Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: ‘While I hate lying to him, that’s my job as a parent’
I end up carrying Leo in to the ophthamologist – even though there’s fock-all wrong with his legs
I leave a message on the old man’s voicemail. I don’t want to alorm the dude but I can hear the panic in my own voice as I tell him what’s happened.
“There’s no easy way to say this,” I go, “but there’s a chance that Leo is going to need glasses. We’re on the way to the ophthalmologist now. We’re obviously worried but we’re trying to stay positive. I’ll ring you as soon as we know more.”
Sorcha thinks I’m overreacting.
“Ross,” she goes, “you’re making a far bigger deal out of this than it needs to be? Oh my God, who are you ringing now?”
I’m like, “Ryle Nugent.”
“Why are you ringing Ryle Nugent?”
“He’s Leo’s godfather, Sorcha – he’s entitled to know.”
“Ross,” she goes, “hang up that phone right now!”
I do what I’m told.
She’s there, “You are totally overreacting here.”
Yeah, this coming from the girl who made a bucket list the day she found out she was gluten intolerant. Number 18 on the list was, “For however long you have left on this Earth, be the best you that you can be” – and I’m the one who’s overreacting?
He's the one my husband is clinging to like he’s the last life vest on the Titanic
She porks the cor and I take the boys out of the back. I end up carrying Leo in to the ophthalmologist. I don’t know why. There’s fock-all wrong with his legs. But I gather him up in my orms and I go, “Hang in there, little goy!”
The ophthalmologist ends up being a woman in her – I’m tempted to say – fifties? She’s, like, totally calm about the whole thing. She goes, “Look at you! Three lovely little boys!”
Brian’s like, “Fock off!”
And the woman is professional enough to totally ignore it. She goes, “So which one of you is having the eye test today?”
Sorcha’s there, “The one my husband is clinging to like he’s the last life vest on the Titanic.”
Number 12 on her bucket list was, “Meet Mary Robinson and read her the essay I wrote when I was 10, which proves that I was concerned about the future of our planet before it became an actual thing?”
The ophthalmologist goes, “Come with me,” and she leads us all into a dorkened room with a big, leather chair in it that looks like a dentist’s chair.
“Now,” she goes, “sit up there and we’ll get you checked out.”
Listen to Ross
I’m there, “And remember, Leo, just do your best. We won’t be angry with you if you fail – as long as you try your hordest not to.”
“Okay,” the ophthalmologist goes, “I’m going to ask you to rest your chin here, Leo, and look in through the two little holes.”
On the wall opposite him, I notice one of those chorts with, like, letters on it?
I’m there, “Well, the first one’s obviously an A. Then the second line is a T and a U – you can see that, can’t you, Leo? The third line is an F, a G, an M and an L. There’s nothing wrong with his eyesight. Thank God, is all I can say. Thank God.”
I end up getting totally ignored, though.
The ophthalmologist goes, “I’m going to show you a series of pictures, Leo. Do you see the little bird?”
“A focking bird,” Leo goes.
“That’s right – a tiny, little bird. And now I’m going to show you a cage.”
“Fock off, bird.”
“Can you tell me, Leo, is the bird in the cage or out of the cage?”
“Is the bird in the cage or out of the cage?”
I’m there, “I think we’ve heard enough. Come on, Leo, let’s go.”
Sorcha goes, “Leo, stay where you are.”
I’m there, “He can see the bird. He can see the cage. I’m sorry we’ve wasted your time, doctor – if it’s not too much of a stretch to call you that.”
The ophthalmologist goes, “I think it might be best if you waited outside while I test your son’s eyes.”
And Sorcha’s there, “She’s right, Ross. You’re putting pressure on him.”
I’m like, “He’s going to have to learn to live with pressure if he’s going to make it as an international rugby player,” but deep down I know that dream is dying here today.
“Ross,” she goes, “wait outside.”
So I have no choice but to tip outside to reception. The old man has arrived, by the way, with my old dear in tow. He’s bearing down on the poor girl at the desk, shouting, “I want answers and I want them now!”
Mommy and Daddy aren’t going to love you any less just because you have to wear those ridiculous things
The old dear sees me and tries to arrange her features into a look of pity. “We came as soon as we heard,” she goes. “Is there any news?”
I’m like, “It’s still too early to know.”
The old man goes, “What’s this going to do for his rugby?”
I’m there, “Do you not think I’m already worried about that?”
“The bloody nerve of these people! Glasses, Kicker!”
“Like I said, we don’t know anything for sure yet.”
“Of course we do! These places are in the business of selling glasses! Do you think they’re going to tell you that your son has perfect vision? Of course they’re not!”
The old dear laughs. She’s at least three fingers of Tanqueray down the road. “Oh, Chorles,” she goes, “do you remember what you did when that teacher person told us that Ross might need glasses?”
“That’s right,” the old man goes. “I took you outside to the gorden, Kicker, and I said to you, ‘Can you see the sun up there?’ You said you could. And I said, ‘Well, that’s 150 million kilometres away. There’s clearly nothing wrong with your bloody well eyesight!’”
“I know. You saved my very-nearly rugby career.”
“And you must do the same for your own son, Kicker! For the country’s sake!”
It’s at that exact moment that the door opens and out they walk. I notice straight away that Leo is wearing a humungous pair of glasses with lenses as thick as the bottle from which my old dear drank her lunch.
And in that moment, my hort literally breaks?
I go, “Don’t worry, Leo. Mommy and Daddy aren’t going to love you any less just because you have to wear those ridiculous things.”
And while I hate lying to him, that’s my job as a parent.