My daughter got glasses last year. She actually had what we now call an “academic makeover.” She got ear tubes, glasses, and medication and is making some great strides in school now which is exciting though it continues to be a gradual process. More often than not, we take 2 steps forward, 1 step back and there is always lots of heavy handed supervising by mom. But I have definitely lost some sleep wondering how long she was not able to see distances (like the board in her classroom.)
Kids generally don’t know when something is wrong because they’ve never known anything different. Unless something drastic happens—like a kid breaks a bone or something, most kids will just assume that “this” (whatever the situation may be) is how things are supposed to be—how it is for everyone…and until her “well check” last year, we had no idea something was going on with her eyes—especially the right eye. And of course, because of our psychotically litigious society, the bum right eye/ bum right ear combination led to an MRI to make sure that something wasn’t wrong with the left side of her brain—since two things weren’t up to snuff on the right side of her body. And of course, in the medical world, tests beget tests, and now we know for sure—brain wise, she’s fine, but definitely could not see past about 2-3 feet in front of her.
What was really fun was the actual diagnostic appointment with the optometrist because she utterly could not read the chart with the left eye covered (to the point where her sister thought she was kidding) and then when the doctor got her behind that special giant machine and switched those fancy lenses around a few times, suddenly she could see! It was all very exciting for her sister and me, (and her, I hope) and then of course, because she’d had the dilation drops, she had to leave in those lame looking, giant dark glasses which is always good for a few laughs. And she’s really good about wearing her glasses and taking care of them—very responsible little spectacles wearer. She did not wear them at all during soccer season though because she was petrified she would be smacked in the face with the soccer ball (hard to imagine that happening because she did a damned fine job of avoiding the ball at all costs and at all times) but you never know, I guess. So it’s safe to say that she really couldn’t ever see the goal or her teammates or her coach. Oh well.
The Pirate of Kindergarten tells a similar tale—of Ginny –who sees things a little differently from everybody else and doesn’t find out until her school’s vision screening that not everybody sees two of everything!
It is officially NOT a pirate story, but does tell a great little “girl power” story of a little girl who has learned how to navigate her way around the world even though she sometimes crashes into things trying to get to reading circle and can’t quite find the right ear on her paper bunny to color or cut—and most importantly—has to constantly remind herself to read only every other word she sees.
Lynne Avril’s captivating illustrations are spot on—depicting the world…the classroom—through Ginny’s eyes. The story is told entirely from her perspective with no self pity and no sugar coating. The simple language makes it easy for kids to understand and a great prelude to conversations with kids who have not just vision problems but any kind of special learning needs.
The great thing about the story is not only do we get to experience a happy ending for Ginny’s double vision, but the author also metaphorically suggests that we all see things a little differently—perception is everything! Whether you are in kindergarten or a full-fledged adult, it’s always a good idea to slow down and consider how someone else might be “seeing” any situation. Lyon effortlessly weaves the mini-empathy lesson into Ginny’s seemingly simple and ultimately successful story about correcting her vision!