The *squish* sound of success

By Mir
March 24, 2009

Things haven’t been going so well, over here at the Eyeball Corral.

Oh, it’s true that Chickadee remains a champion contact lens WEARER. I don’t know if lenses are different now or her eyes are just a lot hardier than mine or what, but back in my contact lens days I remember a lot of “AHHHHH! There’s something trapped under the lens! AN EYELASH! THE PAIN!!” and such. She’s headed off to school every day with a lens case and a pair of glasses, just in case, and she hasn’t had a single issue. That part is great.

The part that’s not so great is that she’s now had her contacts for two months and was still showing absolutely zero interest in learning how to put them in for herself. And neither the “You’ll have to take me with you to college” jokes nor my peppy rendition of “L! A! Z! Y! You ain’t go no alibi!” were persuading her to change her ways.

(I considered adding pom-poms to my cheer routine, but that just seemed unnecessarily onerous.)

The original deal was that I would put her lenses in for her on school days—when time is at a premium—but she would be responsible for practicing on the weekends. Chickadee’s solution to this set of rules was simply to wear her glasses all weekend. Which… you know, it’s fine to wear glasses, but then there is no PRACTICING happening, which brings us back to me potentially putting in her lenses for her for forever. Not good.

There was also the small matter of an extended vacation with her father wherein she had AMPLE time to practice her lens-wrangling skills. As her father is a fellow contact lens wearer I figured this would be perfect—she’d not only have the time to work on it, she’d have an experienced assistant. GUESS how many times she wore her lenses during that trip. Go on, guess! Did you say ZERO? Yay! You win a squirt of all-in-one saline solution! [I don’t suppose it matters whether this was laziness or one of those passive-aggressive “I sensed you wanted us to do this, so I immediately did the opposite” sorts of situations (although, honestly, given someone’s continued insistence about wanting opportunities to take on parenting responsibilities, I’m baffled), but the end result was the same maddening lack of progress.]

Combine all of this with a few recent displays of tweendom at its finest (ahem), and this weekend, Otto and I lowered the boom: Chickadee was informed that I was done putting in her lenses for her. Otto calmly explained that she had failed to take the required initiative on her part, and that because she was not expending any effort, there would be no more assistance. She could practice on the weekends, or she could have both lenses in place by a stipulated time on school days (with all other readying activities completed, first), or she could stick to her glasses.

“And you’re not getting your ears pierced until you can handle your lenses, either!” I added, for good measure. Because I am SO MEAN.

She took the edict like a trooper. (A grim, somewhat surly trooper.) She said she understood. She asked what would happen if she had only one lens in by cut-off time on a school morning. We told her she would have to take it out and wear her glasses.

Yesterday she only had one lens in at the designated time. She begged me to help her with the second one and I told her to take out the one and wear her glasses. I felt like an asshole (but an asshole who FOLLOWS THROUGH). She did it without complaint, though, and yesterday afternoon she came home and practiced until she got them both in (though it took a looooong time).

This morning the designated time rolled around and she was still in the bathroom. “Are they both in?” I called, praying that she would answer in the affirmative.

“Sort of,” she called back, tearfully.

I went to check out the situation. One lens was fine. The second one was (excuse me, my father is eyeball-phobic: DAD, LOOK AWAY) in her eye but not affixed over her pupil. Furthermore, it looked to me like one edge was actually sort of folded under. Chickadee was on the verge of tears, and we hadn’t covered protocol for one slightly mangled lens.

“Close your eye,” I told her, drawing her to me so that I could rub her back and calm her down. “Use your fingers to GENTLY move the lens around and see if you can get it situated on your pupil.” She did that for a few seconds and then opened her eye to reveal it was still not centered. “Honey, I think you’re going to have to take them out,” I said.

“NOOOOOOOOO!” she wailed. And I felt for her, I really did. She was (finally) really trying, and this seemed so unfair. “I can get it!” she insisted, and closed her eye again, poking at it with two fingers.

