That’s a blessing on days like today, when nothing that bad happened, yet everything seems awful.

The weekend was off to a poor start when I had to drag Jaden to his optometry appointment. Usually he can be convinced, or cajoled, or bartered into going along with what we’ve got to do, but not this time. The thought that he might need glasses has him freaked out and defiant. He refused to get dressed, we were late out the door and late to the appointment. To my surprise he did fine with the eyedrops, and the eye tests, but at the end the doctor said he needs glasses, and Jaden burst into tears. “I will not wear glasses!” he yells, sobbing despite not wanting to cry in front of someone else.

I’m confused by the whole glasses thing; he’s seen eye doctors regularly for years, due to another eye issue. His eyes were tested just in November. As Jaden cried I tried to get this doctor to explain if this vision issue is new, or if his other docs missed it. “It is not new, but it is latent,” the doctor said. Because of the other symptoms — problems reading mostly — they use these muscle relaxing drops in addition to dilating, and then gauge his farsightedness. He’s using eye muscles to compensate, so he can force things into focus, but it’s a strain on him. But when I have my eyes dilated everything gets completely blurry, I don’t think I can see with my own glasses in that state, so I don’t understand how they can figure a prescription.

Of course if Jaden puts on glasses and suddenly can see in a way he couldn’t, it will be a kind of miracle; it could make reading simpler suddenly. But first he has to wear them. And really need them. We were referred to this office to check his visual processing, to see if there’s something preventing him from reading more easily, and they found tracking issues, and recommended 4 months of eye exercises, once a week in their office and then nightly at home. This had Jaden apoplectic, that during his summer he would have nightly exercises, and the thought of having these nightly showdowns with him filled me with dread. Now the glasses have put him into revolt. He will not go, he will not pick them out or try them on. This afternoon, after feeling glum most of the day, I thought we should get out and let the dog run around and get some air, so I took him to a beach on the bay a few minutes from our house, a site of much previous happiness, but somehow Jaden was hungry, and I realize as we get out of the car that he’s not supposed to get his hair wet, since he got these twists Friday, and stupidly I’ve brought him to the beach where he loves to swim, hungry, no towel, not allowed to do what the beach is for. This has not been¬† thought out.

And I don’t know if he needs glasses or if the doctor knows what he’s talking about, and I’ve either let him struggle in school while almost blind, or am about to force him to do months of eye exercises when he’ll just grow out of it. The right path feels out of my grasp.

I’m a terrible parent, I think to myself, as I yell at him not to get wet and he plunges into the waves anyway. He’s joyfully leaping into them, crashing head first and doubtless unraveling his hair. It’s the time to let go and enjoy his abandon and pleasure. The day is gorgeous, any sensible person would give over to joy, but I can’t. I won’t. I’m so angry at myself, and so confused. And weary. I’m thinking about having to re-twist his hair (he really wants these twists, but hates having his hair pulled on), and having to force him into glasses, and exercises, and homework. How can there be this much opposition built into parenting?

I let him swim as long as I can, because I know it’s stupid to pull him out when he’s having fun, and whatever’s unraveled is probably done. I don’t give him as long to play as usual, but he’s finally somewhat ready, and comes out peacefully, and isn’t too cold (though it’s cold) and doesn’t fuss too much as I wax and twist back up the bits that have come undone. (“You know how to do these twists?” Jay asks, but luckily I’m my mother’s son, she watched the barber do my hair and figured she could do it, and she could. And so can I.)

Still, it’s such a relief when it’s time to read a chapter of Harry Potter. As he gets sleepy, I feel utterly worn out. But also grateful that tomorrow will be another day.