Lessons in Parenting, Baseball, and Optometry

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Em Carpenter

Em was one of those argumentative children who was sarcastically encouraged to become a lawyer, so she did. She is a proud life-long West Virginian, and, paradoxically, a liberal. In addition to writing about society, politics and culture, she enjoys cooking, podcasts, reading, and pretending to be a runner. She will correct your grammar. You can find her on Twitter.

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12 Responses

  1. Avatar Murali
    Ignored
    says:

    I am confused: Which son needs glasses? the one who likes sports or the one who doesn’t?Report

  2. Avatar Em Carpenter
    Ignored
    says:

    The one who enjoys it and still plays… the one who didn’t enjoy it quit two years ago and that was the end of that.Report

  3. Avatar Richard Hershberger
    Ignored
    says:

    We get our kids’ glasses through BJs. We pay a modest fee for a warranty, under which replacements for broken glasses are $15. We have made good use of this warranty. We also worry much less about glasses being worn while playing sports.Report

  4. Avatar CJColucci
    Ignored
    says:

    My father gave up playing catch with me when I was quite young because I couldn’t catch the damn ball. Some years later, we were having a Coke at a local store and he noticed me squinting. He turned his head and saw a sign. “What does that sign say?” he asked. “What sign?” I replied. “That sign over there.” “There’s a sign over there?”
    The next day, I went to the optometrist, who said I was basically blind as a bat (currently about 20/400). We used to get eye tests in school, so how come nobody noticed before? Because of the alphabet, I was always seated near enough to the blackboard to make out the teachers’ large writing. What about the eye tests? Before the first one, I had to visit the school nurse on another matter. I sat beneath the eye chart, bored out of my mind. I spent the next several minutes looking at it and making up nonsense words from the chart. When I came in later that year, the nurse asked me to tell her what was on the chart. Nobody mentioned that it was a vision test and I assumed she wanted to know what was on the chart for some damn-fool reason and couldn’t be bothered to check for herself. Although I couldn’t see it worth a damn, I knew the nonsense words I had created and, being a polite and helpful kid, informed the nurse what the chart said. So no one ever knew I couldn’t see.
    Every so often, my father would get maudlin about the whole business, probably believing that he had blighted my young life by giving up on playing catch when I couldn’t see.
    I still can’t catch.Report

    • Avatar Maribou in reply to CJColucci
      Ignored
      says:

      @cjcolucci Glad to know it isn’t only me who didn’t realize that they wanted to know if I could *see* the letters, not guess at them based on other context.

      In my case, I went through years of vision improvement (including needed surgery), and multiple eye professionals including at the regional children’s hospital, but never actually experienced 20/20 vision until my regular optometrist retired and the new young guy *told me* not to guess if I wasn’t sure. I was thirteen.

      He also got me into contacts which allowed me to understand what regular people experienced with peripheral vision. (I’d be legally blind were I not correctable, so my non-contacts peripheral vision is very limited.)

      Revelatory. I went around for weeks exclaiming at the improved resolution of the world.Report

      • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Maribou
        Ignored
        says:

        One of my crackpot theories is that, given enough time, everyone with glasses will eventually try on everyone else’s glasses. A law school classmate set her glasses down beside me at an outdoor concert and I tried them on. She was nearly as nearsighted as I was. I knew she didn’t wear contacts, but most of the time she didn’t wear glasses, either. I could never comprehend how she could wander around so seriously nearsighted most of the time when she didn’t have to.Report

  5. Avatar Oscar Gordon
    Ignored
    says:

    Bug is not one for team sports, largely because he is a huge fan of Calvinball without knowing what that is exactly. I don’t push it much. I wasn’t much for team sports either, but that was because I didn’t have the natural talent others did. It took me a lot longer to learn how to catch and throw than my peers and coaches were not that patient.

    I did much better with individual sports, where I could take my time (slow is smooth, smooth is fast). Especially when it came to martial arts, where I had a strong motivation to get good at it (to make the bullies seriously weigh the pros and cons of trying to get physical with me again).Report

  6. Avatar lyle
    Ignored
    says:

    Way back when school tests did not pick up my near sightedness. My parents detected it when we went to NYC to pick up my grandparents from a cruise and I could not see the letters (first letters of last names where folks congregated) So it was to the eye doctor right away, but of course this was 6th grade so I had by then given up on sports.Report

  7. Avatar Maribou
    Ignored
    says:

    (By the way, Em, I loved this piece. Agreed about the lesson part, and appreciate your willingness to be so open about it.)Report

  8. Avatar Mark Van H
    Ignored
    says:

    It is difficult sometimes to know something isn’t right with eyesight when the kid in question doesn’t know there is something wrong.

    I had a lazy eye as a small kid. Eye patch for a while and two years of corrective glasses at which point the doctor thought that it was sufficiently treated that it would go away of itself.

    Which it didn’t. But I never noticed there was something wrong because it was my normal and it wasn’t really visible from the outside so my parents didn’t notice either. I only found out there was such a thing as double vision and it wasn’t normal when I had a eye test for my driver’s license and couldn’t pass.

    For which I will still blame my parents every time I have to sit three hours on public transport to visit them.Report

  9. Avatar gabriel conroy
    Ignored
    says:

    Somehow I missed this post when it first was posted, but it’s quite good and insightful. Thanks for writing it.

    On mostly a tangent, I played little league for two years and hated it. There were a lot of reasons, but one reason was that I could never hit the ball. I got a few foul balls and maybe one or two air balls that were quickly caught, but never one bona fide hit that got me on base. The reason wasn’t my eyesight, or even that I was afraid of the ball (even though I was afraid of it). It was, I now believe, that even though I write left-handed, I can’t bat left-handed. The (very few) times I’ve played just-for-fun games, and chose to bat right-handed, I had a much better chance at hitting the bat. For some reason, my coaches never thought to suggest I change hands. That would probably not have made me like the sport any more, and I still would have been afraid of the ball, but I wouldn’t have been the “easy out unless you hit him or get four balls” person.Report

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