Life Lately: San Francisco, and a Very Low Parenting Moment

The day before we flew out, I had the 4th eye appointment for Lila to get her eyes tested. I keep trying to get her eyes tested because she needs glasses (she squints at things when they are a few feet away), but she would never cooperate with the testing- won’t look at the images or charts, won’t look through lenses, won’t look in the phoropter, would immediately begin having a tantrum if the optometrist came anywhere near her with tools.  But this new optometrist was amazing- even thought Lila had a fit and we had to go back out into the waiting room (and have a couple time outs in the hallway, as she was screaming down the place), the optometrist had us wait until the other patients were finished, then turned off the lights in the waiting room, then used her own cell phone to pull up a video of Bubble Guppies and gave us some small, separated lenses to try with her and see what worked, and we actually got somewhere- the optometrist figured that her prescription was  in the ballpark of +3.50 (for those of you who wear glasses, you will understand what I mean when I said that this kid really needed glasses). It may have taken a couple of hours, but by the end I was brandishing an actual prescription for Lila.

Not wanting to lose momentum, we went to Walmart optical (thinking this would be a cheap place to get kid glasses that were a ‘close-enough’ approximation of her prescription). Lila said she wanted purple glasses, so I figured this would not be anywhere near the hysterics we had at the optometrist. But I was so very, very wrong. She was happy enough to play with the various purple glasses, but the optician said that she needed to take an additional measurement, which would involve holding a ruler up to her eyes and measuring the distance between the outer corner of one eye and the inner corner of the other. I winced.

Me: “Are you sure you need the measurement? She’s really not cooperative when it comes to the eye testing stuff.”

Her: “We definitely need to have it, we can’t fill her prescription without it.”

But Lila would not let the optician anywhere near her face with the small plastic ruler. She shrieked “NOOO!” and started getting really worked up with yelling and crying, and we took her off to the side and talked to her about how we were going to get ice cream afterwards if she let the nice lady hold the ruler near her nose, and look at this super fun soccer ball we brought with us! Then she’d calm down enough so we could go back over to the optician, and then the whole thing would happen all over again. Then the optician gave us the ruler, thinking we would have an easier time, but by then Lila knew how badly we needed to hold the ruler near her face, which in toddler logic meant it was a life-or-death situation that she prevent us from getting this ruler anywhere near her. After much wailing and trying to corral her, Guy and I agreed that one of us would have to hold her down and the other would take the measurement.  Now I don’t normally think this is a great way to go about things, but Lila’s stubborn streak extends far beyond just a few hours or even one day, now that she knew we needed to do the ruler thing, she would never let it happen. Not today, and not tomorrow, and not a week from now.  I’ve been trying to get her eyes tested since she was 6 months old, I know how deep her resistance to eye tests runs.

So we held her down while she screamed like a banshee and I tried to hold her head still while she fought and struggled and we tried to get an accurate reading on that stupid ruler. Finally, we got it, and Guy went off with the ruler to talk to the optician, and Lila stopped crying 5 seconds later and went back to playing with a soccer ball as if nothing had happened. But I felt awful. There is no version of this story where I feel fine with using physical force to hold my child down, even if it was for her own good. Like maybe if I were a better parent, I’d magically know what to say to get her to cooperate. We  had spent weeks with a great pop-up book getting her used to the idea, and telling her over and over again how great glasses were…. but in the last three hours every moment had felt like a struggle trying to do the right thing. I could feel tears welling up and I thought to myself, ‘I can’t cry. I’m sitting on the floor of a Walmart optical center, I can’t cry here.’

And there it was- the final thing I could not bear. It was only noon and the day had already reduced me to sitting on the floor of a Walmart optical physically holding my screaming toddler down to hold a ruler in front of her face AND do it for the packed Saturday audience of all the Walmart checkout counters –seriously, are there any Walmarts where the optical center isn’t right by the checkouts?–AND apparently being pregnant means crazy hormones and stuff so I was possibly not starting from the greatest position of strength…. I cried. Big, shoulder-shaking sobs. Sitting right there on the floor of a Walmart. Hiding behind the optical counter, but still sitting on the floor of a Walmart, crying.

Oh, and I didn’t have any tissues in my purse. The closest thing I had was a pair of clean toddler socks. I, a grown woman, had to wipe my face with toddler socks. Because I was crying so hard. On the FLOOR OF A WALMART.

I probably don’t need to mention that when we left our darling daughter with my parents the next morning, I didn’t feel a drop of parental guilt  as we headed out to the airport to take a 4-day vacation. I had never needed a vacation so badly in my life.

