Tag Archives: Glasses

Vision therapy: further update

Dash has a vision therapy assessment this afternoon. I haven’t been talking about vision therapy much because I want to do a big reveal when it finishes up, but I’m tired of waiting, and frankly I’m excited about the way things are going.

At the start of the summer, Dash was seven and a bit and fresh out of first grade. He was reading a little above grade level, but it was a struggle and far more halting and laborious than it should have been. He was comfortably reading books like this:

Book with one or two sentences per page.

More tellingly, he never spontaneously read a road sign or a store name. He resisted reading anything we asked him to, though he faithfully did his 20 minutes of homework reading every night, eventually, when all other options had been exhausted. He would blink and say the words had gone blurry after a sentence or so, but he’d persevere. It was painful to listen to.

He began vision therapy in June – two half-hour sessions a week, with a few minutes of “homework” to do every morning and evening in between. It’s hard to explain what the therapy consists of – reading and pointing and following arrows and picking out highlighted text and finding letters in order and learning how to focus and unfocus his eyes as if he were doing one of those magic-eye pictures that I can never do. Games and puzzles and things on a computer.

We had a preliminary assessment after six weeks or so, and to be honest at that point I was still ambivalent about how things were going. I couldn’t see any change, really, in his homework reading. I felt at that point that the worst outcome would be if his reading improved a little, but nothing really changed much, and if we’d never know whether he’d just caught up late as he was going to do all along or if the therapy helped.

Less than a week later, something changed. He started reading the next level up and stormed through a level-three Ninjago book in a few nights. Words didn’t go blurry any more. He was reading paragraphs.

Now he’s reading text that looks like this:

Book with many lines of text on each page.

He’s on his third Magic Treehouse book. He’s still reading aloud, and only for his 20-minute mandated time, but if you’d told me when we started this that we’d have reached this point as soon as October, I’d have said all my hopes had come to fruition.

Today he was off school. We were talking about his reading and he said “…and when I’m finished all the Magic Treehouse books, I can read higher-level books and when I’m finished all of those I can start reading about real things.”

“You don’t have to wait till you’ve finished all the fiction in the library to read about facts, you know. We have a history book at home.”

So he did this:

Boy reading history book

He read two pages about World War II, asking me what things like N-a-z-i and C-z-e-c-h-o-s-l-…  and D-u-n-k-i-r-k spelled, and taking in every word even though his supporting background knowledge and geography are pretty hazy because it’s quite an advanced level book of world history.

His handwriting has improved to the point where he’s writing essays entitled “Why my writing is so neat.” He brought home a report card full of straight A’s last week. (This is his first letter-grade report card, so I can’t really compare it to previous ones, and I really don’t care and don’t want to put any pressure on him to stay a straight-A student, but that’s a different blogpost.) Last week at a birthday party he willingly read out the list of scavenger hunt items, even though they were in an unfamiliar cursive font.

At Wednesday’s session I got talking to another mother. Most of the kids I see at vision therapy are Dash’s age or a little older, but this woman’s son is in tenth grade, which makes him 15 or so. His deep voice sounds out of place beside my son’s piercing trill as they both do their separate exercises with their therapists, around the corner from where I sit and wait.

This mother said they’d spent thousands and tried everything trying to figure out what was going on with her son’s reading. He’d bring home A’s and B’s but his homework was taking seven hours a night. He’d had an IEP (individualized education plan; for children who need extra help while in mainstream schooling due to something like high-functioning autism or ADHD, maybe). Nothing had helped until they discovered vision therapy. She looked at me with hopeful weary eyes and told me we were blessed for finding this now, when Dash is seven, for saving ourselves all those years of struggle. I don’t doubt it.

Vision therapy isn’t over yet, and today’s assessment is to get a better idea of how he’s doing and how much more he needs. But I am happy to report that things are looking good. No pun intended.

