Monday, June 27, 2011

The eyes have it!

My son is starting middle school in a few short weeks. My own adolescent experience was so many light years ago that it’s mostly just a blur of feathered hair, angst, and Clearasil. What I do remember and what my son is beginning to realize is that most kids this age have one common goal: fitting in. This child has never cared what clothes or shoes I bought for him as long as they were comfortable. He would just as soon go to school with bed head than let anyone try to tame his hair with some water and a brush. That has all changed now with his pleading for the “right” shoes and his perfect execution of the Justin Bieber hair flip. His mad dash to pre-teen conformity has led us down another path that I wasn’t quite ready for yet: replacing his eye glasses with contacts.

I don’t do eyeballs. I tried to explain that fact to my son in no uncertain terms. If I’m too squeamish to touch my own eye, I’m certainly not sticking my shaky fingers into another person’s gooey socket. I thought I had done a good job of scaring him away from the idea, telling him of the dangers of accidentally sleeping in them and how, if he wasn’t careful, he would end up with a weeping, nasty infection. However, all of my scare tactics flew out of the window when he went for his check-up in May. The first words out of that kid’s mouth were, “Am I old enough to get contacts now?” I wanted to scream, and I shot him a “how-in-the-world-can-you-betray-the-woman-who-birthed-you” kind of look. Of course, the doctor was on his side, arguing that a person with his eye condition (astigmatism, far-sighted) does better with contacts. GRRRR…..

I caved.

On the day the contacts arrived, we went in for instruction on the proper care and placement of the lenses. Even though I vowed to never help him due to my overly sensitive gag and flinch reflexes, I made a mental note of the lesson because we all know how responsible and diligent a pre-teen boy can be in these situations. He had to be able to successfully put them in and take them out several times before they would allow him to leave with them. He passed with flying colors, so I nervously took my newly un-bespectacled boy home.

That night we went into the bathroom when it was time to remove the contacts. I was so anxious that I couldn’t even watch him reach into his eye to pull it out. The right one came out beautifully. “Okay,” I thought, “maybe this won’t be as bad as I imagined.” Just when I believed we were in the clear, he couldn’t get the left lens out. After several attempts, he started to become upset, telling me that he was scared that his eye would be “messed up” if the lens stayed there, and he had to sleep in it. (Parenting Fail. Maybe those scare tactics were a bad idea, huh?)

I encouraged him to stop trying for a few minutes in an effort to help him regain his composure. I suggested that we get my super bright, magnified make-up mirror (which, by the way, will hurt your feelings if you’re over forty years old) and sit at the table downstairs for a better look at what we were dealing with. He tried over and over and over and over and over again, but that lens wouldn’t budge. To say that we had reached the point of hysteria in our house is an understatement. My son and I were both teetering on the edge of a full-blown meltdown. Even my husband Googling “what happens when you sleep with your contacts in” didn’t stop my son from believing that his eye would somehow shrink back into his brain and dissolve if he went to bed with it in there.

Then, I had a light bulb moment. We called our neighbor, a nurse, and asked if he could come over with his seventh grader, who also wears contacts. I figured between the two of them, they could get it out. I had to leave the room before the excavation began. I just couldn’t stand to watch a thirteen-year-old boy dig around in my baby’s eye. And dig he did, each time grabbing what he thought was the lens, but never getting a good grip on it. After at least another thirty minutes or more of trying with no success, we decided to stop. My son declared that his six hours in contacts were enough and that he was going back to wearing glasses.  I promised to get him the best looking frames out there with Transitions lenses to boot. After this drama, I would have gotten him a pony if he had asked.

My husband took him to the eye doctor the next morning only to discover that the lens wasn’t in his eye after all. It must have come out sometime during the great wailing and gnashing of teeth downstairs at the kitchen table. Later that day, I walked into my son's bathroom, and to my surprise, there sat the lens on the floor in plain sight. It didn’t come out during the meltdown as we presumed. He actually got it out on the second try and didn’t realize it. So, for two hours, friends and family were digging into his bare eye, latching on briefly to the eyeball itself each time. (EEEEEKKKKKK!!!)

To my son’s credit, he didn’t give up so easily as I would have. He agreed to try again, and after his mutilated-looking eye was back to normal, he started wearing contacts without another cringe-worthy incident.  I still look away every time he takes them out, hoping that we don’t have a repeat of that first toe-curling night. Did I mention that I don’t do eyeballs?


  1. OMG! OMG! OMG!!! I had to read this the same way I watch scary movies...with my hands securly over my face, peeking through two fingers, completly hunched over and toes curled! ewwwww

  2. I was watching it unfold live and in person the same way!! :-)

  3. OMGsh poor guy! He is a trooper for trying them again. That would have been enough to scare me for life!


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