San Francisco |

Guy and I had a wonderful time in San Francisco! It was our first time getting away just the two of us since Lila was born, and I was amazed at how easy it felt to be just the two of us for a little bit. There was a moment when we were sipping tea in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park  (seriously one of the biggest and most amazing outdoor space I’ve ever been in) and someone else’s toddler was kicking off loudly while an exhausted-looking parent had to drag them back from the edge of a koi pond, and Guy and just smiled at each other. Someone’s toddler was screaming and it wasn’t ours!

San Francisco |

I also got to meet some fabulous knitters at Atelier Yarns, including Alana Dakos of Never Not Knitting / Botanical Knits fame. I absolutely love meeting other knitters, so it was super fun to relax and chat in a cozy yarn shop and get that face to face (and yarn to yarn!) time in.

San Francisco |

Renee (Confessions of a Yarn Addict) knitted the forthcoming baby Bliss a wonderful little green hat, and Alana knitted some super sweet moccasins. I love how both can work for either a girl or a boy! I will take some modeled shots in December when the wee babe will be out in the world and ready to get cozy in some wooly goodness. Oh, and I did buy some yarn! More on that to follow soon.

Also, I spent a lot of time in some bakeries, notable Tartine and Mr. Holmes Bakehouse:

San Francisco | knittedbliss.comSan Francisco |

We also got to do something that has been on my bucket list for a long time- we took a hot air balloon ride! Those of you who follow me on Instagram no doubt saw some of those photos. It was over Napa Valley, and it was absolutely breathtaking. Apparently a lot of people are scared of heights, but if you are not, then I highly recommend- it was so peaceful, so beautiful. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

San Francisco |

One of the things I most wanted see was a bit of a wash- the sea lions at pier 39. I love seeing animals in the wild (as opposed to zoos). Normally it’s supposed to look like the picture on the left (promotional photo) but when we went, it looked like the picture on the right (my photo).

San Francisco |

Apparently all the sea lions go somewhere else when it’s calving season, so since they were off having babies, there were just a few dude sea lions that would pop up now and then. Hardly the pier-ful of sea lions I was hoping for. Four days flew by in a blur,  there are a million more photos I could share, but I’m sure we’ve all got stuff to do today.  I’m just grateful for the time to reconnect with Guy and recharge our batteries.

San Francisco |

When we got back from San Francisco, there was a voicemail from Walmart optical, letting me know the glasses were ready for pick up and I should schedule an appointment with the optician so that we can have them properly fitted to Lila’s head. When I called back, I said I’d be picking up the glasses alone and we would do the fitting another day. She insisted that the fitting was crucial, to which I replied, “I don’t know if you were working last Saturday, but my daughter is really not cooperating on this whole glasses thing. I’d prefer to just pick them up.”

Silence. Then she said,”I was working last Saturday, I remember you. Absolutely, you can pick them up anytime.”


  1. Lari   •  

    You have a full life and a life full these days – thanks for sharing – I have run your full gamut of
    emotions with my coffee.

  2. Susan Boe   •  

    Bless your heart, twenty years ago I was just where you are. I too have a lovely smart strong stubborn daughter. I was just sure on one particular outing that I would be arrested in the Wal Mart parking lot because of my daughter’s deafening screams. All I was doing was putting her in the car seat after purchasing Barbies and Play Doh!!!!!!! Hang in there. She is now the most lovely, responsible, caring college girl. And was even a super delightful teenager. I tell young Moms, suffer now or suffer later. I would rather tame a toddler than a teenager. Although she is still very stubborn it has been channeled into positive things. Like saying NO to bad influences in high school and never settling for making a B in a class. Lots of love and patience, it will get better.

  3. Lulu   •  

    Julie, give yourself a break. It may have seemed life and death to Lila, but had it really been, you would have held her down or let medical staff do it without hesitation. And glasses are a medical necessity for her development. She did what toddlers do. Been there. You’re great.

  4. Chris   •  

    Children are exhausting no matter what age. You didn’t hurt your child but did what was best for her.

  5. Jane   •  

    Wow, that glasses saga was hard just to read about! Children are remarkable in their ability to decimate your sense of competence . . . I’m sure you already know, but I will say it anyway – you are clearly an awesome mom, and Lila is lucky to have you 🙂

    The vacation sounds lovely, and well-deserved!

  6. Andrea   •  

    That San Fransisco trip came at just the right time! We’ve all been there with the toddler drama!! D has definitely had his wild banshee moments. You did everything right and toddler stuff can still go wrong oh so quickly.

