While we haven’t actually hit back to school yet, it doesn’t mean that all those things that we usually do at the beginning of the school year should be forgotten. For me, this means making those appointments to get teeth checked, furnace cleaned, physical, and usually a shopping trip to get new runners and jeans for my growing child. It also means a trip to the eye doctor. Now, I had to get glasses when I was twelve, my husband when he was nine. We both moved onto contacts in our teens, and in our thirties we got laser surgery. We had thought, as many of those who got their eyes lasered about ten years ago did, that laser surgery meant never having to worry about eye glasses again for distance vision. We knew that eventually we would need reading glasses, but thought that we were free of the dreaded bifocal which seemed to be plaguing our aging parents. Well, guess what? Laser surgery, while great for the first ten years, only lasts for… about ten years. I have to admit that I hadn’t really noticed my far vision deteriorating. I had noticed that I have to hold things with small print further away to make them out. I was ready when I walked into my appointment to be told I would need reading glasses soon. I did not expect that I was also going to need a prescription for distance vision as well. This meant the dreaded bifocal! I mulled that bit of news over while my nine year old son went in to have his eyes examined. I have made a point of getting my son’s eyes checked every year since he was three. Every year I have gone into the examining room with him and watched as he correctly identified the fish and the dog and whatever other shapes and animals that they put up on the wall when they don’t want to confuse eyesight issues with knowing the alphabet issues. This time I elected to sit out in the lobby. My eyes were still dilated from my own appointment, and though it should only have been my eyes that were unfocused and tired, my brain seemed to be having a hard time making things out too, so I thought a little quiet time with my sunglasses on in the lobby would be just fine, especially as I was confident that my son’s eyesight was just fine. When my son came out, instead of being ready to head out with a sticker in his hand, I was asked to come back and talk to the doctor. I was shocked to find that my son couldn’t make out the top row of letters. That he had been going along for the past year(???) in a fuzzy world that had no clear definition unless it was literally an arm’s length away. I was mortified. How had I let it get this far? How had I not known? Especially as his being nearsighted easily explained a number of issues he’d been having with attention, aim, and paying attention to what was happening at the other end of the rink. The craziest thing? My son kept telling me that he never knew that things were supposed to be so clear. He was so excited! A whole new world appeared as soon as he put on his new glasses. He couldn’t get over how amazingly clear things were and how far away he could see. He kept thanking me for getting him glasses. I felt, on one hand, like such a terrible mother for not noticing his vision problems earlier, and on the other overjoyed that he could see so much better now and how easy it was to correct. All it took was a trip to the optometrist. Twenty-four hours later my nine year old was exclaiming over the fact that there were individual leaves on the trees, not just a blurry green mass. The moral of this story? Even with school still out, make all those appointments. Yes, this means optometrist appointments for the whole family. This means furnace checks. And physicals. Dentist appointments, chimney cleaning, taking the dog to the vet for his shots… because those simple appointments that we do as a routine at the beginning of the school year serve a purpose – even if school isn’t in.