I think we were both hoping it would be more like around the age of 14, and not so much 14 months.
The first question that most people ask is “How were you able to tell?” Well, dispelling any notion that Allison and I practice some level of Parental Jedi, the indications were anything but subtle. For about a week, we both noticed that Jack would slightly cross his eyes on objects that got to within about 8 feet of his face. This is a cute example of what I’m talking about:
And that is far from a dramatic example of how bad it got by the end of that week. So, detection…that was easy. The next step was an appointment with a Pediatric Ophthalmologist. This is where things get sticky. We all know what the rigamarole of getting an eye exam is like. The sterile, darkened room. Your face firmly chin-planted on a space-age view finder, as the doctor proceeds with the scripted:
“Number 5 or Number 6? Five? Six? Which one is clearer? Five? Six? About the same?”
I still don’t know for certain if I’ve ever obtained an accurate prescription, as I tend to get fed up and just start making up numbers. Which MIGHT explain the constant piercing headache I get behind my eyeballs. Kidding. It’s not that bad. KIDDING!
So, in the end, it took four of us. Allison, me, Dr. Luke (don’t you love Doc’s who go by their first name?) and his nurse to all physically restrain my one year old so he could endure 45 minutes of, what must have seemed, baby torture. His pupils were dilated and various lenses were placed over his eyes as the doctor shined a light in. All this and he’s about an hour past nap time. The kid is practically a hero, but the hardest part is yet to come. The actual glasses. I don’t know if you know this or not, but you apparently cannot reason with a 14 month old. He doesn’t get the concept of “it’s for your own good” quite yet. Hell, it took me decades to wrap my head around it. We already knew how much Jack hated anything near his nose or if he’s ever forced to wear a hat. So, the concept of glasses that he would (per doctor’s orders) have to wear all day, “even in the tub before bed” seemed a daunting task.
We knew it would take consistency, but we were both fearful of how we’d measure up. There is one thing that we never really took into the equation: the notion that he would actually want to wear them. For the first 15 minutes it was everything we expected. Endless crying and hands clawing to get these damn things off his face. I picked him up and carried him around our home. This is where it all started to come together for Jack.
Now, we’ve been in this place since March of 2013. Not a long time, but eons in the life of Jack. Even the doctor is not entirely certain just how long his vision has been bad. All we knew was that as he was trying to focus more, his brain was compensating for the muscles in his eyes and crossing them to maintain even limited focus. It’s entirely possible that Jack’s vision has been bad since it first started to develop. So, he’s never really seen his home. We took him into his room and he looked around with joyful marvel at the new sites. He looked at all the stuffed animals that line his wall, which are just close enough to have likely NEVER been anything but a hodgepodge of color to him. He started picking them all up individually and showing them to us, almost to ask “I have this? How long have I had this?” Then, with a Tigger in one hand and a Piglet in the other, he noticed his reflection in the mirror about 8 feet away. Allison and I teared up, and Jack never looked back.
He’s been great with them since. He’ll pull them off when he’s getting sleepy so he can rub his eyes, but other than that they are as much a part of him now as the hair on his head. It’s funny. A few months ago I was planning on getting contact lenses due to Jack always pulling my glasses off my face. I’ve worn glasses since I was a teenager and at times they feel like they are strangling my face. Jack gave me the best reason possible to stick with glasses. As silly or egotistical as it may sound, I love the idea that me and him have that. That Jack wears glasses “just like Daddy”.
Thanks for listening. Have a great day and be well.