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To read more about Dash’s journey with vision therapy, see here or type “vision therapy” into my Search field. If you wonder whether vision therapy would benefit your child, read this very informative page and take a look at the checklist linked at the bottom. We found a qualified developmental optometrist in our area using this search. Feel free to e-mail me if you’ve any specific questions, though obviously I’m far from an expert.

Further uninformed thoughts on Dash’s vision

 Continuing the story from here, if you missed it before.

I always thought so long as you were reading you’d be okay. (You being anyone, in elementary school, to make any sort of decent progress.) It never ocurred to me that reading itself might be a hurdle. We had books in the house, we read stories every night, we visited the library; I was pretty confident that some time between four and seven, the reading would just happen.

I have no memory of learning to read, I just remember shouting out all the road signs from the back seat and reading the cereal box from an early age. So all this faltering and halting progress was new to me; but he’s a boy, I thought, and he’s not me, I thought, and he’s his own person and clearly more interested in running and jumping and taking things apart and thinking about how things work and what stuff they’re made of than I ever was. I still think that.

Dyslexia is a recognised thing. (I don’t think he has dyslexia.) But how many other similar, lesser, learning/vision difficulties are there, and when does it become just searching for new ways to say “Well, he’s a slow learner;” or is there really no such thing as a slow learner, just children with undiagnosed vision problems? Conversely, are we just trying to put names and explanations (and excuses, maybe) on things that don’t really call for it?

Will it all turn out fine in the end? Probably. But this is one of those in-between points where you can’t tell whether it’s a vital decision that you’re about to make or if it really won’t make any difference. Short-term, long-term: I know he’ll be fine in the end, but I’d really like something that makes second-grade homework less of a pain for all of us than kindergarten and first-grade homework was, especially as I know the stakes are higher and the expectations greater next year.

And then I think “For heaven’s sake, it’s second grade. I don’t remember learning anything in second class.” On the other hand, I could read pretty well by then. On the other other hand, that was in another country, and besides, those days are dead and gone (and with O’Leary in the grave). And then sometimes I think that maybe everyone here and now is far too focused on getting your kids into “a good school” (that means university) and the notion that you can’t get a decent job without at least a graduate degree; then again, people are also agreeing that degrees are devalued when everyone has one, and there’s a glut of PhDs out there with no jobs to go into, and that if he becomes an electrician he’ll never be stuck for work…

It’s all hypothetical until I know what we’re talking about, which we will find out on Friday at our meeting. Assuming that we trust the professionals, that we feel like they speak the truth and that their methods are good, then we will listen to what they have to say and make decisions about what, if anything, we should do to help Dash with his reading. I am eager to find out.

Extra-vision

Boy and girl reading

 
You may remember that Dash got glasses late last year. I hoped that that would do the trick, and his reading would take off like a rocket, the way his teacher assured me that with his large vocabulary and interest in learning, it was bound to.

But it didn’t. We sort of ignored it, and his reading did improve. He ended first grade reading at a mid-second grade level, which should be perfectly good enough for anyone. And yet. It didn’t help that I kept hearing tales of his peers who were suddenly leaps and bounds ahead of their supposed reading level – I mean, a certain number of people have to be average (because we don’t live in Lake Wobegone), and I’m not demanding that everyone has to admit that my baby is brilliant… but.

I still had the feeling there was more to it. The tipping point came last week when a comic arrived in the mail – a late birthday present that’s a bit more advanced in reading requirement than the sender realised, I think, but Dash was eager to get stuck in. Listening to him laboriously sound out the contents of each speech bubble was painful. Thinking harder about it, the all-caps style of comic writing probably makes it harder to recognise words than the ups and downs of regular mixed case; but surely he should be further ahead than that by now, I thought. Something just hasn’t clicked for him the way it should have.

I asked some helpful people online, and some helpful people online gave me just what I needed: the vocabulary to Google the right resources. What I needed to look for was not just a regular optometrist, or ophthalmologist, but a behavioral or pediatric or developmental optometrist/ophthalmologist. These are doctors trained not just to assess how well people’s eyes work, but also how well the eyes are working together and sending messages to the brain, and how the brain is interpreting those messages.

