Then slowly we realised that the eye was turning more and more often. Yes, mostly when she was tired - but this was becoming more often too. We also realised that she was acting different. Angry, almost. There were tantrums (very unlike Emily), and lots of attitude.
We decided to face up to it ASAP and made an appointment with an ophthalmologist. We prepared Emily for this appointment with the "eye doctor" and she was excited. When we got there, she froze and wouldn't cooperate - or so it seemed. She'd be shown a picture of a flower and say i was a boat, etc. The ophthalmologist checked her eyes, said there was nothing wrong with them, advised that we work on Emily's concentration, and dismissed us.
We were his last appointment that day. He was out of the clinic before we had even paid for our visit. Something wasn't sitting well with us. He'd treated us like the village idiots. And anyone who knows Emily well will also know that she has an incredible attention span. It just didn't add up, but we didn't want to be the paranoid parents, so we made ourselves feel happy about it and tried to leave it at that.
It lasted a weekend. The turn was getting even worse, and Emily was covering her right eye to watch TV. When asked, she'd say she saw better that way.
We turned to a friend with contacts in the field and made an emergency appointment with a renowned ophthalmologist.
Within moments of looking at Emily, he said yes there is an issue. Relief mixed with fear rushed through me at that moment. I didn't want anything to be wrong, of course - and I wish nothing was, but I knew something was off, and didn't want to have to keep hopping from doctor to doctor to get to the bottom of it.
This doctor was patient and helpful. His attitude with Emily completely different and it showed - she responded immediately. She read him the letters this time, not pictures (!) and he was impressed with how cooperative she was. She sat on my lap through the appointment, in full concentration, and when the letters became too hard for her to read, she sunk into me and said "I'm sorry Mummy, I don't know it" My heart hurt for her, there was nothing to be sorry about, I said. This is why we came to the eye doctor.
It turns out she's extremely far-sighted. She'd need a +5 strength lens but her brand new (pink, of course) specs are a +3.5 for now, to be reviewed in February. On hearing she'd need glasses, I excitedly told her she'd be like her Nannus now. Very exciting to wear specs. She bought it.
Those were the facts. But behind it all, David and I were finding it very difficult to swallow. Our perfect little girl didn't feel quite as perfect any longer. It hurt on a level we couldn't quite understand. I blamed myself for her inheriting what is probably my poor eyesight, and for not noticing it earlier. We could barely look at her in her specs. I kept up the positive act when she was around, then she napped and I was in floods of tears.
I happened across a "support group" on Facebook, which was a lucky find - seeing so many pictures of littles in glasses (and some with far more complex situations than ours) somehow made it a bit easier to face.
As they promised me would happen, a few days on, Emily's glasses are already so much a part of her, it is becoming a little bit strange to see her without them. And I'm happy to report she's still my perfect little girl.
As for her, she initially didn't want to wear them. I began preparing myself for a battle of wills. Then, within half an hour of us getting back home, I overheard her mutter to Adam "Wow, I can see you much better now!" and that was the end of the battle. She now takes them off to change her clothes, or bathe, or other sensible reasons - and goes right back to put them back on.
And within half a day, the attitude had melted away and the tantrums ended. She became the happy, laughing child I knew her to be. Again, I felt a stab of regret to know how frustrated she must have been all that time and we never clocked it - but we did eventually, and it's still well in time to help her, and that's what counts.