No pun intended (this time), but I should have seen this coming. From the time when he was just seven and a half months old and stabbed me in the eye with his very first Valentine’s Day card, David William has had a… unique relationship with vision. We thought that after his spastic attack upon my cornea, that he would be done with eyeball-related crises, especially considering that I started wearing glasses, and for a few years we were right. But he’s always rubbing at them, and half the time we’re convinced that he needs to see an optometrist. Actually, I’m not entirely sure why we haven’t taken him. I should probably ask Flor about that. Regardless, however, it was only a matter of time until karma repaid him for his Valentine’s Day massacre of my right eyeball. It would have been more appreciated if he had been spending time with his grandmother or mother, as opposed to his former victim, but apparently that’s not how karma works. And so it came to pass that after I had gotten not nearly enough sleep so that I could wake up early so that I could get to work by four a.m., and then work four and a half of the most physically demanding hours in recent memory, walked home exhausted, and collapsed onto the bed to watch a little Netflix, he jammed his grubby little finger in his eye and deprived me of my chance to unwind a little. Come to think of it, I’m almost positive that he might have done it on purpose.
Shortly after I got back home this morning, he decided that it would be okay to run around the house and drag his knuckles on the kitchen floor while hiding beneath the kitchen table. And when I say drag his knuckles, I mean crawl around on all fours because I told him that he couldn’t drink his sister’s juice (which his mother wound up giving to him anyway). About ten minutes later, back in the room, after kicking up some dust, he ground his filthy little fingers in his eye to relieve the itching, and immediately exclaimed that his eye was hurting. We rinsed it out, and I took a look to see if it was an eyelash or other foreign body, but the only thing which I could see was a strange affectation of the eye which he had contaminated. The best I can describe it as is if he had a blister on his cornea. It was yellowish and translucent, and seemed to have collected toward the bottom of his eye. I’m not ashamed to admit that I may have freaked out a little. If he had hurt himself almost anywhere else, I would have felt comfortable enough to triage him to determine how much I could take care of here, or if we truly had to pay a visit to the clinic. Eyes, though, are not my bailiwick. Give me a fever, a cut, a sprain, and I am gorram Doctor House. Present me with damaged optic organs, and I am running to the nearest doctor’s house (not really their place of residence, I just liked the symmetry- bite me!).
I had already changed into my pajamas (because reasons!), and he hadn’t actually changed out of his, so it was a hectic dash to get us both properly dressed and out the door in timely fashion. Someone has been letting him leave the house in his pajamas because they don’t want to have an argument with him, and now he thinks that that’s okay. Which it isn’t. Because if I have to put on pants, he has to put on pants. I managed to get us both dressed fairly quickly, all things considered, and we were almost ready to run out the door, when David informed that he couldn’t find his other shoe, and that his eye really hurt. This, of course, was all that was needed to summon Lecture Dad (TM pending), who shimmered into being right where I’d been standing and informed David that if he left his shoes in the same spot every time he took them off (we have one of those hanging things of pouches for footwear adorning the inside of our bedroom door), he would always know where to find them, and that if he would wash his hands occasionally and quit picking at his eyes, he wouldn’t have gotten himself into his current predicament.
“This is the worst day ever!” he informed me. “Today is not going in my diary!”
“Be that as it may,” Lecture Dad (TM pending) replied, tired of his son’s shenanigans, “We’re going to the doctor, and they’re going to check out what’s going on in your eye.”
“But I want to play Xbox!” he began to whinge.
“Then maybe you shouldn’t have jabbed your bacteria-laden digits in your eyes!“
“But I don’t want to go to the doctor!”
Lecture Dad (TM pending) was having none of his son’s excuses, “Neither do I, but since your eye looks freaky, and you did it to yourself, we’re going.” I tossed the missing footwear in David’s direction, and said, “Here. Here’s your shoe. Put it on your foot, and let’s get going!”
“Okay, Dad.” David wiggled his foot into the remaining shoe, pulled on a jacket, and we finally managed to leave the apartment.
