| LifeTakes |

A Patch of Compassion 

 “I’ll wear my eye patch if you’ll wear one too”

“Leah, your patch.” Nothing.

“Leah! We still need to fit in two hours before bedtime! Where’s your patch?”

Still nothing.

The chart is hanging on the fridge, all ready to go. It’s only seven squares long this time, and decorated with cheerful smileys and glasses. Not that she’ll be able to see it while wearing her patch, but still.

I already know that scores of waiting squares means an endless battle and few victories. Now we’re ready to do anything to get Leah to accept the task, even if this means a weekly prize.

“Leah!” I call again. “Your chart is waiting for your check! Remember what the doctor said?”

I pause, waiting. Were those footsteps?

Leah finally appears at the doorway to the kitchen. Her mouth is in a pout, and her beautiful eyes glare at me from behind her glasses.

“I don’t want to wear a patch.”

“I know,” I say. “But remember what the doctor said? How it’s important for your eyes so they no longer cross? And look, see the chart?” She glances at the fridge. “It’s only for one week at a time. One week! You can do this!”

She stomps to the drawer, retrieves the patch.

“Fine,” she says. “I’ll wear it. But only if you’ll wear one too.”

My mouth, working on automatic, is already forming a no when I quickly change my mind. I have a pair of glasses upstairs that I never use. If slipping a patch over one side will do the trick, then who was I to say no?

“Okay,” I say, certain I’ll be able to wear the patch easily.

My daughter runs upstairs to get my glasses, and I attempt to complete my grocery list.

Leah reappears much too quickly, and she lifts her glasses, which are already sporting her patch, to take a better look at my own pair.

“Leah…” I remind her.

Her glasses drop back onto her nose.

I slip a patch over my glasses and pop them on. Immediately, the sympathy I have for my daughter skyrockets.

For one, seeing with one eye is simply aggravating, especially since, like a good mommy, I covered my better eye. Second, the lashes on my hidden eye brush the patch each time I blink, and that’s so annoying! (The sticky kind of patch has its own faults, and we’d chosen the better of the two evils.)

And the worst part of it all? I can’t even complain.

I find myself bumbling around my house, thinking: Do I try to wink my covered eye for minutes at a time? Or do I keep my eye open to avoid having my lashes hit the patch? I’m hit with awfully dry eyes and promptly forget about everything else I need to do.

Leah is suddenly standing in front of me. She lifts her glasses to see me better and allows herself a small grin.

“Leah…” I say, and she drops her glasses back onto her nose. “Leah, I’m so proud of you!” I say this with all the emotion I can muster, and she appears gratified to hear those words. “Really! This is much harder than I thought it was!”

A small smile still playing at her lips, she disappears to rejoin her sister. I return to my grocery list but find it terribly bothersome to write with only half my vision.

Without thinking, I lift my glasses from my nose — and then drop them as if burned, looking around the room to see if anyone witnessed my lapse of judgment. The room is empty, my list is far from done. I add another few items to the lined notepad, and then, with another furtive glance around the kitchen, park my glasses firmly on top of my head.

Bad girl, I know.

My daughter doesn’t see me cheat, and I’m glad. I’m also glad I made sure to clarify beforehand that I’ll be wearing a patch only once — once!

The relief I feel is awful. It’s awful because I know my daughter doesn’t get that relief, that easy option to quit. The only time Leah lucks out is when we’re not on top of her patching, and even then, she and I both carry a guilt that leaves no space for true relief.

Tomorrow Leah will be checking off the last box on her second chart running. It’s only two weeks, yes, but I am so very proud of her.

Best of all, she knows it too.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 796)

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