In short order, I had found this website and this directory, and was feeling a lot more proactive about the whole thing.

A lot of what that Vision and Reading page said had me nodding and aha-ing. I got Dash to look at the examples of blurred text and he spotted the one that looks the way his blurry words look. (They’re only blurry sometimes, but I don’t think that’s the full extent of his issue.) The clincher was the checklist: I came up with a score of 29. They say anything over 20 warrants further investigation.

The next morning I called our pediatrician’s office and our local optometrist to see if they had any recommendations, but in the end I used the COVD directory and found an office not too far away that sounded from their website as if they were just what we needed. They had an appointment for an initial eye test on Tuesday, so along we went.

Tuesday’s was mostly a regular eye test with a few different elements and a chat with the doctor about why we were there. But what we said, and my answers on their slightly different checklist, were enough for them to bring us back in today for a two-hour long evaluation that covered how Dash reads, how he sees and interprets and remembers shapes, how he writes and spells, how his eyes track lines of text, and probably many other factors I didn’t even know were being assessed.

The paperwork included a question sheet to be filled in by the child’s teacher, but with only two days’ lead time (we’d filled the spot of a cancellation) I didn’t manage to get hold of Dash’s teacher before the appointment. However, she called me back later and said that her own children had benefitted from vision therapy, that she’d been surprised when Dash did not test into TAG (the more advanced stream) based on her observations of him, and that she had wondered why his reading hadn’t improved even more than it did this year. (You know, I do feel she should have said something about that to me without this prompting.) So we’ll add her input to the pile too.

We wait two weeks for all the information to be put together, and then we go in for a conference to see what’s up. It’s likely not to be something that’s a quick fix with new glasses; it might be something that calls for vision therapy. I don’t know if there’s a middle path between those two. Worst/best-case scenario, I suppose, we just paid out of pocket to be told that our son is a perfectly average slowish reader. I would be okay with that. Honest. I don’t want him to be a supergenius hampered by dyslexia. (It’s probably not dyslexia. But the problems we’re talking about are in that sort of family.)

I will keep you posted.

Magical optical

Dash had a four-day weekend because of the teacher training day on Friday and then Martin Luther King Day and the presidential inauguration on Monday. On Saturday, I asked him where his glasses were. Like this:

– Dash, it’s time to do some reading. Where are your glasses? I remember you didn’t wear them reading last night.
– Where did you leave them, Mummy?
– Where did I leave them? I didn’t have them. Aren’t they in your backpack?
– No, you put them somewhere.
– No. No, I didn’t. Are they at school?
– No, I brought them home.
… etc.

Dash was sure they were in the house, and I was sure they weren’t. We’d brought them safely across an ocean and back, not to mention running the daily gauntlet of leaving them in the kitchen of a house containing three teenagers, but apparently now they’d disappeared. (They come with a great warranty. It says that if you break the frame or the lenses, you get the first new ones free and subsequent ones for just $25. But if you lose them entirely, you just have to go and buy new glasses.) I also realised we hadn’t put his name on them or even on the case.

I decided to assume that the glasses were in school, hopefully sitting on his desk or somewhere else in his classroom, even though he assured me that they’d come home with him on Thursday evening and I had put them somewhere mysterious.

Yesterday when he came out of school the first thing I asked him was if he’d found his glasses.

– Yes! Somehow – poof! – they were in my desk, even though they’d been at home and I didn’t bring them back into school with me.

As if by magic! Wonderful. I particularly liked the poof! part.

We have the follow-up at the optician’s tomorrow. His father and I are not convinced that the glasses make a whit of difference, other than perhaps as a rather expensive placebo that enticed Dash to do his homework more eagerly for the first week of having them. Maybe the eye doctor will be able to magically tell something when he peers into Dash’s eyes and whirr-clicks the lenses into the machine and asks him to read the lines of letters.