As I may have already mentioned these past few weeks, money is kind of tight. I mean, let’s face it: I didn’t get a job doing what I’m doing (for no hours at minimum wage) because the writing has been unbelievably profitable (actually, it has been unbelievably profitable, in that I’ve made $17 in royalties, and I frankly cannot believe that all my friends who said that they would by my stuff when it came out have somehow managed not to do so). So when David started in about not wanting to walk to the clinic (a sentiment with which I could relate, having done more exercise today than in all the six months in which I wasn’t working), I may have snapped at him a little. I was tired, my muscles ached, and I was fairly well and truly chapped in a couple of very tender areas, due to my superhuman ability to sweat normally for three average people, but only in my crotch. So we gimped along the twenty-minute walk up to the doctor’s office. The wind was blowing fiercely (as it always does in the wind tunnel which I’ve come to know as Not Quite Richmond, California), so I offered David my glasses to keep the random bits of debris from striking his already sensitive eyes. This, however, was not apparently enough, as halfway into our walk, he pulled his jacket over his head, and had me lead him the rest of the way as if he could not see (which he couldn’t).
We finally arrived at the clinic, which was filled with kids with stuffy noses and the like. I told the nurse that I needed someone to take a look at David, and, to her credit, she bumped us up to the head of the line. Like every visit, they checked his height and weight (it seems he’s not growing all that much), his blood pressure (perfect, according to the nurse), and temperature (within human norms), and then led us to a room. Normally, when the waiting room is filled like it was today, they make us go back out until it is our turn, but apparently my description of his eye was enough to make them want to keep him away from the other children. Not that it made the doctor see us any sooner. If there is anything I dislike more than having to take David to the doctor, it’s having to sit with him while we’re waiting for the doctor to see him. Look, I get it: no one likes to wait. What doesn’t help, however, is flipping out every fifteen seconds because it seems to be taking a little while for the doctor to arrive. Lecture Dad (TM pending) reminded David that if he had put his Kindle Fire to charge last night instead of leaving it upon the kitchen table, he would have had it ready to bring along with him when we went to see the doctor. Whinging Boy (TM also pending) did not seem to believe that point was relevant, but in an extremely high-pitched and aggravating manner.
Finally, the doctor tapped upon the door, and it was time to get down to business. Before I go any further, however, I need to share a minor point: I’m not sure how horrible a person that the following revelation makes me, but I tend to get a little skittish around doctors with a German accent. I know that there are medical schools in Germany (well, I don’t know, but I assume), and that to practice medicine in the United States, he has to have been able to prove that he knows what he is doing (in theory), but there is something deeply unsettling about an older man with blond hair and blue eyes, thick German accent, lab coat, and a stethoscope talking about medicine. He seemed to know what he was doing, however, as he agreed with my assessment of the situation entirely, and prescribed antibiotic drops for the affected eye. While he was preparing to send over the prescription to our nearest Walgreens, he took a page from the playbook of Lecture Dad (TM still pending), and told David William to make sure to wash his grubby hands with more frequency than he seems to be able to manage now, and to stop jabbing his filthy fingers into his eyes. I thanked Herr Doktor, and we were on our way.
As it turns out, those words of gratitude may have been uttered a tad prematurely, as by the time we’d made our way back to the pharmacy (narrowly escaping the Crazy Dude who’s been roaming around the city for the past several days, screaming at passersby, and trying to instigate a bout of fisticuffs), nearly twenty minutes later, the prescription still hadn’t been sent. Almost an hour later, with both David and I pushed to the limits of our patience, we finally picked up his bloody eye drops, and made our way back home. While we were waiting, I also picked up some more Children’s Claritin, in the hopes that maybe it was just a case of allergies which had inspired my son to endanger his vision, and therefore, I could protect his eyes from further damage with five millilitres of liquid loratadine a day. We got home to an empty apartment, and I informed my son that it was time for me to administer his medicine, the same medicine that I had previously advised him that he would have to have, and which he agreed to receive without throwing his standard-issue tantrum.
There are few things more damaging to the well-being of a parent’s psyche than the child who refuses to take his (incredibly important) medicine. It’s not one of those cases where you can just give into his fears, and not give him what he needs. I tried for nearly fifteen minutes to get him calm enough to sit still for the one drop of medicine which I had to put into his eye. I tried explaining it. I tried showing him what it would be like by squirting a dose into my eye. I attempted bribery and threats. He still refused to tilt his head back so that I could do what I had to. Finally, I had to hold him down and launch several drops down toward his eye (in the hope that at least some of the medicine would actually reach its target), all the while fighting off his flailing limbs and screaming in my ear. It reminded me of when he was just a little baby, and we took him for his vaccinations. The look of absolute betrayal frozen on his face as I had to hold him still while the doctor pierced his skin is still burned into my mind. He broke my heart today, just as I’m sure that I broke his, but at least his eye is now feeling better, and I’ve even seen him wash his hands a few times since we’ve gotten back. Presidenting may be hard, but it’s nothing compared to parenting.
I think I need a nap.