Written by: Laura Rouse-DeVore
I recently had the “privilege” of taking my seven-year-old son to his very first eye doctor appointment. He’s not a child who complains, so the only way we knew he needed to go was when we received a note from the school. So, I made an appointment and he and I ventured off to have our eyes checked out together.
I never anticipated this little outing/experience would be as comical or as much of a learning experience (for me) as it turned out to be.
The doctor’s office was prompt on letting us back and the assistant was very gentle and understanding when working with my son—knowing this was his first time. She patiently explained things to him. First we went in to do “the machine tests”. There’s the one that blows the puff of air into your eye and the other one shows you a long road and you are supposed to look at what happens to be at the end of the long road—a hot air balloon, a farm animal, it depends on the type of machine. While you look at the “end of the road”, the machine takes pictures and measures (??) your eyes. (Please note: Optometry is NOT my specialty… so please do not be offended by my ignorance on such details. I mean no disrespect to those who do specialize and/or work in optometry.)
I went through the tests first so I could demonstrate to my son what he was supposed to do when it was his turn. After watching me, he got up there, put his chin on the bar and proceeded to shake and giggle…of course…making these tests nearly impossible to perform. I encouraged him to sit still. (He is seven… “sitting still” is hardly in his vocabulary and is rarely possible) He said, “I’m just SO EXCITED, mom!!!” It was at this moment I realized I was about to watch “something” unfold here at the eye doctor’s office…but with my seven-year-old, it’s difficult to gauge just what that particular “something” might be.
We finally got through the “machine tests” and went to the exam room to do the “preliminary tests”. The “Read the smallest line of letters you can” tests. My son is a whiz with his letters and embraces any and all challenges, so he breezed right through…still a bit giddy, giggly and very inquisitive. These tests did reveal that he was nearsighted in one eye. When the doctor came in, my son shifted the inquisition into high gear.
There were moments when I “face palmed” – like when he asked the doctor if he would need to wear an eye patch. There were moments I wanted to crawl under the chair I was perched on in the corner – like when he asked the doctor if babies were born with eye patches on. There were moments I couldn’t help but just giggle to myself – like when the doctor told him he would need glasses because he was nearsighted in one of his eyes and he asked the doctor if he could have a monocle, since it was only one eye. I didn’t even know a seven-year-old knew what a monocle was and I still don’t even know where he learned about them. The real high point was when he was pushing the hydraulic chair up and down while the doctor was doing my exam.
This is where the learning experience came into play for me. You see, typically, his behavior would have completely and utterly embarrassed me to my core. I would have let anger rise up and would have given my son a list of all of his missteps and failures while we were driving home. But I realized something that day. I realized this experience—his first eye doctor appointment and examination—was an adventure to him.
I was witnessing an adventure unfold in the life of my seven-year-old son.
What a privilege this was, indeed! When I started to look at this experience through the eyes of my child, it was hard to be upset at him for all of his borderline inappropriate questions, his inability to sit still, his excitement, his exploration of the hydraulic chair pedals, and him telling one of the technicians that her teeth looked blue! It was difficult to be mad at the situation or at his behavior or at the innocence he was displaying in this vulnerable place. And I realized changing my outlook allowed me to enjoy and laugh about the circumstances. I enjoyed watching my son experience life and adventure and it made it much more fun when I suppressed my own expectations and just let him be him in that situation.
Helen Keller said, “Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” Truly my children see the world this way—everything is an adventure, everything is up for discovery.
This also made me think about other situations with my kiddos. If I had changed my viewpoint and been more flexible, would I have enjoyed them more? Like the time they insisted on singing Christmas carols at the top of their lungs in the department store bathroom in the middle of September? Would I have fully embraced the time they insisted on wearing their Batman costumes, capes and masks while we were car shopping? How many times have my own inhibitions, expectations and fear of what others might think affected my ability to let my children live and experience life? How many times has it affected my ability to live and experience life with my children?
Today I challenge you to try to find your child’s perspective. Look for the humor in the midst of your frustrations. Find your own inner child and don’t be afraid to dance with your children through the grocery store aisles. I challenge you to look for times to allow your children to just be themselves to live and experience life. I challenge you to seize opportunities to truly let go of your inhibitions, laugh and dream with your children. Live and experience life right along with them. You may just find that it’s one of the greatest joys and “spices” in your life.
To read more from Not aLone Mom click HERE.