Or maybe his reading is just improving slowly the old-fashioned way, with practice.

Unfuzzy

I dropped Mabel with a friend on Tuesday, picked Dash up from school, and high-tailed it down the road to the eye-doctor’s, where the nice man flicked lenses and spun letter charts expertly in front of Dash’s eyes, while Dash described at length how it was when he tried to look at something but he coudn’t see it properly and how it happens with the visualizer too and do you who invented this machine because it’s really cool and I invent machines too I can make a phone, you know?

Clearly (hah) something was amiss with what he was seeing, but I couldn’t really tell what it was from my vantage point on the chair in the corner. I could see the letters Dash was trying to read – they were pretty small, but not tiny. He’d read the first one and then hesitate. The doctor would swipe it away and put up a different one, click a new lens into place in the machine, cover one eye and reveal the other, asking quick decisive questions and letting Dash’s unceasing monologue fall over him like gentle snow.

The verdict gave me a certain sense of vindication: he needs glasses! But not because he’s long-sighted or short-sighted. No, I like to think that in fact, my boy’s eyesight is an overachiever. His eyes are overcompensating when they focus together, and in consequence, things he tries to look at appear blurred. (Please forgive my layperson’s understanding of it. I think that’s the gist of what he said; I don’t think there was any technical term mentioned.)

So Dash will have glasses to wear for the classroom and for reading, or any close-up work. In six weeks we’ll go back and the doctor will be able to tell if they’re helping. So they might prove merely corrective, or a more long-term thing – we don’t know at this point.

And then we went back outside into the store and chose some groovy blue frames with arms that flex 180 degrees and Dash got marginally pleaseder about the notion of having glasses, so that by the time he found out that he’d get not only a free case to hold them in but also a free wiping cloth thingy he was pretty much very excited. He listened intently to the fact that they would take 5 to 7 days to arrive, and every day since he has been telling me how soon they will be here and asking if they might be here sooner than that.

I’m sort of delighted, I have to admit. I know the proof of the pudding will be in the reading; but I can’t help assuming that if whenever you tried hard to look at something and read it, it went all fuzzy, you wouldn’t really be able to imagine ever doing that for very long, and certainly not for fun. I think it answers a lot of my questions about why reading takes Dash so long, why he doesn’t seem to recognise the same word when he sees it again in the next line, why he’s great at spelling but hates writing, why he won’t do his damn homework. (Okay, maybe not that last one. But let me dream, for now.)

Maybe it won’t change anything, or anything much, but I’m really looking forward to finding out. Watch this space.

Bare brick and polished wood

Mabel was wide awake for THREE AND A HALF HOURS last night, alternately wailing “I caaaan’t get to sleeeeeeeeep withouuuuuut boooooobboooooo” and “Reeeeeead meeeee a boooooooook”, and I had the theme tune to Go, Diego, Go stuck in my head; and I was all set to rant about it at length but then it ocurred to me that just maybe it was something to do with the booster vaccinations she got yesterday, and lo, apparently a possible side effect of the Varicella vaccine is insomnia, so I’m going with that because otherwise she’s been sleeping unprecedentedly well and I didn’t even want to talk about that for fear of breaking the streak, so we’ll just move on now…

I just made Dash an appointment for an eye exam, because I noticed that he’s holding the book very close to his face when he reads, and on questioning he said that he finds it hard to make out what’s on the visualizer in school (I think this is the projector thingy that saves the teacher actually writing on the board). Genetically, glasses are highly likely if not inevitable, though I hoped the kids would manage not to need them for a few more years yet. However, it would be lovely if something as simple and fixable as that suddenly turned reading and writing from a chore to a pleasure for him, and I am now fantasizing that being able to see clearly would also make him so happy that The Rage would be a thing of the past and homework would be a breeze.

