I had been dreading Tadpole’s appointment with the optician ever since the day I scheduled it, back in September.
Psychologically scarred by our previous visit, during which I suggested to the optician that perhaps a kiddy straitjacket might be a worthwhile investment, I couldn’t help fearing the worst.
Has anyone out there ever tried administering eye drops to an energetic twelve month old? It wasn’t the first set of drops which posed a problem, although they did provoke an ear splitting squeal which was probably heard by every resident of the 20th arrondissement.
But the fun really started when I went back for a second attempt. And a third. And fourth. At the merest glimpse of the eyedropper, Tadpole screamed and clamped her eyes tightly shut. With one hand holding the pipette, the other attempting to pin her wildly gesticulating arms to her chest, a third hand was required to perform the prising open of Tadpole’s eyelids. But, being anatomically quite unadventurous, I sadly do not possess a third hand. In despearation, I called for backup, and left a frantic, expletive-riddled message on Mr Frog’s mobile phone messagerie. To no avail. Reinforcements were not forthcoming.
Forty minutes of toddler-wrestling later, one of Tadpole’s pupils was greatly enlarged (her eye not dissimilar to my own in a favourite photo entitled “petite outside the dance tent, Glastonbury Festival, 1995” in which my irises do not appear to exist), whilst the other remained a stubborn little dot. Eyedrops, mingled with tears, ran into Tadpole’s ears and hair, and dribbled down her clothes. Her protesting face was the colour of a beetroot. At my wits’ end, I vowed never again to brave the optician’s alone.
Which brings us to Saturday morning, 8.50am. Petite and Tadpole alight from a number 26 bus at the junction of rue des Pyrénées and rue de Bagnolet, armed with an impressive artillery of bribes (madeleines with chocolate chips, colouring book and felt tip pens, favourite dolly). We scurry past the Flèche d’Or, which I glance at wistfully (petite’s social life – R.I.P.), and arrive at the cobbled rue St Blaise, home of the children’s ophtalmologue.
Tadpole fiddles dubiously with the various grubby looking, paleolithic toys which populate the waiting area; I wrestle with my own sense of foreboding. A door opens, and the ophtalmo appears.
“Oui, c’est ma fille.”
“Et quel âge a-t-elle?”
I hastily count on my fingers. “Er, … 29 months.”
“Right, come on in!”
My jaw drops. “We don’t have to do the eye drops first?”
“No, she’s old enough to do an eye test this time…”
Brimming over with gratitude, I resist an overwhelming urge to throw my arms around the optician lady.
Ten minutes later, we are free to go, as Tadpole has successfully “read” the test chart on the wall, with only two minor hesitations, and one rather perplexing moment where the optician points at a picture of a flower, and Tadpole cries:
In the bus on the way home, I discreetly finger the untouched chocolate chip madeleines in my bag, with a smile of anticipation.