Article Date: 10/1/2005

lessons learned
A Lesson in Addition
Our juvenile patients don't mince words.
JACK RUNNINGER, O.D.

What did you learn in school today?" the momma asked her first grader.

"We learned two plus two, the sonuvab**ch is four," he replied.

Highly incensed, the mother phoned the teacher to bless her out for using such language in her class.

"No, no, that's not what I said!" said the teacher. "What I told them was, 'two plus two, the sum of which is four.'"

Communicating with children ain't always easy. You may recall, if you were paying attention, that the March column was on this very subject. I apologize for doing it again, but the March issue triggered more interesting children episodes from other readers, which you might enjoy.

ILLUSTRATION BY AMY WUMMER

The unexpected

Many of the stories illustrate how O.D.s often get unexpected responses from their child patients. Indiana University student Jen Reynolds e-mailed an episode that happened during her pediatrics rotation:

I was doing a visual information processing evaluation on an eight-year-old boy. He was about one third of the way through a battery of tests and I was impressed at how well he was responding. To encourage the child I said to him, "Wow, you sure are smart!" He looked up at me and said, "Lady, I should be. I've been through the first grade twice!"

Dr. John Muellerleile reports the response from a seven-year-old to the after-image following ophthalmoscopy: "It sure takes a long time for the light to dissolve!"

He also tells of the techno-savvy five-year-old watching him examine the mother. Having looked at the 20/20 line projected on the wall for some time, the lad asked, "Can you change the channel to something else?"

Probably not

Dr. Paul Uslan had a child experience that he says almost made him fall out of his chair laughing, even though the mother did not seem to see the humor:

I had a seven-year-old little girl in the exam chair, with her mother also present in the room. During case history, I asked her, "Are you taking any medicine or pills?" "No," she said. "Not unless my mom is slipping it to me in the food."

And sometimes there's the perception that the optometrist has asked a really dumb question. Again from Muellerleile: Pointing to the 20/20 line of letters, I asked the small boy, "Can you tell me what these are?" With a pitying look, he replied, "Letters."

Similarly, Dr. Harris Dulitz told me many years ago of the five-year-old who, when asked what he saw as the acuity chart was projected on the wall, replied, "An eye examination chart."

Say what?

Other episodes involve misunderstanding. This one was the one reported by Dr. Terry Grammer:

I walked into the exam room to examine a seven-year-old boy I had not seen in three years. I said, "You've grown a whole foot since the last time I saw you." The boy exclaimed, "Dr. Grammer, I have always had two feet!"

Another Muellerleile episode occurred when a seven-year-old boy was crying while trying on frames in the dispensary. "We thought he was distressed about having to wear glasses. Finally he informed us of the reason for the tears: 'Everyone at school will laugh at me because these frames don't have lenses in them.'"

JACK RUNNINGER, OUR CONSULTING EDITOR, LIVES IN ROME, GA. HE'S ALSO A PAST EDITOR OF OM. CONTACT HIM AT RUNNINGERJ@AOL.COM

 



Optometric Management, Issue: October 2005