  7. miss agnes   •  

    I truly can understand what you went through. My little boy was worse when it came to dentists appointments or blood tests. At one time, they had to be three on him: one nurse and his dad holding him to the chair, and another nurse to do the blood sampling. Same thing for when teeth had to come out. He was in pain with a barely holding baby tooth and I had to restrain him while his dad gently removed the tooth. You do not hurt your child when you restrain her. Toddlers need limits and sometimes limits are physical. The whole cooperation thing is a nonsense: you are the mother and you know better, and stop worrying about what other people think. Remember: the age of reason is 7 years old. Before that, children have to be told what to do, and toddler tantrums are a way for them to test limits. Sometimes this limit is a physical one, which does not mean you are a bad parent. You are simply the one telling them what to do, which is how it should be. Take courage, when they turn three, they are little angels again, until the fearsome four. Good for you for taking some time off and releasing the pressure, your vacation looked like a great one. You do need to get away from kids every now and ten, for sanity reasons, no matter how much you love them. 😉

  8. Melissa   •  

    Oh dear. I remember a similar toddler moment (with my now 11 yr old son) in a grocery store. I left my basket full of food, mid-aisle and we just headed for the car and home. Give this memory a few years–or 10!–and you may feel better about it all. Though the toddle sock-tissue is pretty adorable (in the abstract). SF sounds like it was a blast–I think we may have been there at the same time! We drove up the coast a ways and yes: the sea lions were all laid out on beaches and rocks with their babes, warming up in the sun 🙂 Glad you had a lovely time in the city! And best of luck with the new glasses!!

  9. Jesse (SplitStitch)   •  

    Oh, I cannot even imagine how overwhelming it must have been in Walmart. You’re clearly incredible parents, and sometimes parents just have to do what they have to do. Your get-away looks like it was amazing, and the perfect respite!

  10. Alina   •  

    Oh Julie,

    I am so feeling your parental low! My daughter had to strapped to the board with velcro straps with a nurse holding her head so that ENT could take care of cleaning her ears (she has hearing loss and wears hearing airs which ramps up hear ear wax production to the point where it totally blocks her ear canals). While all the staff at Sick Kids were amazing, I could not help but feel as though I am allowing them to violate my baby. So crushing.

  11. Heather Ricco   •  

    Oh, I am so sorry about your experience. Don’t beat yourself up about it though. When my daughter was two months old, we had to go for multiple sleep studies with her (she was diagnosed with central sleep apnea and had to be on oxygen for a little bit, but she outgrew it). With a sleep study, they have to put all the wires and leads on them, and they kind of glue the stuff to their heads and bodies. Babies don’t really appreciate this. She screamed and cried, and I had to hold her down to help the people who were doing the sleep study. Of course I felt like the worst parent in the world (even though this really was for her own good). Something the nurse said struck me though, and made me feel a bit better (I think she saw my face and that I was about to start crying). To my daughter, she said “You go ahead and scream at us all you want sweetie, and then you come back and see me in a few years when this is over and you’re growing up big and strong”. That actually made me want to cry even more, but as a parent it did make me feel better. It’s not that we want to do these things to our kids to torture them, but that we’re just trying to ensure that the grow up safe and healthy. It’s important to remember that when you’ve got to force your kid to do something that they really don’t want to. (Like getting measured for eyeglasses – we have been there too, I feel your pain). Stay strong, you’re a good mama for doing this, your daughter will have a much easier time in school (learning to read, for instance) because you were rightly concerned about her eyesight.

  12. Onkuri   •  

    Ah toddlers! I will always remember the time I was staying at a friend’s place and her 3-year old had a screaming hysterical fit because he crawled under a woven cane chair, and wanted all the adults in the house to sit on the chair one by one so he could poke their butts through the seat, and no one would oblige him. The rest of the time he was a sunny, happy, intelligent kid.

    Don’t worry about your experience, as others have pointed out above, toddlerhood is the time to test limits and see what they can get away with; but children are ultimately happier when they know what the limits are. I’m sure you are wonderful parents, and part of being a good parent is to do what is good for your child, even if they occasionally need to be wrestled into it 🙂 (Also, wait till she’s a teenager and insists she doesn’t feel cold!)

  13. Alina   •  

    Dear Julie! I truly admire how you juggle all the life responsibilities that you have! Family, work, blog, pattern writing! You are my role model, and I am serious here! I am so glad you got a much needed break and had such a great time! All the best!!!

  14. Monica   •  

    Oh Julie, I can SOOOOO relate to this story. It is always amazing to me just how stubborn and persistent kids can be when it comes to certain things. Combine that with pregnancy hormones and it’s practically begging for a good cry on a Walmart floor, complete with socks for a tissue. I feel for you, and I’ve been there…
    San Francisco could not have come at a better time….it looks like you had an amazing time. I have always dreamed of taking a hot air balloon ride, Napa seems to be a perfect spot for it.
    Stay strong!

  15. Loulou   •  

    I love seeing your happy faces in your holiday pictures. Looks and sounds like it was a wonderful time. Good for you!

    I’m sorry that you’ve been having such an ordeal getting Lila some glasses. Hopefully they fit her and she has recognized the joy in being able to see well with them on. I wish I’d been in that Walmart, there to offer you a package of tissues and a supportive shoulder. I’da gotten down on that floor with you, my friend.

  16. Deb White   •  

    Okay, I’m going to give you “mom” advice, the same kind my mother gave me when I had a toddler. Guilt is normal. It is part of being a mom. Being overwhelmed is normal. It is part of being human. And you don’t always have to be the strong super mom (being like that all the time is not normal). And the days your child will make you cry are not over. But don’t beat yourself up. What you want to teach your child is real stuff. Sometimes you have to do stuff you don’t like. Everyone does. Advocate for your baby. You do that naturally. Take a break with your lovely husband. Forget the crappy days.
    Ok, advice over!!! I have a 17 year old daughter, and I have to remind myself of this advice, too!!!

    • Tamera   •  

      I absolutely second this advice! We are all cheering you on, and not one of us expects you to do anything except try your best (which you did, flawlessly).

      Being a parent is tough. EVERYDAY. But it is also amazing and full of tiny joys, everyday.

      Hang on to the joys and try to remember that in the end, they matter a whole heck of a lot more than the days where you feel like any minute, someone is going to walk up and award you with a Worst Mom Ever trophy. (Don’t fret, most days that trophy lives at my house!)

  17. Corinne   •  

    Wow, that sounds like a very intense experience with fitting the glasses. I hope they fit her now and that she can wear them without having to have them adjusted again. I love all your photos as usual…

  18. Keren   •  

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I don’t have kids (only cats) and I felt terror about what you were going through and relief (that it wasn’t me that had to deal with it). The sock tissue part and the last part were funny! I heard once that children’s brains as they develop have these crazy states where they’re screaming murder and then they’re fine as if nothing ever happened. There’s some actual normal neurological reason for it. If that helps any. For what it’s worth I think you did well, even though you felt bad about it, it wasn’t harmful and it was necessary. I guess parents can’t have it easy all the time and neither can kids.

  19. Oh honey. I have so been there with my toddler. I imagine it was the pregnancy hormones that brought you to tears. Although I would have cried to and I am not pregnant.

    So glad you had a great trip out west. You packed so much into a few short days!

    I will look forward to seeing a photo of Lila in her new purple frames. Save those babies forever. You can taunt her with them in 35 years when she has her own children.

  20. Marcy   •  

    Anyone who is a mom can empathize with your “glasses” experience! When she needs a new prescription it will probably be totally different due to her age. Hang in there! Nice that you had a wonderful experience in SF. I live in the bay area and the Japanese Tea Garden is one of my favorite places.

  21. Erica   •  

    Oh man I totally feel you. My oldest turned 3 in June and I have a 3 month old. I started crying in the middle of the ID office a couple of weeks ago trying to get my military ID renewed (my husband is in the US Air Force). We had been waiting for over an hour and then when our number was called they told us we needed a form that wasn’t listed under the list of necessary documents. Seriously, why have a list of what is required if it isn’t accurate?! But mine was silent crying, with tears sneaking out while I just kept going about my business pretending it wasn’t happening. I’m sure no one noticed, right? Lol.

  22. Elizabeth   •  

    As someone who needed glasses from a very young age, just a warning: I got my first glasses when I was 4 or 5. They didn’t fit my head properly and my prescription was wrong, and they physically hurt to wear. I told my parents repeatedly and they ignored me, deciding I was simply being stubborn or bratty. They did not get me new glasses. I went something like 3 years without glasses because my parents thought I was refusing to wear them out of brattiness, not because they actually hurt my and gave me headaches.
    So I am begging you that once Lila has the glasses and is used to them, if she says they hurt her, please listen to her.

  23. Lynne   •  

    Oh dear girl…a big part of me wants to impart wisdom from a mother of three (now ages 13, 16 & 28, who were all strong-willed toddlers not so long ago :)…who has spent the past 10 years as a single mom with a post-divorce troubled son…but, you’re already doing what you need to do 🙂 You’re venting to a supportive & understanding audience 😉 You dealt with the moment at hand the best you could. You took a much needed breath with your sweet hubby & happy friends… and you carve out time for your fave creative outlet to refill your “loving patience & persistence well”. 🙂 Just one thought…maybe Grandma, Grandpa or Auntie could take honey pie to the eye doctor next time (especially if they wear specs too). It’s amazing how differently children behave when their parents aren’t within sight to twist around their sweet little fingers! 😉 Big hugs, love! xo Onward!

    • Anna   •  

      Lynne, this is spot on. I have a niece who was just a holy terror, total meltdowns every hour on the hour with her mom, but was completely cooperative in pre-school and kindergarten! So I would second your suggestion about letting Grandma or Grandpa take charge at the next appointment.
      Julie, hang in there! This too shall pass; toddlers grow up! My niece is now one of the nicest, most helpful and considerate pre-teens you could ever find, an absolute joy to her mom and dad. Not to say she’s lost all her “feisty”! She uses words now instead of screams, LOL.

  24. Renee Anne   •  

    Woo-hoo! There I am in photoy goodness (okay, so “photoy” totally is not a word but it’s a word in my head).

    I’m not looking forward to the day either of my boys require glasses. I’m horribly nearsighted (my script is something like 8.5) but Husband has slightly better than perfect eyesight (but he’s getting slowly “worse” over the years – he’s farsighted and finally is supposed to wear glasses full-time at work, which he doesn’t do). I’ve been in glasses since I was in Kindergarten. So far, it appears the boys are fine 🙂

    Good luck getting her into her glasses 🙂 I think once she’s in them, she’ll be okay……but I could be totally wrong 🙁

  25. zenitude   •  

    Oh, how I remember! In those difficult moments, I used to repeat to myself…that stuborness will be an asset some day…it will become determination and drive.
    Your trip to San Fran sounds perfect.

  26. Kat   •  

    Oh no! It sounds like your trip to San Francisco couldn’t have come at a better time. My brother is 11 years younger than me, and I remember one time when he was a toddler I was home alone with him and he had a meltdown-kicking, screaming, biting, throwing furniture-I finally had to shut him in the coat closet for a minute to calm down because I could not think of any other way to keep him from hurting himself or me! So sorry you had to experience that with Lila, but hopefully she’ll get used to the glasses and will become more comfortable with having people near her face/eyes. She is certainly lucky to have parents as lucky and patient as you and Guy!

  27. Elisabeth   •  

    Thanks for sharing both the glamorous and not-so-glamorous stories from your life. Lila is so blessed to have parents who take care of her health and development, even if she thinks it’s the worst thing ever. Glad you enjoyed your vacation!

  28. Christine M   •  

    Sigh. God bless the weeping mom. I’d have given anything for someone just once, to have told me I was doing it right and the kids are just fine! You came through it with flying colours. xo

  29. Kat Sklar   •  

    Hi Julie,

    It might be too late, but this tip comes from my mom the doctor (who dealt with me as a screaming toddler with severe vision issues in similar circumstances). Wearing new glasses is super disorienting to the brain regardless of age. Up until I was convinced of their merits (sometime around age 6, when my love for reading overtook my hate of glasses), she would always buy two sets of frames, one with the real prescription lenses that were a frame I really liked and one frame I liked less with just clear plastic frames. When I couldn’t deal with my eyes adjusting to the prescription lens, we’d compromise and I would wear the non-corrective ones glasses. According to her, it really helped me get over my reluctance to have things touching my ears and my face.

  30. Jennifer C.   •  

    Oh Julie, do not feel bad about this incident. Maybe it’s my nurse-side talking here, but it is really no big deal (as evidenced by her immediate bounce-back). There are so many times when you just cannot reason with a toddler, and I think it’s actually less traumatic to just hold her down (safely) and get it over with than it is to have her carrying on for an hour. She will be fine…no, even BETTER for this event, as she got her much-needed glasses. If it makes you feel any better, I recently bribed my 6 y/o with a kindle if she’d stop sucking her thumb (for the record, it worked 🙂

  31. Tahnee   •  

    So sorry to hear at the about the glasses incident, I can totally understand that the moment just got to you. But there is no need whatsoever to feel bad about it, you handled the situation as good as possible and did it all in your daughters best interest. And the trip to San Fransisco seems very well timed, it looks like you had a lovely time and a very well deserved break. Beautiful pictures!

  32. Alexis   •  

    Thanks for sharing your tough parenting story! Parenting is so hard, and no parent always has the magic words to get the kid to cooperate. Also, I’m glad you enjoyed San Francisco. I’m from that area (sadly, not living there now), and it’s near and dear to my heart.

  33. Wanda   •  

    When parents tell me stories about something they had to ‘force upon’ their kids because it was truly for the kid’s own good but they feel so horrible about it, I like to share that when I was very young, I was terrified to go into any water that was above my waist – I have no idea why, and the crazy part was that we lived near a lake and I loved to go there and play but I knew exactly where the water went higher than my waist. When parents (and other caring adults) would try to talk with me about learning to swim, I would scream and cry and have temper tantrums that cowered them all. So….. guess who is a 40-something-year-old who cannot swim, remains terrified of ever being in deep water, and yet loves to be near the water? 🙁 I have even tried adult swimming classes at the local YMCA a couple times, and still cant get through the fear (though no more tantrums). And yes, part of me wishes that some brave and stoic adult just picked me up back then and threw me in and just got me through it – because it WAS for my own good!! Ahhh… well. When Lila can actually see, she’s going to be a happier girl. (My vision is +3.50, so I KNOW she needs the glasses!!) And also, she’ll *see* how freaking adorable she is with her hip purple glasses. 🙂
    San Francisco – soooo lovely! I LOVE the Golden Gate park – did you see the dahlia garden in bloom? It looks like something out of Dr. Suess! I also went for the morning hot air balloon ride in Napa – and I AM afraid of heights! (See, I pushed through that fear and had an amazing time; just cant get over the water thing…) Great pictures, Julie, and it looks like you and Guy had a well-deserved adult vacation!!

  34. Katie Lynn   •  

    My cousin was on oxygen for several months after being born premature (I believe she was around 24 weeks, she was a little over a pound at birth), and has been wearing glasses since she was younger than Lila, so my family is really familiar with the whole glasses thing. Make sure everyone compliments her on them, and point out all the people around her who wear glasses. Especially if they’re people she likes!

    As to the whole measuring thing, I’m really surprised they were doing that with a ruler. I have been wearing glasses for most of my life, and I have NEVER had someone attempt to take my pupilary distance that way. Next time see if they can use an erasable marker on the test lens. It’s less stressful for everyone, she only has to look straight forward and they mark where your pupils are on the lens and then measure on the frame. Perhaps seeing her mom and dad doing it before she does would help, too.

  35. Brandy   •  

    I am not a mother – except to a dog – but I can say with all confidence, that I would have, in no way, handled a day like that any better than you did. Nor can I think of any way things could have come out better. Sometimes, there just aren’t any magic words because kids can just get crazy ideas in their heads and they stick. I still recall some of the crazier ideas that got stuck in my head as a kid and think to myself, “What was wrong with me?!” And take comfort in knowing that you are most likely not the first, nor will you be the last, to have a child throw a wild tantrum in Walmart. I am apparently renowned for the tantrums I would throw in Wally-world. It sounds like that vacation could not have come at a better time. I love San Francisco and it looks like your vacation was really perfect and lovely (even without those darn sea lions). If you ever make it to San Diego, there’s a great spot in La Jolla for watching harbor seals and sea lions, too. 🙂

  36. Susan   •  

    Oh man I am really sorry you went through that. I remember physically holding down my son down for his flu shot after he rain away screaming through the clinic, and while the experience wasn’t as long and protracted as yours it felt awful to restrain him like that. I have witnessed many, many toddler tantrums and I can say that will all likelihood she will grow out of it. Not that it helps now, but you are not alone and the people around you are probably more sympathetic than you realize.

    The socks part made me laugh, though. Hang in there.

  37. Linda   •  

    Julie, you are an amazing parent. It is because you are that you feel so upset about this whole episode. I am an paediatric anaesthetic nurse. I often have to physically restrain toddlers in order to hold the mask close enough to their face so they will fall asleep. The studies I have read (and there are many) all agree – toddlers do not like to be told what to do and and are perverse. Most of the upset comes from being challenged, rather than the actual event itself. So, when something like this has to be done, best just “get it over with” and don’t build it up with hours of talk the child won’t get anyway. The less made of it, the better – and trust me, they move on so quick it’s startling! Not many parents have the courage to do what you did – it’s one thing to do it in a hospital, it’s another to do it in a Walmart. I commend you for putting the needs of your child first and foremost – ahead of convention, personal turmoil and your child’s own confronting reaction. Bravo to you.

  38. Vivi   •  

    Riding in a hot air balloon is the biggest wish on my bucket list. As a little girl my favourite game was to sit in a laundry basket and travel to far away places in my “hot air balloon”. What a fantastically beautiful place to do it in Napa Valley. Your trip looked so awesome. Thanks for letting us travel vicariously through you. p.s. when I was little I called glasses “eye jewellery” and braces “teeth jewellery”

  39. Dianne Ross   •  

    Lovely post. Glad you both had a lovely break away. Only mother’s can understand your “moment”. I’m never sure if I should offer to help when I see a mother having a “moment”. When I do they usually say no thanks I’m O.K.
    We do survive but it is so exhausting.

  40. Peter   •  

    Aaaargh! As a now-retired Paediatric Dentist I spent a working life with kids throwing wobblies, even before I had to do anything for them. You two did great, believe me.
    And, to top it all, the way you tell it; I hate to say it but we haven’t laughed through the tears so much for ages. Brilliant!

