have Chickadee practice tapping her cornea very gently with very clean hands.

    Don’t be afraid to ask for samples of several different brands to try. They can vary widely. Not long ago I tried the “ooh, my eyes are staying so moist” variety, and found that I was allergic to something in them. Ick. The cheapest generics work best for me! I’m sure you also know that once you’ve found a brand she likes, you can get them for far less money online. You are not required to buy them from the doctor.

    And for the record, in 20+ years of wearing contacts, I’ve never lost one, and I’ve had countless pieces of clothing disappear completely, never to return. The weirdest was when I lost a single platform shoe… how do you lose one shoe? Pity, they were really cool shoes, too.

  24. MomCat

    Pants…happy ending…heh!

  25. ImpostorMom

    I was in ninth grade when I got my first pair of contacts. I can remember exactly because that was the summer that I shot up, really grew boobs and lost my 4 inch thick glasses. good times, good times.

    those contacts were horrible due to my blind-as-a-bat status. Back then they didn’t make soft contacts strong enough for my eyes so I had gas permeable ones (which I don’t even think they make anymore). They are someone between soft and hard and they were awful and expensive. I once swallowed one. Yup, swallowed it. How else was I sposta hold on to it while riding my bike?

    Glad Monkey got a clean bill of eye health. I feel sorry for my poor son. With his genes he’s destined to be the pale, blind, itchy kid. Poor thing, might as well have come out with a pocket protector.

  26. Laurie

    Ha! I’ve lost a few pairs of pants in my day – but I was a bit older! Ha! Couldn’t resist! You all have been traveling, did they stay on vacation or with Dad?

  27. bob

    I doubt the optometrist (ophthalmologist?) learned any lessen – especially if he’s 95 and from around here. I’m sure he went home and gave his wife a lecture about the youth of today and how the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

    “In my day…..”

  28. Anna

    Hmm, I hadn’t thought of contacts as a grown-up thing. I guess they would be, typically. I don’t have any glasses-clad kids, but I do have cousins that have worn contacts since birth.
    I hope she does well with them!

  29. Laura

    I got contacts at 12, and never lost one. (Lost just about everything else, though, and still do.)

    I highly recommend disposables, because you don’t have to do the whole enzymatic cleaning thing. Just make sure she also has a pair of decent glasses, for when contacts aren’t convenient. (long flights with dry air, illness, etc.)

  30. dcfullest

    Perhaps her pants are hanging out with my new sweater that I spent 15 minutes looking for this morning. Never found it.

  31. kat

    My baby sister started wearing contacts at the age of nine with no issues.
    Ironically, she did lose her skirt at a concert when she was twenty, but the contacts are fine.
    (She was still mostly respectable without the skirt.)

  32. Ani

    On an unrelated note, could you please re-post the website where you got the fab cheap glasses? I got some for my kiddo but it’s that time of year again, and our new vision insurance is pitifully laughable. Thanks!

  33. Meg

    Her missing pants are clearly at her dad’s house, and they will be unearthed only when she has outgrown them. (you could speed up the recovery time by replacing them, another trick to make lost things return)

  34. Wendy 2

    We purchased contacts for my daughter about 9 months ago, shortly before her 11th birthday. After one too many trips back to the eye doctor to have her glasses fixed after she got hit in the eye with a basketball. She had some trouble putting them in, and tearing them. Tell Chickadee to watch long nails, they will rip contacts very easily. Once she figured that out, she loves them. Plus she has never lost one, and actually carries her contact case and solution and glasses with her wherever she goes in case she is having trouble with them and needs to put her glasses on. This has only happened a handful of times.

  35. Wendy 2

    Oops, that should read “shortly before her 12th birthday” not 11th.

  36. EmJay

    My 5 year old boy has longish hair, prefers to wear pink t-shirts everyday of his life and has Nikes that are grey with pink swoosh. He is always referred to as a girl. We even had a doctor’s appointment where I had to tell the nurse who had just spent 5 minutes with his medical chart writing down his vital stats that he was a boy. The nurse’s response “I wondered why his chart was blue.” It has been eye opening to see how quickly people make gender assignments and how stubborn they can be when you try to correct them. I’ve stopped tryin unless it really matters like school, church or the doctor’s office. I have determined that all it takes is the slightest hint of pink and hair that is not cut with a razor and you are a girl. On the other hand, my two year old daughter with curly red hair that falls just below her ears was called a boy because she had jeans and a gray t-shirt on (ie no pink in sight)

  37. All Adither

    I’m always leaving my pants here and there. I can relate.

  38. jess

    Why did you kill my poinsettia? *sniffs* I shall miss it.

    I hope the contact trial goes well. I’ve never been able to suffer them myself (my eyes are shaped weird and don’t take to them, unfortunately). I would definitely be worried about someone who can apparently lose her pants without any knowledge of where they would be. Maybe you shouldn’t let her grow up anymore? ;)


  39. jennielynn

    I was almost twelve when I got my first pair of contacts and as irresponsible as they come. When my teachers told my parents I was gifted, my dad actually laughed. I did fine with the lenses, mostly because my mom drilled it into me that I MUST take care of them or DIE.