Just let me dream, okay? If he needs glasses, he’ll get glasses, that’s all. (Not like the last time.)

****************

Meanwhile, what I was going to say…

Yesterday we had ocassion to go to the local high school, because they were offering free flu-mist vaccinations (the sort they squirt up your nose instead of an injection), and both the children needed them. I’d never been on the premises before, though I drove past it multiple times a day before we moved up the road to this house. In fact, I’ve never been in any American high school before.

I know high schools tend to be big, and this is a particularly big one, but I was still surprised by the memories that were kindled when we walked through the doors: not thoughts of my secondary school (grades 7 to 12), but instead a strong sense of the Arts Building in my alma mater, UCD. (That’s University College Dublin, not the University of California at Davis or the University of Colorado, Denver.) Partly it was the size, but mostly it was the architecture: the late-1960s style and exposed brick made me feel that if I opened a door I’d be faced with not a classroom but a vertiginously terraced lecture theatre.

I loved the UCD Arts Block. (That’s Liberal Arts, if you’re American.) It was my place in the world from October 1991 till May 1995, when I left partly because I feared if I didn’t go then I never would. I might have stayed, and done a master’s in Spanish Linguistics, or English Lit, and ended up… well, an unemployed MA instead of an unemployed BA, I suppose. In the Arts Block, I could roam the halls with impunity and claim a sun-drenched low, wide windowsill to read in, or snooze in, or, if lucky and with boyfriend, canoodle in. From the overpriced Finnegan’s Break (oh, har har) cafe to the orange lockers in the LGs, past Dramsoc at the bottom of the stairs and sashaying to the strains of the jukebox from The Trap, where those majoring in pool hung out, to giant Theatre L for my English lectures or an L&H debate on a Friday night, and upstairs again to the Modern Languages corridor where the secretary of the Spanish Department was never around if you needed her, I was on home ground.

There was a wooden set of sculptures in the middle of the building that people could sit on, or around, or arrange to meet up at. The first time I saw them they struck a particular chord, somewhere deep in my memory, and the informative plaque confirmed it: the piece is called Pangur Bán, by Imogen Stuart, and it was first displayed in Dun Laoghaire Shopping Centre in 1976.

When I was three and four years old, I had regularly climbed that very sculpture, peered through its low-down spaces, found the tiny mouse hiding in a corner, delighted in stroking its smooth, cool, dark wood and laying my cheek against it – and here it was in a new location, stirring my sense memories a decade and a half later. It felt like a special, personal discovery, linking me to this new place before I’d even arrived. (Me and every other student from South County Dublin, maybe. But I don’t know if they all remembered it the way I did.)

I felt like a very obvious interloper if I ever ventured into the Engineering Building, I’d only been in Ag once, and Science – despite the fact that my father had helped design it, the ugliest building on campus (it was the 60s; they couldn’t help it) – was just about somewhere I was allowed be once I was dating one of its number, but the Arts (and Commerce, I suppose, grudgingly) Block was mine.

I didn’t realise how right I felt there until I was about to leave. Just standing between the double set of doors at the main entrance by the “Information” desk (I use the term lightly), I knew that I couldn’t hold on to it – I had to move on and make room for the students coming after me. I had no grand plans for the future; I didn’t really know yet what I’d be doing in September, but it was time to go. Closing a chapter, wondering where the next one would open.

The week that was

So in spite of the fact that last week I had two children in school every day, any frittering away of time on my own I might have done was purely symbolic.

  • Monday was Labor Day, of course, so that didn’t count.
  • On Tuesday, Dash went to school and so did Mabel, but then I spent most of the morning sorting out paperwork in the nursery school’s office, as part of my board committment this year. (Last year I was in charge of housekeeping, which as you can imagine was not really my forte, but gave me a foot in the door. This year I have sidestepped into “Membership”, which means I get to do filing and pester people about submitting their forms in a timely fashion. Next year I aim to rise to the exalted heights of Secretary, when I will be allowed to take minutes.)
  • On Wednesday, I was co-oping in Mabel’s classroom.
  • On Thursday, I had to do some more paperwork.
  • On Friday, I finished up the paperwork by double-checking exactly who was still delinquent with which forms and signatures, and ran away to the optician’s to get the nose-pads replaced on my glasses.

