Teen vision

By Mir
October 5, 2011

We don’t see Chickadee very much, lately. Between band and other activities—not to mention her strong desire to get as far away from her embarrassing parents as possible—I feel like I’m lucky to get five minutes with her in a day.

The bad news is that I kind of miss her, and I despair of her room ever actually getting cleaned up.

The good news is that it’s a lot harder to get into an argument when we barely see each other, plus she seems happier to be around us for these short bursts, too. I’m sure that has nothing to do with the fact that I’m usually either feeding her or doing her laundry, or Otto is driving her somewhere or giving her money. Ahem.

The best part, though, is the random little declarations and interactions we’re treated to these days. Just the same way that babies are cute so that their mothers won’t EAT THEM when they won’t stop crying, teenagers are entertaining so that their parents won’t boot them out and change the locks when they’re being all… teenagery.

Yesterday morning she kept fussing at her left eye while she was racing around getting ready for school. “Is there something wrong with your contact?” I asked her, finally.

“I don’t know,” she said, throwing stuff into her backpack. “I feel like there’s something stuck under my lens. It’s fine.”

“Want to try taking it out and rinsing it before you go?”

“I already did that!” she snapped at me, exasperated. “It’s FINE, I have to go.”

“Do you have saline at school in case you need it?” I called after her. She waved me off and that was that.

About half an hour later I got a text:

Is it bad for me to just wear one contact all day?

Uhhhhh…. I asked what the problem was and she responded:

Turns out the thing under my contact was my contact. Ripped almost in half! It was fine when I put it in.

Folks, my daughter apparently has BIONIC EYEBALLS. Why, a perfectly whole lens went into her eye and then SPONTANEOUSLY RIPPED IN HALF, due to the sheer might of her retinas. I’m so proud.

A bit of back and forth ensued, wherein I promised to drop off another lens for her at school (“The glasses I have in my locker are too small. I think my face grew.”) after a meeting I had. And then I made the mistake of going upstairs to the kids’ bathroom.

See, Chickadee told me the saline in her locker was all used up, so I figured I’d grab another container of that for her, too. And the last time I bought her new contacts, the nice lady at the optical place gave me, literally, an entire grocery sack full of sample-sized saline bottles when I’d asked for just one to use for an upcoming trip. So I knew we had plenty of little bottles, and I just had to grab one.

I opened the cabinet under the sink. There was a box for a travel-size saline sitting right in front, so I grabbed it. Empty. I tossed it aside and grabbed the one behind it. Empty.

A feeling of foreboding came over me.

I tossed the second box aside, and this time reached in and grabbed a travel-size bottle which I assume had fallen out of the box. But—I bet you’ll never guess!—it was empty, too. I tossed that in my growing pile.

I kept digging, and kept finding empties. Why, that cabinet was nearly full, and EVERYTHING IN IT WAS EMPTY.

Who knew bionic eyeballs lead to hoarding?

Finally I’d dug through the entire cabinet and come up, yes, empty, and it finally occurred to me to track down her travel toiletry case from camping, and that (thank goodness) did have ONE travel-size saline container in it that was NOT empty. Success!

I gathered up the saline, a replacement contact, another replacement pair to keep in her locker, and everything I needed for my meeting. I went out and did what I needed to, then swung by the middle school to drop off Chickie’s stuff.

The secretary asked me to fill out a prescription medication authorization form.

“It’s a contact lens,” I said, thinking maybe she was confused.

“I know,” she said. “I’m just covering all our bases.”

“Because… she might get high… off her contact lens?” I asked. “Or I, her mother, might bring her… someone ELSE’s contact lens?”

“If you could just fill out the form, ma’am.” (THEY LOVE ME THERE.)

So I filled out the form and left her stuff and came home. And left the pile of empty boxes and saline bottles in Chickie’s bed.

When she finally got home that night, she walked in the door and asked if I was mad at her. I thought that was a level of other-awareness that we don’t often see from her, so I can’t lie, I was pleased that she realized I might be a little miffed. “I think you should go upstairs and look around to answer that question,” I answered, feeling quite smug that my thanks and a heartfelt apology were about to be delivered.

Chickadee disappeared upstairs, then came back down with her arms full of the empties, gaily calling out, “You’re NOT mad at me! In fact, you are SUPER IMPRESSED with me!” Somehow she managed to balance everything and pull open the door to the garage, then she disappeared, calling back, “You think I’m AWESOME because I saved up ALL THIS RECYCLING and then I brought it down to the bin here WITHOUT YOU EVEN ASKING! YAYYYYY!”

I was too busy banging my head on the desk to point out that I hadn’t asked her to recycle her garbage, but she’d only thought to bring it down once it was preventing her from SLEEPING.

Later, I made the mistake of trying to convince her that it was not possible for her lens to spontaneously rip WHILE ON HER EYEBALL, but she staunchly maintained that it had been PERFECTLY FINE when she put it in, and eventually I had to just give up. We sat down to watch Glee and I filed down the nails on her right hand, though she wouldn’t let me touch the left, saying they never touch her contacts and they were fine.

