Sunday, August 30, 2009

I can see clearly now...

The inevitable has come to Alison Reed. Cursed with sight-challenged parents and a gene pool rife with poor vision, she failed her first "real" eye exam last week.

The folks at Downtown Eye Care have been taking care of me since I moved to Indianapolis, and Jeff since he married me and thus secured good health insurance, so I knew they'd be good with Alison. She'd had vision tests in day care and at school, but this was her first visit with a professional.

She was a little leery of some of the fancy equipment, and I don't think realized how poorly she was reporting the little letters when she sat in the big chair. Dr. Habig kept telling me how healthy her eyes were and he even had me doubting whether she was ready for glasses. So finally, I said, "Are you saying she doesn't need them yet?"

"Oh she needs 'em," he said. "Her eyes are healthy; she just can't see well."

Alison had a great time shopping for frames and was excited about getting her glasses. But when she told some kids at school that she was going to get them, her arch-enemy (name withheld to protect the catholic guilty) laughed at her.

Quick as that -- before they'd even arrived -- she didn't want to wear the glasses.

When they arrived, I picked her up early from school, and she was excited again. Lori, the senior optician, is really enthusiastic, and her energy level helped. On the way home we played the game of "can you read the letters on that sign" and Ali was intrigued by the idea of her improved vision.

Nearly everyone I know who had glasses as a kid remembers that moment when they put on their specs and realized that trees had individual leaves. It's kind of a strange discovery because even people in new subdivisions know of trees and leaves, but that's the first discovery newly speced people seem to make.

I was outed when my brother and I were playing the A-B-C game coming home from Linton one day. I couldn't see the letters on the trestle that used to cross the highway near Midland. I was in 5th grade and I'd never found a vowel on that old train car bridge, but I was so used to not seeing well that it never came up in conversation before. I think I had doubted David's discovery of a much-needed letter and may have called him a cheater.

Everyone else in the car could see the letters, but I insisted they weren't there. I was bespectacled a few weeks later. Brownish octagonal wire frames. Every year my lenses got thicker. In high school Jeff Miller dubbed me Fearless Fly because of my huge plastic frames. (Believe it or not, that was one of the least horrible of my nicknames...)

Anyway, I've been watching Ali like a hawk, thinking if we correct her vision quicker, she might not need the Coke bottle lenses that I have. She doesn't have to wear her glasses all the time; just when she reads and does classwork.

Jeff made a big deal of the glasses, and we talked a lot about putting them in her case and not losing them, and being careful with them. She seemed OK with wearing them again when we set off for school the first day she had them.

I asked her how it went as we drove home that afternoon. "Not so good, Mom," she said, sadly.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I put them and everyone at my table laughed at me. One kid said they made me look idiotic. One asked me if they were mine and when I said, 'yes,' she said, 'take them off!'" Ali reported.

She said she took them off and put them in her desk and never took them out again.

"I sit close to the board, Mom, it's OK. I don't really need them," she said.

My immediate reaction was to go right back to the school and knock a few 3rd graders around, but I don't want to be that Mom. Plus, most of the kids in her class were already gone for the day. I tried to be reasonable, not go overboard with soothing her bruised ego.

I also tried to remember that Alison sometimes has a flair for the dramatic. I asked if her teacher had heard any of the comments. Ali said no.

I quizzed her a little more, and it was clear that she believes the class thinks she looks bad in the glasses. Never mind that Dominic (who still pines for her love) wears glasses and that at least half a dozen of her classmates wear them. It's a new look for her, and it's getting a reaction.

When I met her teacher, Miss Lawson, at back-to-school night, she wasn't aware that Ali even had glasses.

So I'm pretty sure whatever has really happened, it's been a limited event. Miss Lawson is aware of the need to wear them now, and I'm pretty sure if the class erupts into titters, that she'll smack 'em down. (Jeff made me promise not to enlist help from the teacher or address the little brats myself, and I haven't. But I want to.)

I think she looks cute in them, Team Ogden gave her a boost when they saw them, too, and I'm going to have her watch this great segment on CBS Sunday Morning . What nice timing...

We've had a good weekend. Alex came over Friday for a sleepover and they tested out the bunk bed.

Saturday, Karin came to get him. When she told him it was time to go, both Ali and Alex hesitated like they always do. Usually when they leave each other they trade a toy or two. Karin told Alex, "You can take one thing, so look around this whole house and decide what that one thing is."

He glanced around the family room. "I choose her," he said.

So they had a second sleepover at the Ogdens last night.

Glasses or no glasses, Alex is Alison's good friend. I love that boy.

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