Yes, it was just that exciting.

I also dropped into Old Navy while waiting for the optician’s to open and picked up a pair of chinos, but that’s neither here nor there.

My point is that I’ve barely begun to live, freedom-wise. Today I went go to Safeway and hung out a load of laundry, and that pretty much took up all the two and a half hours I had before it was time to go and get child #1 again. When I thought I was going to fit in freelancing I don’t know.

Saturday miscellany

Sunday Miscellany is a long-running “music and musings” (as they call it) programme on Irish radio. Every Sunday morning of my life, until I moved out (even, come to think of it, if I was hungoverly drinking a cup of tea at my boyfriend’s house because I’d, ahem, missed the last train), it was the soundtrack to breakfast before going to mass. It features soothing or energising pieces of music interspersed with short memoir-style essays, usually read by their authors. Its theme tune is probably one of the most comforting sounds I could ever wish to hear.

It was many years before I connected the written word “miscellany” with the missal-eny (missal, obviously, because it was church day) I’d heard about for so long.

I don’t have any soothing music, and right now it’s still Saturday, but here are some snippets anyway. Imagine them being read by the author while you eat your rice krispies and wait for the toast to pop.

************

Hooray! A new person likes me! I’ve been stuck at 12 on my Facebook likes for ages, and suddenly tonight it’s 13. It’s been particularly trying, because the first day I set it up, I got 15 likes straight away, and I thought, “This is easy! I’ll have 50 or 60 luvvies in no time,” but then it wasn’t working properly and I had to take it down and start from scratch the next day, and I’m still not back up to the original 15. So, you know, if you’re on Facebook and you’d like to like me, please do. If you don’t want the updates, you can always hide them, but otherwise it’s an easy way to get a notification whenever I write a new post. And you get bonus super-secret only-for-FB-likers updates every now and then (but not annoyingly often) too.

I’ve just finished Operating Instructions; a book that I’ve seen recommended as new-parent reading ever since I was pregnant. It was good: somewhat surprisingly God-filled, but in a very diffident way. Americans (I generalize; forgive me) are so much more out there about their faith. Every time I click Next Blog on Blogger (which I have to do quite often because they’ve sneakily set it up so that to get to my dashboard I have to go forward and then back again; I won’t object because presumably other people have to click to my blog for the same reason, and what goes around comes around), I’m amazed by how often God is invoked in the next blogger’s About or Description or something. Irish people keep quiet about their beliefs even when they’re strong – especially when they’re strong, I’d say. The prosletysing life is not for us. Evangelical Irishmen are few and far between, except when drunk. (I generalise, but I’m allowed.)

It was quite similar to Anne Enright’s Making Babies, I thought, which was given to me when I was pregnant. I started it and tailed off, but when Monkey was about six months old I picked it up again and every word resonated with me, hilariously or sentimentally. If you enjoyed the one, I recommend the other.

Mabel didn’t nap yesterday, and in consequence went to sleep in a swift ten minutes at bedtime. She always falls asleep with me on her right, with her feet hanging off the side of the bed. Tonight we are not so lucky; I’m currently listening to her on the baby monitor, conning Daddy into singing songs and reading more stories.

My new glasses have been hurting the bridge of my nose, making me look – when I take them off – even more like my grandmother than I usually do. Her not-inconsequential nose was pinched at the top not by glasses but rather by old age, the rest of her flesh having dropped a little around the cartilage, leaving little indents on either side. (My nose is not the impressive Roman one of my maternal grandmother and some of my cousins, but it’s a mini version of it.) I took them in to have the small, hard pads replaced by some more cushy silicone ones.