Currently, her left thumbnail is particularly long. I can only conclude that’s the one she uses to spoon up the ripped lenses and snort them. Please don’t tell the middle school secretary.


  1. Katie in MA

    Ha! Careful, mama, or her laser-eyes death glare will mow you down. :)

  2. Beth R


    I don’t remember having this much trouble with my contacts, but when I first got them (in the stone age of soft contacts), you got one pair for the year and they were a lot thicker than the disposables.

    …At least she didn’t just sweep all of the bottles and boxes onto the floor?

  3. Megan

    Ah teenage logic. It’s a wunnerful thing:

    1. Something happened. Huh.
    2. Oh dang, someone’s ASKING about it – can’t have that
    3. Brilliant thought! I shall come up with a Very Convincing Story
    4. Even though the really truly story actually won’t get me in trouble
    5. Because truth is stupid. Also embarrassing. Also none of my friends do truth
    6. Wait, whaddaya MEAN you don’t believe me? IT’S MY STORY
    7. The extra hormones raging in my brain have converted my Very Convincing Story into Absolute Truth That Really Happened And That I Will Defend to the Death
    8. Mum! It’s okay that you don’t know Truth when you see it, I still love you.

    I’m not entirely sure how mine survived, really. But then it’s even more amazing that I survived so I suppose there’s some sort of mystical Darwinian force at work!

  4. Joy Lewis

    I wore contacts for 21 years, starting at age 12, and I often had problems with them ripping in half (or getting nicks) while wearing them… in my 30s. It really is the new thin lenses–they get these microscopic tears and then they just fall apart mid-wear. Poor Chickie–it’s not her fault!

  5. Varda (SquashedMom)

    OK, I am so not looking forward to the coming years. Mine are now 9. Can I put them into suspended animation in about another year and pick them up when they are 20? No? Damn.

    And? I also used “teenagery” in a post today, and spell-check kept telling me it wasn’t a word. Is too! (We can’t both be wrong, right?)

  6. alihua

    For future reference, it is possible to use only 1 contact for approximately 6 weeks. It’s possible I know this because that’s how long it took me to tell my mother I ripped my contacts AGAIN for fear she wouldn’t replace them and make me wear glasses to school.
    I’d like to state that I was a coke-bottle kid and this was a vaild enough fear to merit half-vision.

  7. burghbaby

    Joy is right. I’ve only ever had contacts rip while in my eye. I think maybe they sometimes get a tiny crinkle and then you blink and then BAM! torn contact.


    Why OH WHY do hoarders insist on keeping empty boxes? It baffles me.

  8. Bobbi Lynn

    Before I had my LASIK done my contacts would, fairly often, rip or get tears in them while I was wearing them. Went in fine, ended up getting that tell-tale itch of a torn contact a bit later. I bet the same thing happened to her! Contacts are so thin these days, they can rip with an eye rub.

  9. bad penguin

    I did once rip my contact with it in my eye (my left eye, coincidentally) by rubbing it the wrong way when my eyes were really dry. So it is actually possible!

  10. Susan

    I’ve worn contacts for over 25 years and ditto: they can totally just rip/tear while innocently sitting in your eye!

  11. Scottsdale Girl

    I agree with Alihua, I wore one contact (-6.0 vision) THAT IS NEGATIVE 6.0. BLind as a BAT for over two months. Was it fun? nope. Did i get headaches? yep. Did I run into wallls/poles/people who had the unfortunate position of being on my left side-al region? YUP

    Poor chickie though, she is like I was (am?) she had responsibilities to school etc and was not going to let an ouchie eye stop her!

  12. pam


  13. JennyA

    I was going to comment to say that I’ve had my eyeballs spontaneously rip contacts apart before. (In fact, from my own personal experience, I’ll vote that it’s possible her eye was irritated in the morning by a tiny chip or tear in the edge of what otherwise appeared to be an intact lens and that a vigorous eye-rub later on did the deed. That’s how it usually happens to me.), but everyone else has already done that. And now, uh, so have I.

    So… um. You’re pretty!

  14. Mir

    Okay okay okaaaaaaaay. I will admit that maybe it DID spontaneously combust on her (bionic) eyeball, based upon the comments here. I guess I should’ve mentioned that these are lenses designed to last for a month and she ripped the same lens (same eye, I mean) after just a week of wear and this one she ripped was also only a week old. I think she’s been snagging them with her nail, somehow.

  15. alicia

    I’m another weirdo, I suppose, because the only time I’ve had contacts rip is when they were on my eye, and not from a result of me touching it. Usually I get a little piece of dirt of something and then when you blink, the little piece of dirt moves up the lens and rips it. I haven’t had it happen in a few years, but have experienced maybe 5 or so times in the 15 years I’ve been wearing contact lenses. :)

    Good for you for making her clean out her stash of empty bottles!

  16. paige

    Be very careful. She might just deliver THE BLINK OF DEATH!

