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.
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?
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.