In a family with kids, weekends are less of an end-of-week vacation and more of an opportunity to sneak in a few more chores and errands (and tears). That is why I spent the majority of a crisp, glowing Saturday afternoon under the rejuvenating fluorescent lighting in the eye doctor’s office with both bigger boys. To them, it was an opportunity to get something (like buy something. Something new. They have a problem with material possessions). Number One repeatedly stated that he wanted glasses because they’d look so cool with his long hair and braces (!!) and Number Two kept stressing that although he wanted glasses, he didn’t want those things that go in your eyes. “Contacts?” I asked.
“Yeah, I don’t want anything touching my eyes.” He looked out the window in a Focalin trance. I should have known at that statement and the defeated body language that there may be an issue in the near future, but I waved aside his discomfort and laughed.
“Only bigger kids and adults get contacts! Don’t worry; nothing is going to touch your eye. The eye doctor is the easiest doctor to go to.”
“Am I going to get eye drops?” I could hear the worry and once again, I chuckled.
Haha. Kid stress is hilarious.
“No. Why would you get eye drops? You don’t have pink eye.” Oh, woe is me for my ignorance and failure to predict that what can go wrong, will. Of course he was going to get eye drops – dilation is the only way in which an eye doctor can prescribe glasses for a child with impaired vision. One guess as to how I know that.
Their excitement over the possibility of glasses grew as we neared the mall, as did their eyes as we walked past the indoor bungee jump and it’s corresponding sign – ONLY $7.00 FOR FIVE MINUTES!!! “Mom! Can we do it? I know you’re going to take us after the doctor! That’s a surprise, right? If we’re good we get to go.”
Hmm. Noooo. Never crossed my mind. And wasn’t going to happen. “What is seven times two? Sorry, no. Maybe another day you two can convince Dad to bring you.” Passed the buck.
Let me interject a little something here: I am a big believer in fate and signs, though I don’t usually internalize those signs and allow them to help me make decisions based on logic. Nope. I see them - don’t get me wrong - and I count them as they lead up to whatever climactic outburst is in my future, but I rarely heed their unspoken advise. Case in point:
Sign #1: I went the wrong way on the way to the eye doctor.
Sign #2: As we walked up to the reception desk, the receptionist asked if I received their message about my insurance (no, I didn’t get that message. I may have a problem with phones) – yep, what can go wrong, will. They couldn’t find us in the system and for sure the glasses wouldn’t be covered. Sigh. The exam will, though, she told us, so I breathed a little easier . . . until Number Two had to get the puff of air test.
Sign #3: Unfortunately, he watched his older brother do it and even though Number One laughed, Number Two was whining and wiggling, saying, “Nooo. No. I won’t do it. No.” I saw this coming a mile away. Four tries later, the tech was able to get his first eye. Three more tries and the second eye was done, though not without tears. I, being the no nonsense mom that I am, actually grabbed him by the temples and held his head still, threatening to hold his eyelids open if he wouldn’t stop closing them. I was subconsciously practicing for the feared eye drops.
The eye doctor came in and determined Number One could see at 20/20 or better – saved a bunch of money with that little blessing. Number Two, though, was deemed to see at 20/40 and needed corrective lenses. We figured as much, so not too much of a shock . . . until the doctor brightly announced these words: “Okay, we’re almost done – if your mom agrees, all we have to do now is put a few drops in your eyes so we –“
And the climax: “No. No. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Nooo!” I watched with slight surprise as a fully medicated Number Two actually slid down the chair, hands on his eyes, crying already. “No drops. You said no drops. You liar. You’re a liar!! I hate you!”
“Hey, it’s gotta get done. No chance of getting out of it.” Ms. No Nonsense was in control, I kidded myself.
I knew, based on my experience with Number Two’s fits, that with a little cajoling and perhaps even the dreaded bribe, I could get him to relax enough to just take the eye drops, so I tried offering ice cream. I tried offering candy. I tried begging (please, just let her put them in. They don’t hurt. Please.) and lost all self-respect. The doctor tried begging. I tried holding him down, but being twenty pounds and 7 inches taller than the last time I needed to hold him down really put a damper on my control. He nearly banged his head on the corner of the table, and since I was struggling to keep his hands away from his face so the doctor could squeeze the drops in, he started kicking his feet, missing the doctor’s thigh by millimeters. The whole time he continued to scream, “I hate you! You’re a liar! Liar!”
Finally, I gave up the struggle and a light went on. “He has oppositional defiant disorder,” I lamented, “do we have to do this?” And that’s how I know a child needs to be dilated to obtain a prescription. Every situation is a chance to learn something new. “Is there a m-a-l-e d-o-c here?” As if Number Two was three years old and couldn’t spell. The doctor looked at me, bewildered. “It’s not personal, he just does better with men. He usually just does what they say. They’re gruffer.” I felt like an idiot saying it, but . . . I was at a loss. In hindsight, I should really be reading all those helpful articles I signed up to have e-mailed to me from a great ADHD website.
Enter a male optician, 40ish, blonde, soft-spoken, and smiling. Not exactly what I was looking for. I wanted someone tall, dark and scary looking to sweep in and say, “Okay, we’re doing this. One drop, two and we’re done.” Nope. What I got was a sweet child-like man who did not want to use force (probably the best thing anyway). He tried bribing with candy. He tried bribing with a mini field trip to the lab where he made glasses. Still Number Two had his hands on his eyes, crying and kicking – looking a little ridiculous alone on the chair, fighting just the idea of something. The optician spent nearly fifteen minutes trying to convince this ball of tears and squeals to just take the eye drops, during which time I dithered between feeling crappy about the doctors’ wasted time and feeling crappy for Number Two’s stress.
In the end, I did what any other self-respecting parent would do. I caved. I asked for another appointment so that Dad could bring him and I could take my flaming cheeks and get the h-e-double hockey sticks outta there. Yeah, I passed the buck again. Embarrassment had never felt so deserved as I should have a) realized that special needs require special prep and b) had a plan in place for the tantrum I should have seen coming. But before I could go, the optician came up behind me and whispered conspiratorially, “I even tried to pay for a bungee jump. No dice. Sorry Mom.”
Am I right to be doubly embarrassed that a perfect stranger offered his own money to convince my child to do what his mom says? Was anything I did during this trip right? Am I screwing up my kid? Maybe the answer to the latter is one I don’t want to hear, as just this morning I caught myself reminding (teasing, nagging) him that there are only three more days until he gets the eye drops. And they might hurt this time.