She opened her eye. There was a slight squishing sound, and her expression changed to surprise. “I did it!” she crowed. “It’s on! IT’S ON!”

I checked, and she was right. Somehow the lens had righted itself, and she was ready to go.

We heaped her up with praise, and she left for school positively beaming. And I loved being able to say, “SEE? You CAN do it!”

HOWEVER. I decided this morning that Otto will be responsible for teaching her to drive, and I am never getting into a car she’s driving until she’s fully licensed. I think that’s fair. I mean, given all of these five-years-off-my-life situations, we’re going to have to start picking and choosing or I’ll never be around to meet my grandkids.


  1. JennyM


  2. Megan

    Brave Chickie and brave, BRAVE momma. Now you have to change your CV though so it lists FORMER eyeball wrangler (You can leave cheerleader and Champion Follow-througher on though).

  3. Barbara

    You the Mom, Mir!

    And St. Otto earns another star in his crown.

  4. Ann from Minnesota

    Pheew! Great sigh of relief from Minnesota! I am sure Chickie’s confidence level will go up and it will take less time with each new day. Good for all of you!

  5. Tracy

    There is NO way I could ever wear contacts. I can’t even put in eye-drops without it dripping down my cheeks. Just have never been able to put anything in my eye. Lucky me, I haven’t needed glasses until now. Which reminds me, I need to get my eyes checked. 8’s are starting to look like B’s and vice-versa! Way to go, Chickadee!!!!

  6. Katherine

    I don’t know how to put in soft contacts and I think I’ll let it stay that way. If my glasses-wearer ever wants contacts, he’ll have to learn to do it himself. (I wear gas permeable lenses, different beast).

    I hear you on the driving! If Mr-going-to-be-13-this-week doesn’t shape up, he won’t be driving til he’s out of the house. He doesn’t seem to understand the difference between rights and wants. He thinks *everything* should revolve around him. Several people have told me that teens are just toddlers in a bigger body and I”m inclined to believe them. Unfortunately.

  7. ~annie

    Hallelujah and Amen. It’s really tough when they make us get tough, but totally worth it.

  8. MB

    This brought back memories of when I first started wearing contacts (many many many moons ago) and it would take me AGES to get them in and I would cry and get so frustrated. Yay for Chickadee! A few more times and she will be a pro and wonder why it used to be so hard! I just found your blog btw and love it. You are a gifted writer…so funny!

  9. exile on mom street

    Yay Chickie! And yay to you and Otto on the follow-through. If only our children knew how HARD all that following-through really is on us parents. Gah!

  10. Melissa D

    Question: how was she taught to put them in? one-handed, or with two? the one-handed way, which I think most people are taught now, is incredibly un-helpful and user-unfriendly for a host of reasons: it’s easy to drop them, you can’t open your eye really well, you tend to blink and mess the whole process up, and you’re encouraged to look in the mirror as you do it (meaning you then rely on a mirror).

    If you have two hands doing the work, you can do like this: to put in Right lens, put contact lens in LEFT hand on index finger (your “pointer”). Open both eyelids of right eye with right hand. Apply left hand to eye, gently. Voila!!! You don’t need to look in the mirror to do this — in fact it’s best to have your face parallel to the counter or sink. If you drop the lens, it will fall either into your left hand or onto the counter for easy finding.

    Using two hands is so much easier than using one, and it enables you to easily put them on in non-ideal conditions, like in the dark or under a towel at the beach.

  11. Grace

    She got them in? Yeah! This post made me think WAY back when I first got my contacts. I totally had to practice. [sigh] Glad to hear that Chickadee accomplished the “fix” and I’m sure will be getting more comfortable & confident with the lenses.

  12. MomCat

    Your description of the mangled lens was EUUURRRRGHHHHHIIIIEEEE! I can imagine it all too well!

    Time for lunch!

  13. The Mother

    The contact thing? That’s mine. So far, one out of two success stories.

    The driving thing? DEFINITELY DAD.

