DS started reception last September, so we got our standard letter from the school. You know, the one that asks for their vaccination history ( I can’t remember, have no idea where his red book is and I’m not spending hours on the phone to the GP’s surgery so I just write ‘completed’ across this bit) and tells us we should take our school starters to the dentist and optician to have their teeth and eyes checked.
We’ve had some truly horrendous family outings to these places in the past and so I tend to put them off. Therefore, a reminder is always appreciated.
So I went in to our local optician and made some appointments. I love our opticians, they are really child friendly and don’t mind too much if my kids ask questions and are not just sitting there quietly. We moved there from another optician who had been really impatient with DD3 when she had been too scared to sit in the chair. Matters went from bad to worse when DS escaped from his push chair and climbed into the window display, knocking things over. The optician and his receptionist made cats bum faces and accused me of not being able to control my children. They may have had a point but I appreciate it when people just think these things, and don’t say them out loud. Anyhow, we never went back.
When I have to make routine appointments for everybody for any reason, the big question is always ‘Should we go en masse? Or in pairs? Or maybe one by one?’ If the procedure is painful or unpleasant, I tend to go for the one by one , or pairs option. But an eye examination is neither of those, so I made 4 appointments , one after another. To fit them all in, I had to take them out of school half an hour early. The girls were thrilled by the prospect.
DS, on the other hand, was not so happy. The day before his appointment, I started talking to him about where we’d be going and what they would do. He started crying and said his eyes were perfectly healthy and didn’t need to see a doctor. I made sympathetic noises but my mind wandered back to the disastrous visit we’d had to the our previous optician. The girls had all been before and could be relied on not to freak out. Maybe I should just take DS separately at another time?
In the end, my innate laziness won over and I kept the appointment for all four. DS went first , I figured if he misbehaved he could watch what happened to his sisters first and we might get another chance later. But he was absolutely fine; more than fine really, he was a star. He walked into the room happily and climbed straight up on the chair. There was absolutely no sign at all of the furious five year old I’d tried to placate the day before. In fact he made me look stupid because, of course, I’d told the optician that he wasn’t very happy with the idea of the exam.
DS was too short for the proper machine, so she used a special pair of spectacles instead. He looked so cute with them on, I started to rather hope he might need glasses.
He read out the letters in a mix of phonics and letter names once he realised they weren’t words and he didn’t need to blend them, and tolerated all the lights shining in his eyes. He enjoyed the 3D tests and surprised me by reading out the numbers from the colour blind test correctly ( ie 71 as ‘seventy one’), I didn’t know he could do that! And the verdict was that his sight was fine, as I’d thought it would be. But it’s always good to have this confirmed and of course, it’s free to have your child’s eyes tested in the UK so there is really no excuse not to have it done.
After DS’s successful examination, the girls went in one by one. I’d brought a bag full of books and colouring stuff which kept the others entertained while not in the examination room, so they were pretty well behaved. DD3 made friends with the window dresser who was working there at the same time and ended up being wrapped up in left over wrapping paper and matching the window display, and both the younger ones spent a lot of time watching the fish in the fish tank. We were there for 90 minutes and by the end of it I had relaxed a little , and was thinking maybe we could start taking the kids out in public again.
Then DD1 came out from her examination with the news she needed glasses. I needed glasses from the age of 8, so I wasn’t surprised that one of them needed some help, but I had been short sighted and it appeared that DD was ever so slightly long sighted. Probably she will only need glasses for 3-6 months and only when she is reading books or music, on the computer, or watching 3D films. She has always had trouble with 3D films and games and we assumed this was just something that was normal for her, but apparently this problem can be addressed and corrected.
DD was very pleased with the thought of needing glasses and chose a lovely red pair of frames. I think they really suit her and she can’t wait to pick them up at the end of next week.
She wasn’t at all phased by having braces put on, and needing glasses in the space of a month. It’s very different from when I was at school when either occurrence would have been considered a very big deal indeed. She’s got to go back in 6 months and have her eyes retested and hopefully that will be the end of it.
From the opticians, we rushed home for dinner and then headed off to swimming lessons. Where all the brownie points my children had earned behaving so well that afternoon were used up within 10 minutes. Squabbling, hitting, screaming, crying , being rude to adults-you name it, we had it last night and by the time I got them all home and to bed, I had decided we were never leaving the house again.
This is a problem because, in a few weeks time, we have a family dentist appointment. Wish me luck.