Something has been eating at me.
At my youngest sons three year check-up he was supposed to have his vision checked. When my oldest did the check, it was a chart that had shapes and boats and familiar silhouettes. They have since changed the layout of the appointment and they now do the vision check in the room with a book and some weird dinosaur glasses.
Here’s where my mom hackles came up, just a little and I became alert. Alert to the medical assistant asking questions and alert to my boys, both of them, and their reactions.
She pulls out the book and says, “Does he know his shapes?”
I didn’t want to put him on the spot but was pretty sure he’d been nailing shapes and even drawing and cutting some out of paper.
So, I said, “Sure, most of them. Can you just ask him the ones he knows?”
She then opens the book up to a page with circles, squares, triangles and I don’t know what else…And said to my bright and cheery three year old, “Here, these are easy. Let’s see what you know.”
Right there. There. My blood flushed to my face.
Do not tell my child that something is easy. Do not tell my child that something is hard.
Neither is a true statement and are not at all helpful, kind or in the least bit a contribution to anyone.
He looked and looked and I could see him start to wiggle. He was anxious.
His big brother looked on and whispered encouragement.
He really did know his shapes. I knew he did. I’d seen him point them out with confidence. I’d witnessed him ask about seeing shapes in real life instances.
She pointed to a circle, “This is the easiest one, what is this?”
From my now agitated soon-to-be preschooler, nothing. Squirming.
She pointed to a couple others. I then asked her very directly, “This is a vision test right, not an aptitude test.”
Then, I coached, when she just looked at the chart, “Wyatt, is that a circle? Which one looks like a round circle?”
At this, she shut the flip book and said, “Oh, well, it’s fine that he doesn’t know his shapes, he’ll learn them in preschool. We can do the test at his next appointment.”
No! No! No! I screamed in my head. I said nothing as I refuse to make scenes in front of my kids and I couldn’t gather myself enough to approach it with grace. No. Please, please don’t give up on him with an “oh well…”
The issue here for me is that he could have taken the vision test if coached. Just fine. He could have done it if she would have kept her trap shut about it being easy. He could have done another test with boats and cars and stars and other complicated shit. But, no, she gave up on it for some reason.
My oldest son got a 20/30 on his three year vision test and scored lower on his four year test. His vision got worse. I really wanted that vision test to gage if this second son would also have vision issues. And, I can’t for the life of me believe that my three year old is the first and only child to freeze up over shapes.
I’ve been sitting on this bur under my saddle for over a month now. I’ve wanted to call the pediatric office and mention it to them and request a vision test with freaking dinosaur pictures and yachts. But, I haven’t, still haven’t been able to calm down the thunder that built in me.
Does he know his shapes. Hell yes. He also knows numbers and letters and colors and feelings and emotions and social expectations and…I have no idea if he can see properly to learn any more.
There, that felt better. I think I’ll call on Monday.
Don’t give up on little ones. Don’t tell them that anything is easy or that it’s hard. Those are just stories we make up. Let them learn, grow and shine and encourage it. Wait for them to introduce the concept of difficulty and then coach them through it. That’s the best why to learn what they can actually see.