  17. addy

    Ok so bionic eyeballs rip contacts. Got it. Hoarders can’t tell the difference between empty and full. Got it. Teenagers are trying… Don’t eat them though. Their diets aren’t very good usually. Taste would be off.

  18. Otto

    Dear Wife,

    When we wed, it was for better or for worse, through sickness and health. For you, for me, for the children. For US.

    But no one ever said anything about a BLINK OF DEATH.

    The next time this happens, when she can’t see us? Run for the car, we’ll be out of here … in … the blink of a bionic eye.


  19. Angela

    You and Otto are BOTH hilarious. How come the kids don’t wanna just sit around and listen to y’all do stand-up routines all day?? I totally would!

  20. Ann Garniss

    Why am I thinking about Doctor Who?

    Oh yes…. DON’T BLINK!

  21. Heather @Critter Chronicles

    I’ve been wearing contacts for 16 years and have only ever had problems with my left contact, no matter what brand. But I consistently have trouble with the contacts for that eye, and yes, I’ve had them spontaneously rip in my eyeball, too. I’ve also had occasions when a single lens has somehow glued its sides together and no amount of gentle or rough rubbing could get it apart. This happened with a BRAND NEW lens once, right out of the package. Last year. I’m now 31.

    I also occasionally lose my left contact in my eye socket and never find it. This has happened more than once to me, no joke. Don’t go TOO hard on her for the ripped contact but the hoarded pile of used saline bottles? Yeah, that’s beyond even me.

    I wish my husband’s health insurance would cover Lasik for me. (I wish my prescription was strong enough to qualify me for Lasik, but alas! I’m stuck with a light prescription that still requires an endorsement on my driver’s license.)

  22. Debbie H.

    Nope, gotta have that one nail, texting-thumb nail..

  23. Jean

    I have no contact anecdote to provide. I wish to tell you that I LOVED your response to the school office lady when you dropped off the contacts and solution. Frankly, I am surprised that she even accepted them with that meager amount of paperwork.

    In our district you would need a letter from the Doc who prescribed the contacts, a SEALED bottle of solution (mentioned in the note the Doc wrote) and several sworn affadavits or notarized statements that you are the parent of said child and can identify your relation to said Dr. with your cancelled check payments. Or something close to that.

    You got off easy.

  24. bonuela

    CLEARLY it ripped while she was rolling her teenage eyes at how utterly embarrassing her mother is.

  25. Laura

    I wonder if a time will come when you are terrified at the thought of digging through all the boxes and travel bags in her bathroom cabinet…

  26. The Other Leanne

    Okay, I want a “Like” button for some of these comments.
    Also, the whole rummaging through empty boxes reminds me of the time when I was a teen and my mother needed a “feminine product” and I had used them all up without telling her. And I was sent to the store to engage in the most mortifying transactions of my young womanhood.

  27. Megan

    Ann Garniss for the Doctor Who WIN!

    Um, yes, and I’m with The Other Leanne and am jonesing for a ‘like’ button here – and can we have a special one for Otto maybe?

  28. carson

    Is Monkey able to lie? one of the benefits of my daughter’s “theory of mind” of aspergers is that she absolutely can’t lie. She is a very bad liar when she tries, which is not that often.

  29. Heather Cook

    I am not looking forward to teenagery. I think my five year old daughter is showing symptoms already…

  30. jennifer

    I’m still recovering from reading the comments to the God Doritos post, but feel like telling you that you are delightful, and so is your family. I live in the suburbs of Atlanta and might begin walking the streets calling out, “Otto! Otto!” (because that pseudonym is the funnest to say) to see if I can find you. You are lucky the traffic is so bad, I will probably never get out of my cul-de-sac.

  31. Karen

    My FI has similar contacts and his have been known to rip almost daily (and he has the “supposed” monthlies too). I think they just aren’t making them strong enough anymore or something. He finally gave up and just went back to glasses.

  32. elz

    Love it. You are SUPER IMPRESSED with me. Yes, dear child, that’s it. Chickie needs the bionic eyeball to balance out her super-resistant to all known medicines rash. BTW, how are the non-dye meds working?

  33. Jackie

    hahaha Yeah I remember those days. My son plays baseball and when he got contacts my husband and I told him to make up a bag with extra saline and extra contacts just in case something happens. He goes out of town for a couple of games and something happened to one of the contacts and he has to bat in a high school game with only one eye. Sometimes they have to learn the hard way that mom and dad are right sometimes.

    At least you were close enough to take care of her. I have a feeling if it wasn’t for the fact the glasses were to small to wear you would have said suck it up.

    I agree with you on what you said at the beginning about the reason babies are cute and teens are funny. Although, I have to say we were very lucky over all with the one we have.

    Hope all is going well today.

  34. Kathy

    Oh my gosh! I’m reading this in the office where I work … in a MIDDLE SCHOOL OFFICE!!! I was laughing so hard that I had to share the story with our own Patty … the woman who would make you fill out the paperwork here! We both had a good laugh! Of course, your frustration is NOTHING copared to the people who want to take their kid out of school and we have the NERVE to ask for IDENTIFICATION! So funny!!


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