    Unfortunately, with his back out, and a 15 year old in Driver’s Ed, it’s looking like I may have to sub.

    This is NOT good.

  14. Sheila

    Well, seeing as I was reading WCS and all, I feared the story would end thusly:

    “She opened her eye. There was a slight squishing sound, and…


    (Hey, it’s happened to me a few times. So glad that wasn’t your ending after all. Yay, Chickadee!)

  15. Katie in MA

    Gosh, I wish I could wear contacts. Perhaps you could cheer my astigmatism and horrific allergies away?

  16. Half Assed Kitchen

    Another fine parenting lesson from Mir. And I mean that. Thanks.

  17. Cheryl

    48 years old-wearing soft ones SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME…still takes me good 15-20 minutes, followed by running of nose, tearing of eyes, and a LOT of cussing. They tend to stay in for months at a time, due to this. Until last week, when I woke up and immediately called the dr at 5 a.m., got to the office at 8 and was told the ENTIRE top layer of skin on the eyeball was gone…just raw nerves. THAT’LL TEACH ME

  18. dad

    Is it safe to look yet.

    Don’t forget to tell her that that’s another thing she can do that I can’t.

    I am not eyeball-phobic. I’m…discerning and sensitive.

  19. Valerie

    Good for you for following through! Others have said it, I’ll repeat it… you’re a good mama!

    My son went through the worst time when he first got contacts. So much that he did go back to wearing glasses for another few years. He opted to try it again several months ago, and the advice I gave him was similar to yours… don’t mess with them when you’re pressed for time. It took a little while and a few tantrums (and he’s 23 years old!) but he got there.

    It wouldn’t hurt to caution Chickadee that even after she’s a champ at putting them in, there will likely be an occasional morning when they just don’t want to cooperate. We’ve learned to take that as a sign and just go with the glasses.

  20. RuthWells

    The thought of eventually teaching the kids to drive gives me NIGHTMARES.

    I’m so glad neither of my little four-eyeses has asked for lenses.

  21. kimmie

    My eyes!!!!! Ohhhhhh—-they hurt and itch and burn after reading this…….

  22. Gaylin

    I am ever so glad I had Laser Surgery . . . Even though I found putting in/taking out contacts easy to do.

  23. Little Bird

    Oh Lord, do I remember the trials and tribulations of contacts! Inside out, folded over, or that weird combo of the two (that one was really annoying). I wear glasses now and have never been happier. I found that buying really cool looking reading glasses and having my prescription put in them is much better. It’s cheaper. And I’m happier with the end result.
    Kudos to both of you, though! Chickadee for getting it done. You for having the strength to see it through without exploding.
    Now just wait ’til she asks for the kind of contacts that make her eyes appear to be a different color!

  24. Hecticmom

    my 10 year old just got contacts too. Maybe two months ago? We’ve been talking to other kids who have recently gotten them. If she still has problems after “awhile” – you might think about getting a different kind. A friend of ours with an 18 year old daughter all the sudden had MAJOR issues putting her contacts in. It was the brand. They changed brands and WHA-LA! No more problems.

    It now takes my daughter about 5-10 mins to put them in. (This morning she got the both in on the THIRD TRY!!!!!) Before it took 20 mins (we have the same rule – get them in by a certain time or wear glasses.) I just get her up early – and I don’t watch (that was a major problem before – I WAS WATCHING HER! SHE COULDN’T DO IT WHEN I’M WATCHING HER!!!!)

    One other consideration – is if she is still having problems to take her back to the eye doctor and have someone else teach her how to put them in. We had a WONDERFUL person teaching – because clearly – I’m just a mom and don’t know anything and can’t help – duh!!!!

  25. Jennifer H

    I think we can all agree that they did not cover this stuff in What To Expect When You’re Expecting.

    Great follow through, and yay for your girl!

