As plain as the…

Guilt trip alert!  There I was was, feeling like a fabulous mama for taking Gavriel Zev, Kid #4, out alone today.  We get to the subway and I announce that the subway will arrive in 7 minutes.

“How do you know that?” GZ asks.  Cool!  A chance to show him something amazing!

“Look on that television over there,” I say.  “There, at the bottom, it tells how long until the next train.”

“What television?”

“Um, the big one, hanging from the ceiling???”  I point, and he wanders towards it.  “See the line at the bottom with the big letters?” 

We wander closer, and closer, until he is standing practically beneath it and then, all becomes clear.  “Yes, I see it!”

Um, that’s not good.

“What about that sign in the middle of the tracks?” I ask ever-so-casually.  It’s a danger / warning sign:  he adores those.  But nope, he cannot read it at all.  Doesn’t even guess.

“How about the sign beside it?”

He grins:  “The picture means no smoking.”

“Right, but what do the words underneath it say?”

“Don’t smoke?”  (nope, they say “By Law whatever blabbety-blab”)

Hmm… by this point, I’m worried that the people on the platform will think I’m just torturing my kid because he can’t read.  He’s still very little, and most people are shocked by the fact that he reads so eloquently. 

But I am also thinking, this makes a lot of sense.  He has never read street signs or posters or billboards in that obnoxious way kids do as we go past on our way to places.  And this is a kid who cannot stop reading.  Can’t get enough of words, period.

In fact, he has never shown much interest (at least, lately – how far back?  always?) in things that were very much farther away than his nostrils.  And he loses things easily at the drop-in gym, which is a huge place where toys can easily get lost if they’re on the other side of the room.  He never seems to know where his boots are when they are right in plain sight.  And now I think, how many things have I been blaming him for???

Part of this is nothing sinister:  he’s just a space cadet.  I know the odds suggest that if you put on your shirt randomly, at least some of the time it’s going to be the right way around, but nope – he goes whole weeks with his shirt both inside-out and backwards, and it’s not a problem of distance vision.  (Though the fact that he dismisses it by saying, “nobody will notice,” might actually be a problem of distance vision, given that he probably can’t see details of what other people are wearing once they’re across the room.)

Yes, this is the ultimate parenting guilt trip.

It doesn’t help that this is not the first time for me.  Twelve or so years ago, in a very similar story, I noticed a kid’s deteriorated vision while out on a walk, making him peer at street signs and raving about the brand-new glasses that are going to help him enjoy the world so much more.  I guess around the house, we don’t notice as much.  Then, too, our living room is only about ten feet across.  He can probably see everything just fine, at home.

But out in the big wide world, there’s a whole big wide world… which is big and wide and full of words, which this boy in particular loves more than anything else.  So I do feel guilty, but I’m mostly happy that, now that it’s caught, this is such an easy fix.

I am mad at Ted, though.  Ted says he “suspected something a while ago.”  Um, what??!?  How can you “suspect” that your kid can’t see and not act on it that minute?  Within half an hour of getting home, I had an optometrist researched (7 happy-face reviews on! though the site also said she was an ophthalmologist… grr… ) and an appointment booked.

Another grr – we just went for a checkup and shots two months ago.  No eye test?!?  Argh.  Bad mama, yes, but bad doctor, too.

Still, there is one small victory in all this:

Glasses people rule!  With four out of six of our family in corrective lenses, we’ll have a majority at last…


  1. Wow, he's really been getting by huh? I never saw anything to make me think he's having trouble seeing! You should watch that episode of Little House with him, where Mary goes through the same thing.

  2. Or NOT, given that once I saw that episode I always believed I would be blind someday soon. :-/

  3. We just went through the same thing with my 6 yr old. And he'd never had an eye test at the Pediatrician's either. I'd been noticing that he'll hold his books up close while he reads and stands close to the computer etc. but had no idea that he also has trouble seeing distances. He just got his glasses a week ago.


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