My own pilot study: Microwaves’ effectiveness in increasing compliance with vision training

The solution was there, sitting in the corner of the kitchen all along. My microwave timer has saved patching. The  obtrusive but helpful-in-a-pinch black box has also helped salvage the vision therapy we do at home. Cue an annoying series of loud, celebratory beeps!

It makes sense. The only reason women endure childbirth is because we know that it will end in a few (okay, maybe 32) hours. It’s a relatively short timetable. This is why, at the Cape Cod Bay Basketball Camp, I managed to swallow suffering and push myself to the limit of heat exhaustion and muscle failure during drills on sizzling hot blacktop that threatened to melt the soles of my black Nike hightops. It’s how I now carry my giant toddler home from the park down the street, when we’re running behind which is always, even when my arm is about to detach and my grimace nearly devours my face. The end is in sight.

Over recent weeks, Stella did her best to refuse to patch. Which meant I spent all day trying to eek out small periods of patching in order to accumulate two hours’ worth. But last week, the answer suddenly came to me. I took her hand and led her to the holy shrine of now-passe cooking technology that is the microwave, and said, “It’s patching time. So we’re going to set the timer for 90 minutes, and when the timer beeps, you can take it off yourself!” I said it the way you would say, oh, “We’re going to Disney World right now. When this timer goes off, you can eat ice cream while riding the tea cups with Mickey Mouse!” As if Tinkerbell had cast a magic spell, Stella quietly allowed me put the patch on the glasses and place them on her face without any fight or resistance or complaint whatsoever. It has been working ever since. Trust me this is just as miraculous as, say, seeing Jesus in a piece of toast.

So yesterday I tried applying this super brilliant countdown strategy to vision therapy. We are currently only doing very physical, “vestibular” activities (spinning, rolling, etc.), and they go fast (you know, when they go). I turned into Jack Bauer, set the timer for 15 minutes, and informed Stella that we had to do four eye games before the timer went off. I told her this with the urgency of a counter-terrorist expert called in to thwart an impending explosion. Only my voice was much, much higher, more enthusiastic. It helped! Though by about 10 minutes, we were significantly derailed by someone’s whining and avoidance tactics. So, I’ll split “eye games” up into two 10-minute sessions, spread apart, and see how it goes. Aaaaaand that sentence shows clearly how such mind-numbing minutia has officially taken over my life. Hey, we do what works, and you’ve got to celebrate the little triumphs (our children’s and our own), right? RIGHT? [Insert guzzle of wine directly from the bottle.]

Please excuse me while I go high-five Stella and snuggle with the microwave.