A few weeks ago I was in the kitchen, refereeing the morning scramble for breakfast. Max stood on one side of the (small) room, and squinted at the clock over the stove on the other side.
"What time is it?" he asked. I looked from him to the clock and back again. Ah. What time is it? Time for glasses, methinks.
It was sort of sweet for me, because I'd discovered I needed glasses in just the same way, in the kitchen with my mother one morning. I was looking for the sugar, she held up the bag of it and asked if that was what I wanted, I squinted, she asked if I could see what she was holding...and there you have it. I wore glasses or contacts for the next 22 years or so, until I had my corneas lasered into submission.
I wasn't in a huge hurry to get Max in for glasses, because I also remembered how very fast my prescription changed at first. But Clay is a better parent than I, and he got him in for an appointment this afternoon.
I was making dinner when they called, on their way home from the doctor. Oh yes, Max will be getting his glasses.
He is NINE YEARS OLD.
I sat at dinner tonight and watched him and chastised myself. I've seen him pull his books close to his face, but I always attributed it to his tracking problems. And now I guess we know why those tracking problems have persisted so much.
I don't know how it is that Max got dealt such a tough hand. I had a rough, rough pregnancy with him, but he was born full sized and healthy. The doctor, looking at his eyes today, asked if he'd been premature or had a high fever as a newborn. When Clay told me that, I flashed back on an image of newborn Max. He was cold, and wouldn't warm up, so the nurses had him under warming lights, swathed in plastic. No one knew why his temperature stayed so low, but I knew that I needed to hold him, skin against skin, and keep him safe.
Here are the issues Max alone, out of my boys, has to deal with. ADD. The aforementioned tracking issues (basically, the muscles of his eyes don't work well together, causing him to fatigue quickly whenever reading or doing paper and pencil work). Apparently, near- and far-sightedness. He has a dramatic underbite that will require a LOT of orthodontic work, and possibly surgery where they BREAK his JAW. But they won't know about that for a while, because he has an EXTRA SET OF PERMANENT TEETH in his lower jaw, and they have to wait for those to come in (his first set of permanent teeth will have to be pulled) to see what his bite is like. He's had sleep disturbances for most of his life - that's gotten a lot better in the last few years. Asthma.
I tried to imagine what the world looks like to Max. Fuzzy all around, and up close, words wobble and blur. I can't picture it, and the thought of it makes me feel a bit claustrophobic.
I'm trying to remember that today's eye doctor visit is a good thing. His eyes have always been bad, and now he's going to get help with that. Another tool to help Max live as Max. This is a good thing.
But I can't help it - I look at my long-haired boy and I see a baby for whom the world was too cold. I want to hold him close and keep him safe.