The nice (but not cute) Jason-Long-wannabe hipster nerd who had sold them to me was there again, spieling his spiel to some other poor sightless fool. He had been helpful, offering opinions and bringing along new selections, one of which was the pair I ended up with. At one point I tried on a pair, looked in the mirror, and remarked, “A little too Lisa Loeb, don’t you think?” He laughed encouragingly, but even before I said it I thought that I probably had ten years on him and wondered if he’d know what I was talking about. Then I rationalised that she was more popular over here and probably had more hits than just the one I know, and that the glasses were a fairly constant part of her image, as far as I knew. So I said it anyway. It’s amazing how many thoughts you can fit in the instant before you make even the most offhand of comments.

So none of us got raptured today. Did you? When we came home from Monkey’s soccer game this morning (wherein the reds massacred the purples by about ten goals to nil, but none of them were scored by him; he’s more into defence, which he pronounces in the American way with the accent on the “dee”, to my chagrin) the Jehovah’s Witnesses were making the rounds of our neighbours, and I wondered if it would be interesting, or politic, to bring up the whole notion of the world ending this afternoon with them. But they didn’t call to our door, even though they must have seen us arrive. Maybe we looked beyond redemption, one way or the other.

Apples of my eyes

Posting has been sparse here this week because I’ve been donning my travel-agent hat and figuring out planes, trains and automobiles (ferries, actually) in and between England, Wales, and Ireland for our trip this summer. I think I have us sorted out now, so all I have to do work out exactly what mechanism we’ll use to tote the smaller child without having the larger child hijack it all the time (I’m thinking Ergo, or maybe a tiny stroller he wouldn’t fit into – the dolly stroller, perhaps), arrange some car seats to borrow in Dublin, and plan a party where we get to see everyone but we don’t have to do any work. Potluck, anyone?

Right now, at 8.30pm, Monkey is the golden child. He’s basically a miracle baby. This is because he’s asleep. B says goodnight, Monkey lies down, closes his eyes, and goes to sleep. Then he stays asleep until tomorrow morning. (And then he wakes up B, not me.) He’s everything I ever dreamed of in a child. (Back when I used to get to dream.)

Mabel, in contrast, is the demon child. She’s still awake. She escaped and ran downstairs twice. She wanted books. She didn’t want books. She wanted little Batman. She wanted mumeet. She wanted the big side. She wanted the other side. She wanted the other big side. She wanted to play with her doll’s house. She wanted medicine because her tooth hurt. I’m hoping it kicks in soon and she lets me put her to sleep, because I’m tired and I have other things to do, like taking pictures of my new glasses and posting them on Facebook.

At her naptime this afternoon, Monkey disturbed my Very Special Quiet Time – during an ad break, because that’s what he does during my quiet time – to insist that I send a message on my computer to the people who make plastic because he’d figured out, for once and for definite this time, how to fly. He just needs big plastic wings, five big, that I can ask the people to make to his exact specifications, which involve the very important detail that they need to be as sharp as the edge of a door.  I clicked a link to read about how Queen Liz on her historic visit to Dublin didn’t drink her complementary pint of Guinness but Prince Philip nearly did – clearly the much-needed light relief; now I understand his role and why he makes famously silly comments – it’s because One is so terribly terribly serious and solemn and queenly all the time – and Monkey, in great relief, announced: “That’s it. Done.” I don’t think he understands how Internet commerce works at all.

Anyway. My glasses. When last we left this thrilling train of thought, I was hurtling towards maybe possibly finding out about getting laser surgery. Then the nice man from the laser surgery people rang me back to say that I couldn’t even have the initial examination to see if I was a candidate until six months after I’d stopped breastfeeding. Well. Since that won’t happen till the middle of the century or so, I went the more sensible route and booked a local eye exam with a view (har) to getting new glasses after all.