  26. Mandi

    When I was learning how to put my contacts in, my mom always was rushing me around. So one morning, I put them in, but one got “lost” in the corner of my eye. I couldn’t find it, and we were late for church, so panicking, I just put another one in. Yep, two in one eye. 20 minutes later, we were leaving church early because my eye was bright red and streaming!! tears out of it. Aww, my poor mother.

  27. StephLove

    Go, Chickadee!

    I’ve never worn contacts. I don’t think I could bring myself to insert them and I’m 41.

  28. carolie

    Hurray for you, Otto and Chickadee!

    As for the driving thing, I’m 43. My mother has ridden in a car with me as the driver ONCE before I moved to Japan. The only reason I got to drive when she visited me here was because she was not licensed to drive my car (nor did she want to drive on the left, etc.) This is NOT because I’m a bad driver (I’m really not!) but because in Mom’s subconscious, when I am driving, suddenly she can only see me as abut 12 years old, with age appropriate reactions.

    The one time she rode with me in the US was because she’d had surgery, and the doctor forbade her from driving for two weeks. That lasted for one (yes, only one) trip to the store with me at the wheel.

    I swear, I’m a competent driver. But I certainly have never let my baby brother drive me anywhere. Yes, I know he’s 39. That’s not the point. Oh, shut up.

  29. Celeste

    Ack!!! Good thing I wasn’t eating anything like… grapes. This post made my eyes water in sympathy. :))

    My 12-yr-old wants contacts SO badly, but I can predict it will be JUST like your experience. So I’m holding her off for now.

  30. eden

    You’re a trooper! My parents informed me that I could get contacts when I had a job and could by them and the supplies on my own. By my senior year in high school I was finally glasses-free. I was also buying my own clothes and gassing up my own car and generally fending for myself. (… and they wonder why I’m too independant to settle down with a husband)

  31. Deva

    Go chickadee! And go mom and Otto!! Your description of the squishy sound made me shudder just a wee bit. My contacts never squished…

  32. Deva

    And I don’t know what I would have done had they squished, LOL!

  33. Caryn Caldwell

    Fantastic! And if you hadn’t followed through, she’d still be having you put them in for her. Though, wow…I can’t imagine having someone else putting in contact lenses for me. My eyes are so sensitive that I can’t even put in my own eyedrops.

  34. Flea

    I feel the exact same way about teaching the kids to drive. No way. Now how.

    Yay for Chickadee! I had to do the same thing with Oatmeal Head – no more help. He’s older, though, so he picked it up pretty quickly. It’s amazing, with mom helping, how whiny and irritating a 14 year old boy can be. But doing it himself? Took him half an hour to figure it out. Ugh.

  35. Amy

    Well I can attest to the fact that nobody in our house wears lenses, but I have taught two teenagers how to drive, and it was the absolute worst experience of my life. Give me natural childbirth any day! I am not certain how I survived, but there was a lot of imaginary brake stomping, real live screaming and hanging on to the door strap. If for any other reason one needs to think about having a third child, that would stop me in my tracks. I just shudder to think of people who need to teach more than 2 teenagers how to drive in a lifetime. It is extremely aging. By the way they both appear to be good drivers. Definitely not certain how that was accomplished.

  36. sheila

    Funny, you know when I was a teen and had contacts, they were a real pain in the ass. In my 20’s I stopped wearing them all together. All that cleaning and blah blah blah. Now my 16 yr old has some that are disposable. Huh. And my first time getting them in? 45 minutes. Hers? 30 seconds.

  37. G.W.A.B.

    Funny, I had a similar reaction when I was pregnant with my daughter: ecstatic and scared %^!$#less!!! But I immediately got over whatever apprehension when I held the little pea pod in my arms for the first time. Now I have days–no moments– where she cuddles up with me and sprinkles me with kisses, and then fifteen minutes, I’m the one to blame for her mismatched socks, her hair sticking up, getting a “C” on her math test etc. etc. etc. And then, with a blink, I’m the best mommy again.
    Did I mention she’s only 8.
    It’s going to be quite a ride, isn’t it?

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest