Only Have Eyes For You
Anxiety fills the house: this morning Rebecca goes in for her operation.
I dont know why my palms are so sweaty. Women, I have recently
learned, have been undergoing this procedure for thousands of generations.
I remember when they put mine in, says Rebeccas mother, her face
aglow with pride. She has driven down special to be with Rebecca
when they put her under. Although in my day we didnt get to
pick the color. She turns her head and pulls back her hair.
I still cant believe what I see: two bright eyes staring at me from the
back of her head. The idiot doctor, she adds. He gave
me one blue eye and one green eye.
It all started a month ago during Skylars 12-month visit with his
pediatrician, Dr. Boynton. She asked Rebecca if she had scheduled
her operation yet.
What operation? I asked.
Dr. Boynton smiled gently, as if she had had to break this news to
hundreds of fathers before me.
For her extra eyes, the good doctor said tenderly. Every
mother needs eyes in the back of her head. How else do you think you
survived your childhood?
Her revelation held a mixture of shock, terror, and satisfaction for me.
I can remember the eyes in the back of my own mothers head quite
clearly, although I always had a doubt as to whether I truly saw them or
not. Mothers arent supposed to let their children see the eyes
for more than a disconcerting moment. I remember the first time I saw
them. My mother had made me really mad. As she turned away, I
stuck my tongue out at her.
Put your tongue back in your mouth, she said.
In shock, I obeyed her. But then I stayed up all night trying to
figure out how she knew. I took to spying on my mother. Id
play in the same room with her and then become very quiet, which always
made her nervous. Id sit motionless, staring at the back of her
head. And then Id see them open, briefly, as she checked on me.
Then theyd be gone again, so fast I had to wonder if Id really seen
them or not. Now I knew that Id been right all along.
We usually recommend mothers graft on the extra eyes around the first
year, when you really start to need them, Dr. Boynton had advised us.
She held Skylar up in the air, and he squirmed, arching his back.
She smiled, proud of this little man whose health she monitors.
Hes going to be a handful. You might want to consider getting
extrasensory ear implants while youre at it. Insurance covers the
eyes but youll have to pay for the ears yourself. It doesnt
cost all that much more if you have it done while theyve already got
you down for the eyes.
Dr. Boynton handed us a glossy brochure. I flipped through several
pages filled with colorful eye options, everything from an eerie
Beguiling Blue to terrifying Wrathful Red. There was
even a whole page of animal pupils to really freak out children. I
quickly skipped past the section describing how mothers could elongate
their arms or add extra fingers for when you really need another
hand. I finally reached the part that described the various
Super-Directional Hearing enhancements available. This
explained a lot to me, like how my mother knew when I would sneak off to
the other side of the house to get into trouble. Somehow she would
always be right there as I was about to set the house on fire or turn the
hose on in my bedroom. Of course. She heard me. She
Another one of lifes mysteries, solved.
I study Rebeccas face as we sit in the pre-op room. She is calm,
ready. Its as if she knew instinctually that this day would come.
I look around the waiting room. Two other couples are with us.
And, like me, the other fathers are nervous.
An orderly steps into the room and calls out, Rebecca?
Ive got to go, Rebecca says, standing. She kisses me
tenderly on the cheek and Skylar on the forehead. Ill be all
right, she says, noticing how edgy I am.
I watch as she and her mother follow the orderly through the swinging
doors. In a sudden panic I call out.
Do you promise you wont use them on me? I ask her, finally
voicing my greatest fear.
Rebecca smiles. She answers but the doors swing closed and I cant
hear her. Then she is gone.
I hug Skylar a little tighter as we begin what already seems like an
endless wait. He has no idea how our lives are about to change.