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Last Thoughts (the Friday edition), Photography

Last thoughts: Renewal (the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge)

“I can see!” – My daughter gets glasses for the first time.

“So as long as a person is capable of self-renewal, they are a living being.” Henri Frederic Amiel

As always, the Friday Edition combines a quote with a favorite photo. I tailor these to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme, which, this week, is “Renewal”.

I honestly wasn’t sure what I could do for the theme of “renewal” for this challenge. After all, renewal is not exactly the first thing on your mind when you are heading into the season of bare trees and snow on the ground.

And then I took my daughter to the eye doctor on Saturday. And I discovered exactly what renewal looks like.

What you see above is the excited face of a girl who suddenly realizes exactly what she’s been missing.

My daughter has complained about poor eyesight for some time, but multiple eye exams always yielded nothing worse than 20/25 vision. However, the complaints continued.

There is definitely a precedent in this family for a need for eyeglasses. Although I have rarely used them myself–mostly for reading since I’m now in my mid-40s–I am the exception that proves the rule on both sides.

My parents both wear glasses, as do my sister and the younger of my two brothers. In fact, my sister got her glasses when she was about the same age as my daughter is now. My husband had glasses for many years, and would have them still, but for the skill of a certain LASIK eye surgeon up in Montréal.

It stands to reason that, in two families full of glasses-wearers, my daughter would someday need them as well. However, I didn’t take her complaints very seriously. Perhaps that sounds mean, but her middle name is “Drama Queen”. She tends to over exaggerate things, as some pre-teen girls do. For example, I always say that if she gets a paper cut, you would swear her arm was coming off.

That said, even though she’d had a pediatrician’s appointment where they checked her eyes just a few months ago, I did ask her school nurse to do an eye exam as well. The school test showed her vision was 20/40. That’s when I realized that it was time to go see the eye doctor. It wasn’t just preteen angst.

We chose to go to LensCrafters in New Hampshire, because that’s where my husband used to get his glasses over a decade ago. The people there are friendly, and since it’s the mall, there was plenty for my husband and youngest daughter to do while the oldest and I were in for her appointment.

Test #1: picking out 3D figures while wearing special glasses

If you’ll pardon the pun, the exam was an eye-opener. My daughter did not have to 20/40 vision. It was actually 20/70! It was a miracle she could read anything at school at all. The doctor asked, “Wow, how have you been coping all this time?”

My daughter answered, “I’ve been borrowing my best friend’s glasses in school. She reads something on the board then says, ‘I’m done, here you go,’ and she hands her glasses to me so that I can read the board, too.”

The doctor laughed and pronounced my daughter clever. She added, “Well, you’ll have your own glasses now. But you must only use them for distance.”

Testing one eye, then the other.

It turns out that studies done on young people have shown that wearing distance glasses for close-up vision, like reading, is actually bad for their eyes.

When she put on her new glasses for the first time, I was shocked at my daughter’s reaction. Her eyes opened wide, and she got a huge grin on her face. She started was waving her arms around in pure joy. She kept exclaiming, “I can see! Oh my gosh, I can see! I can see everything!”

“I can see!!”

She was laughing as she looked around, and the expression on her face was as if it was Christmas and her birthday and the first day of summer all rolled into one.

When we left with her glasses, I steered my daughter into the main part of the mall, and told her to take a good look around. She was squealing as she looked at all the things she had been missing. She was reading sign after sign, and giggling with happiness. Out of curiosity, I asked her to take the glasses off and tell me what she could read on a nearby sign. She removed her glasses, squinted at it and said, “Well, it’s blue…”

As we drove home, I told her to put on her glasses and look outside at the stars. She leaned her head against the glass, and gazed up at the night sky. “They’re so pretty,” she sighed.

One happy girl with new glasses!

For some kids, being told they need glasses is the worst news ever. For my daughter, it was as though someone had wrapped up the world as a gift, and presented it to her with a big red bow.

It turned out to be a very good night indeed.


About AlohaKarina

AlohaKarina (aka Karina Chapman) is a Writer, Photographer, and Educator who teaches middle school Science and Social Studies in Southern Maine. A cohort of the Maine Governor's Academy for Science and Mathematics Education Leadership, and a National Endowment of the Humanities Scholar (Abolitionism studies), she is credentialed to teach K-8 (all subjects) in both Maine and California. Karina has worked as a photographer, weekly columnist, and reporter for the Eureka Times-Standard daily newspaper in Northern California. She has also written for both and (as K.M. Chapman). Karina's superpower is speed-pouring killer margaritas. If she had to choose where to live for the rest of her life, she would choose Kennebunkport, Hawaii Kai, and San Francisco.


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