My daughter is fascinated with the story of my lazy eye. At its first telling, she imagined an eye that floated out of my head and was aghast and impressed all at once. She wanted to see me "do it," like a train wreck you couldn't keep your eyes off of. This led to the story of my first operation known as "my eye operation."
Growing up in a single family home, patience was scarce. I grew up with two straight forward phrases, "don't push it, " and "Kathy, fix your eye." At every prompt, I stationed my right hand two feet from my face and proceeded to hold one finger up and slowly but surely move it closer to my face until my eyes crossed. The exercise continued as I then moved two, then three, then four, and finally my whole hand to my face, which trained my eye muscles in some weird way, forcing my eyes to cross each and every time. Do me a favor; stop, and try this exercise. It takes approximately thirty seconds. Now, stand in front of a mirror and do it and see how you look. That's all I'm going to say about that.
My mom decided it was time to do the surgery to correct my eye; I was six and in first grade. I knew it was kind of a big deal because my dad flew in from California and Mrs. Gerstner, my teacher, read a book to the class about a kid going to the hospital to have surgery (that's when you know people are paying attention), but what do I remember most about this experience? The flourescent green and yellow Nikes I acquired from the deal.
"Don't push it, " usually followed countless harassing from my brother and I to have the latest and greatest toy or clothing item. Billy and I wore dull blue velcro Kangaroos that year. I had my eye on something else that I knew would seem ridiculous in mom's eyes: Danielle's Nikes. She trotted every day into class with utter confidence with these shoes on her innocent feet, and I eyed the glorious lace ups with envy.
My opportune moment came the day when I had to go to the hospital to have blood work done before the operation. What six year old isn't afraid of needles? I did not disappoint. Hot, salty tears streamed down my cheeks, slimy snot from my nose. We neared the hospital.
"Listen, it won't be so bad. Just a little pinch."
I could smell the brand new shoe box; the crinkly of the tissue paper. More tears. More snot.
"Ok, here's the deal: If you promise not to cry during your shot, I will buy you a special present; your choice."
That poor woman. She didn't even see it coming. Would it be a Woopsy Doll? No. Perhaps a Care Bear? Certainly not. Maybe a tutu. You couldn't even pay me.
"Good job, honey. You did it! No tears! So, what will it be? Do you want to go to Toys R Us? TSS?"
"No, mom. I want to go to the shoe store."
"The shoe store. I want some new sneakers."
"Ok," she replied tentatively with a hint of intrigue; she always up for an adventure.
Forty-five minutes later...
"Katherine Elaine, these are the ugliest shoes I've ever seen!"
"No, mommy. I love these shoes. I think they're cool. I'll wear them every day."
With laughter and trepidation, my mother agreed to purchase my neon Nikes. When I think about my daughter and the lazy eye, I laugh to myself, because my fondest memory was purchasing and wearing those crazy shoes.
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