Just after her fourth birthday, we discovered Puppy was virtually blind in one eye. We hauled her in to a specialist where she was diagnosed with amblyopia. Basically, her eyeballs are shaped dramatically differently, so right after birth, her brain shut off the connection to one of her eyes. In an effort to turn the connection back on, she had to wear a patch over her good eye ten hours a day for eleven months. The good news was that this worked, and her “bad” eye now has nearly perfect corrected vision. The bad news is that “corrected vision” means she has to wear glasses every waking moment of every day for the rest of her life (so her brain doesn’t shut her eye back off).
Obviously this wasn’t news we were happy to hear, but my husband and I knew that our reaction would frame how Puppy viewed having to wear glasses. So we made the whole thing very exciting. We took her to the eye glasses store, let her try on as many pairs as she wanted, and encouraged her to pick out a very cool, funky pair.
Our plan worked. Puppy received and continues to receive regular compliments about her glasses, and when I told her about contacts recently, she couldn’t imagine why in the world anybody would not want to wear glasses.
Unfortunately, our plan worked a little too well. A few weeks ago Kitten told me that she was seeing white dots in her eyes. With a knot in my stomach, I hauled her to the eye doctor. It wasn’t until she announced at the eye exam that she hoped she’d need glasses like her sister and best friend Otter that I realized the whole thing was likely just a ploy to get glasses (which proved to be the case when she was given a perfect bill of eye health).
Then yesterday, Otter’s big brother got glasses. When I told the girls at the breakfast table this morning, Puppy jumped up and started dancing. “Yeay!” she yelled. “Now Squirrel, Otter and me all get to wear glasses!”
I looked over at Kitten, who was sitting quietly in her chair. Her head was down, and her little chin was quivering.
“Are you okay, Kitten?” I asked.
She looked up at me, a single tear dripping down her cheek. “It’s not fair,” she said. “How come everybody in the entire world except me gets to wear glasses?”
On the outside, I played the sympathetic mother, but on the inside I was howling. How many parents have to deal with a child who is devastated that they don’t “get” to wear glasses?
So this afternoon, you’ll find me in the sunglasses section at Target, where I’ll be buying a pair of kiddie sunglasses so I can pop the frame out and give Kitten a pair of glasses of her very own.