I dumped Mabel on a helpful friend (who let her spend the morning sitting on the front lawn watering a ceramic frog and most of her own clothing with the hose attachment, but heck, it was warm and she was happy, and the frog was very clean by the end of it) and went off unencumbered to look at red lights and green lights and points of light and wiggly lines in my peripheral vision as well as the traditional ever-decreasing A D F S thingies, and it turned out that rather than being a mere two years since my last pair of glasses, it was more like four. (Actually, he said, “Your last visit was in ’07,” and it took me several moments to figure out what that meant and where it was in relation to the present day.) So I felt totally vindicated in going the whole hog and ordering a pair of prescription sunglasses too, to replace the ones I use in the car that are probably ten years old and perhaps I’m guilty of missing things I should be seeing, like maybe other cars or short people or speed-limit signage.

And now I have, for perhaps the first time in my life, a pair of glasses that look pretty good. Cool, even. They’re not trying to blend in and disappear: I decided it was time to embrace the sexy librarian within and be a Girl Who Wears Glasses without shame. They’re purple, to boot. (I would take a photo but the daylight is gone. Maybe tomorrow.)

What’s more, everything is sharper. I’m not sure how much I should be celebrating the fact that now I’ll be able to see more clearly just exactly how badly my bathroom floors need to be cleaned.

Look me in the cleavage and tell me the truth

Guess what I did this week? No, I didn’t hoover the upstairs carpet (though I did con B into doing that a couple of weeks ago, so it should be good for another, what, three months?); I called the number about laser eye surgery. My excuse for procrastinating has been that I can’t ever make phone calls during the day, because as soon as the children see I’m on the phone, they rush over to yell in my ear or demand impossible things or fall over and hurt themselves or bring the toy shelves crashing to the floor, and only people I’m related to can be expected to deal with a phone call punctuated by “Stop that” and “Get down” and “In a minute” and “Just wait till I’m finished” and “Go! Away!”

So on Monday when I cunningly sent B and the children down the hill to the local egg hunt (postponed from Saturday when it had been raining), ostensibly so that I could ice the cupcakes for Monkey’s party that afternoon, I also took five minutes to make the damn phone call.

And guess what? My themes interlock effortlessly, as it turns out I can’t have laser surgery till three months after I stop breastfeeding. (Of course, they still want my money, so I’m booked in for a preliminary exam in a couple of weeks anyway, which is free unless I forget to ring them back and tell them that I won’t be doing it, and how could I possibly forget that; but it’s true enough that I may as well find out whether I’m a candidate up front rather than keeping the notion in the back of my mind for another year and then finding out that it’s not going to happen at all.)

The nice man asked me when I thought I’d be done with the nursing.
“I have no idea,” I said.
“How old is your baby?” he asked later in the conversation.
“Well, she’s two-and-a-half… but she likes to nurse…”

I’m happy to find that I’m not suddenly planning to wean just so I can go and have people stick lasers in my eyes. I think my priorities are in the right place. But maybe this will prove to be the long-term goal I’m aiming for whenever it may happen that I decide it’s time to call a halt. (Sometimes you really need a future subjunctive in English, don’t you?)

Mabel’s half-birthday is next Wednesday, and I’ve told her that she’ll be able to go to sleep on her own after that, like a big girl, like Monkey does. I’m planning to (maybe, hopefully, we’ll see how it goes) cut out the mid-morning and mid-afternoon nursing sessions she likes to indulge in if we’re at home doing nothing much, and try to cut it down to just morning, naptime, and bedtime – but then to stop after ten minutes rather than nursing her all the way to sleep, and get her to work it out for herself. This will take some doing, and some will power (and frankly, I’m not sure I’m up to her weight when it comes to will power), but if we manage it, my hope is that perhaps she’ll figure out how to put herself back to sleep without me when she wakes in the night too.

You can see by all my prevaricationary vocabulary there that I’m not entirely fully on board with my plan. But I have to start somewhere.

Mabel scaling a small playground climbing wall

She’s a big girl, after all.