  41. Silvia M.   •  

    Please don’t feel bad or guilty. We have all been there and it sucks and it hurts us more than it hurts them. Our youngest son needed heart surgery when he was a baby and there were a lot of scary and difficult situations where things needed to be done and procedures where he had to be held down and there was no way around it, and I could feel myself age.
    I’m glad you had such a good trip, it looks wonderful. 🙂

  42. Jocelyn Thurston   •  

    This post resonated so much for me. It brought back memories of raising my daughters; I’m pretty sure every parent has a moment or two exactly like yours. I remember using bribery at times and feeling awful about it. Also, my husband and I spent a week in San Francisco to mark our 25th anniversary. It was just the best place to visit. So thanks for this today.

  43. Christie   •  

    Your post made me laugh-cry… You know the kind of choky in your throat guffaw? Parenting is really hard; not for the faint of heart! I think it’s bloody well amazing that we don’t see parents having good cry on the floor more often!
    Your trip looks like a little slice of perfection. Well-deserved 🙂

  44. Catherine   •  

    What a crappy morning that must have been! Of course, for those of us without pregnancy hormones who didn’t have to deal with a stubborn, screaming kid, the story sounds different… you are a super hero who powered through a tough situation because you knew it was was your daughter needed AND you had the grace and elegance to be carrying something as clean as delicate as a toddler sock with which to blow your nose.

  45. Anonymous Coward   •  

    My family likes to tell this story every once in a while… Apparently I was a very stubborn child. When I was around 3 years old, my mom and I were walking home from somewhere. I insisted that the way home was one way, and kept trying to walk in the wrong direction. After a while my mom gave up trying to convince me that I was going in the wrong direction, and she pulled on my hand to get me to go with her, and ended up dislocating my wrist. She always says she felt so bad, like it’s the one bad memory of my childhood that haunts her! I, of course, don’t remember any of it.

    To me it seems like there was no other way. Sure, you feel terrible, but Lila probably won’t remember. Chin up! It’ll all be ok!

  46. Snow   •  

    Oh honey! Bless your heart! How quickly we block those ‘trying toddler years’ out of our minds-but I was right there with you. So glad you got to escape and enjoy your time away. Looks like you packed sooo much into your few days-what a great getaway!
    And needles crossed that once Lila gets to actually see the world through her new glasses, you may think the fairies swapped her out overnight. (3.50!! Yikes!!) It’s amazing watching the personality grow and change with better eyesight in kids( and adults).
    And purple glasses – I’m jealous. Great choice.
    Maybe she would like to pose in her favorite handknit with her new glasses (while you run in and out of the shot just for fun).

  47. Kim   •  

    Oh, Julie, I feel for you…we have not had an incident like this so far in public with our son, but certainly even holding him down so we can suck snot out when he’s had colds has been awful. 🙁 I’m sure you know, but you’re still a great mother, and though it can feel terrible there’s no shame, really, in crying when things are hard. And that sounded REALLY hard. I’m so glad you got your much-needed vacation.

    And, for what it’s worth, I remember having terrible, violent, melt-down tantrums when I was little (4? 5?) and at this point I feel grateful that my mother would just put me in my room to let myself cool off on my own (which usually consisted of me kicking the door while I screamed and cried until I wore myself out so much I went to sleep)…and I’m no worse for the wear. But I do keep wondering if and when I’m going to have to deal with the same behavior in my own child(ren).


  48. Bronchitikat   •  

    Looks like a great break, and boy did you need it. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

    One day it sounds as if Lila will be a strong-minded, independent woman, possibly with purple spectacles! In the meantime just remember that there are days, sometimes weeks, when a Mother’s place is in the wrong as far as her child is concerned! Been there, done that. Still do it on occasion and they’re around thirty, oops!

    How has the Darling Girl take to wearing glasses? I was a lot older when I got mine (about ten or eleven) but was so glad that I could see clearly past the books I was forever reading that I wore them no trouble at all. Does she value being able to see clearly? Or is she still being defiant because you want her to try them? Oh the ‘joys’ of having toddlers!

    The thing to remind yourself is, ‘It’s a phase. It _will_ pass.’ The next phase might be better, it might be worse. C’est la vie!

  49. Mary Jo   •  

    Believe when I say 30 years from now this will seem like nothing. My son is 34 this year. He was night and day different than his older sister. Both kids brought me joy but my son was a challenge. It was difficult to get threw some of his phases but on the plus side life was never boring.