  40. Swistle

    I have a “one stupid remark per person” tolerance level. Like, if someone asks me if my 3-year-old and my 1-year-old are twins, I just let it pass. But if they ARGUE with me about their stupid remark, what I want is TO TAKE IT OUTSIDE. I mean, seriously. How much of a misunderstanding can there be? Might I have FORGOTTEN that I had a set of twins two years apart in age? Might you have FORGOTTEN that your child is a girl? No. So even if someone makes a totally understandable stupid remark (my 3-year-old and 1-year-old boys really do look an awful lot alike, and are not too far apart in size), they should then TAKE IT IN STRIDE when they turn out to be wrong, and they should MOVE ON. Rather than standing there GAWPING and PROTESTING as if they need to SOLVE the MYSTERY.

  41. k

    yeah. 100% never watching my dog.

  42. M

    I lost all kinds of stuff over the holidays. Too much traveling. Fortunately it all seems to have eventually turned up… Kids’ jackets? Closet at Grandma’s. (Really, who actually hangs things up??) Cell phone? Pocket of my dress coat. (Discovered day after finally replacing…) And so forth…

  43. just beaux

    I actually lived with the nickname of Snake for 10 years while growing up. That was kind of fun and wierd at the same time. Good post!

  44. Kimmers

    I remember my first contact lens fitting. The eye doctor wouldn’t let me leave until I could put the lenses in and take them out by myself. I was EXTREMELY squeamish about touching my eyes, but I was also Not. Leaving. Without. Contacts.

    An hour and a half into the attempt, my doctor grabbed the lens from me and plopped it into my eye myself.

    Things went a lot smoother after that.

  45. mama speak

    Sadly, I have lost articles of clothing on more than one occasion in our house.

    In fact, I just found several pairs of pants, because my husband can’t tell the difference between the clothes worn by my 2YO, 5YO and myself (I’m 40 and quite a bit larger than both girls). Now while I’ll admit our girls are on the tall side, I’m 5’7′, so I would not be getting confused for being anywhere close their ages, nor would my clothing. I’ve lost a few pounds recently, but I’m still well outside of the childrens department. But my husband still seems to have issue with this subject. While it does drive me nuts, I am not one to discourage random attempts at chores (especially by him, seeing as he was raised w/out having any and I’m making up for lost time here). So if he’s around when items are found I will comment about who said clothes belong to, otherwise I let it go.

    Contacts are pretty much in your eyes or in the case, not much chance of losing them. Especially if my husband won’t be putting them away for you.

  46. mama speak

    On the pants losing: that might be a much different conversation in a few years. I’m just saying….*and now I’m ducking from the shoe that is being thrown across the US at me.*

  47. sheila

    Yeah, I hate those tests because I can never remember what the first one looked like. lol. If I have trouble, I can imagine what the kids go through.

  48. Ann

    I can so totally relate to the missing pants debacle. I am wearing a new suit this morning, and I know I have a new pair of brown pumps that I have never worn somewhere in my house. Do you think I could find them this morning? Hell no! And don’t give me the lecture about looking for them last night and being prepared and all that…

  49. Marci

    My 13-yr old stepson got glasses/contacts during baseball season last year and I was not that thrilled because of he was, well, not that great at keeping up with his stuff.

    He’s been surprisingly good about them. He
    Here’s some advice…go with the daily disposables. They are seem to be more expensive at first but you don’t have to buy any of the cleaning fluids, which offsets the cost some. Plus, I bought them online, not through the optomitrist and got a good price. (My sister is an optomitrist and she couldn’t beat the online price!)

    Another benefit – you know that they’re always putting sterile lenses in their precious eyes. And if they destroy or lose one, there’s an immediate backup available.

    Good luck!

  50. Ani

    Contacts + middle school = great idea

    And it’s amazing how we are attached to those things which allow us to actually SEE our friend across the classroom mouthing words at us. I have yet to lose a contact in 20+ years. Pants? Lunchboxes? Papers? Pagers (issued by workplace, no less)? Whole other story.

  51. StephLove

    My daughter, more bundled up that usual because of a cold snap here, got taken for a boy twice on the way to school today. Must have been the blue sneakers, denim overalls, blue sweatshirt collar peeking out of her coat collar and blue hat under her hood. Luckily, she’s two and doesn’t seem to notice or mind. She dresses boyishly more often than not but we rely on her past the shoulders hair and barrettes for gender identification most of the time.

    I’m glad Monkey is so laid back about it. It will serve him well later in life.

  52. StephLove

    Oh, can’t forget the blue mittens.

  53. tj

    Pff, pants arn’t as important in middle school as contact lenses. Girls are great :)

  54. Flea

    Mir! No more trips for you! I like my houseplants!

    I’m tellin’ ya, you should move to Tulsa. Our optometrist is a real hottie. And he’s only 41. Lookit:
    He’s the Dr. Williams. :D

  55. Kailani

    Dang….I think I’M moving to Tulsa! And I have great vision.
    ‘Scuse me, I gotta go stick a fork in my eye.

  56. Daisy

    My daughter got contacts at age 12, on her way into middle school, because she had broken her glass twice during basketball season the previous year. At the word “basketball” the doc nodded yes, yes, contacts would be a very good idea!

  57. Dawn

    Dude. I loved that plant. It was a Christmas present and everything.

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