  50. kingshearte   •  

    As the mother of no children, my advice to you is… Kidding. I have no advice. Just some empathy form someone who’s worn glasses from a pretty young age — although not quite as young as that, thank goodness. I was 8 when I got mine, so old enough to at least understand what was going on and that it would be helpful for me. I was still super not thrilled about the whole thing, though, and my parents were kind enough to let me not wear them to school until after Christmas (I got them around November, I think). However, when they arrived, and I put them on, it was like a revelation, and I quite happily wore them to school the very next day. I share this story with you in hopes that you have (or by now have had?) a similar experience with Lila. It sounds like getting them on her face in the first place is likely to be a struggle, but I hope that once you manage that, the results are so great for her that her resistance will fade away into awe at what the world actually looks like. In short, I hope it goes something like this, in case you haven’t seen it already:

  51. Jenny   •  

    A well deserved break indeed! It sounds like you did everything absolutely the way you should and only could have done, and from what I can tell (having no kids of my own) every one (adult and kid for that matter) has that thing that they will absolutely not abide. Really well done, and I’m sure she will thank you in the future when she can see everything better 🙂 thanks for sharing and I hope everything feels a little better now xxxxxx

  52. Diane   •  

    Been there. Exact same situation with the eye exam and glasses measurement. No regrets now though since getting his vision corrected really helped his behavior. I think a lot of frustration came from not seeing correctly.

  53. Bekah   •  

    Oh dear! Yeah – I was never very co-operative when it came to glasses, and I’m still not! Give me a trip to the dentist’s instead anyday! 🙂
    So lovely that you had such a wonderful trip with Guy though – I’ve been following along on Instagram, and it looked so relaxing 🙂

  54. Mary   •  

    Every toddler parent has had those moments. And honestly, sitting down and having a good cry is probably the best thing you could have done for yourself.

    In solidarity,
    Mary, mother of a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old

  55. Lee in KS   •  

    Sometimes parents have to do something for the child that the child thinks is “parent doing something TO the child”.. I hope this difficult time becomes one of those stories you remember as being a better tall tale than it was as an experience. As Mary said, sitting down and weeping was an excellent response. wishing you better days and calmer times. Lee

  56. Izzy   •  

    Oh you poor thing, I’m awash with pregnancy hormones too and I can’t imagine how hard toddler-wrangling is on top of that! If it makes you feel any better, according to my dad (with his paediatric psych hat on) boundary pushing in toddlers is a sign of well-established attachment and confidence that they are loved – it means they feel safe and secure enough to challenge their poor exhausted parents ;-p

  57. Laura   •  

    So glad you took a two-some vacay. Don’t ever feel bad about the date-nights and weekends!! The glue of your marriage is absolute gold for your kids.

    You will have awesome stories to tell when your baby gets older – our three teenagers love to sit at the table with our big Italian family after dinner and hear all the funny – but awful at the time – stories about them when they were young!!

  58. Ingrid   •  

    I’ve had the screaming toddler trying to get fitted for glasses. It sucks mightily. If it makes you feel any better, until we were able to invest in some Lindberg frames (which are completely repairable) , the half life of a pair of glasses in our house was about 3 weeks. Our older daughter used to punctuate the start of a tantrum with throwing her glasses off (even better if she could discard them from a height).
    My hot tips:
    – the pediatric opthalmology department of a hospital is often better at dealing with rambunctious toddlers.
    – we fed candy constantly at every appointment for the tiniest co-operation, and now at 12 she still expects it, and while it goes against our general parenting philosophy, we were able to get through the appointments more easily. I figure that the appointments were only twice a year, so the nutritional police weren’t coming to get me.
    – once you have the measurements, keep them in a safe place – you may need to order replacement frames online.
    Good luck!

  59. Sara A.   •  

    Sometimes you’ve got to take charge as a parent. I take this track more than I’d like, but I remind myself that if we always/only did the things she wanted to do, then nothing would ever get done, she’d run wild, hurt other children, she would have no manners, and we’d live in squalor. Complete parental override is a tool I reach for less and less as she gets older, but it’s a useful one.

  60. Amanda   •  

    I’d agree with Ingrid, go to someplace that specializes in children. It will make a world of difference even if it costs more. It’ll be worth it, if it reduces the tears and she likes who she’s seeing.

    Been wearing glasses since I was a kid. The fit does matter, it can hurt if it’s not fitted behind your ears properly or even on your nose bridge. Luckily, they do have frames that are flexible now to reduce the repairs 🙂 I’ve broken many frames, in many places over the years. I still get my glasses at the same place (costs more) but they are amazing with repairs and the fitting.

    On the bright side, at least she doesn’t need hearing aids. I have *oh joy*, they are much more expensive & prone to issues.

  61. Duni   •  

    Thanks for sharing. I’m sure there are lots of folks who appreciate this story and like to know they are not alone, just as you are not alone. So glad you enjoyed your vacation! Much love.

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