Well, we had an interesting little experiment at our house last night! Little Brother had purchased a new Nerf soccer ball in Twin on Sunday. He and Middle Brother were playing with it that evening at home when Little Brother started to cry. He said Middle Brother hit him in the head with the ball. When I asked MB what was going on, he said, "We're playing dodge ball." Eye roll. I told him I thought he had an unfair advantage and we needed to level the playing field. "What do you mean?" "I mean if you want to play dodge ball, you should wear a blind-fold, then you both would be matched." I was kind of saying it tongue-in-cheek, but he took me up on it and said, "OK, that'll be fun!!"
Instead of a blind-fold, I pulled out some swim goggles and put cotton in the eye-pieces and Middle Brother put them on. Then, Big Brother and Sister saw what was going on and they wanted to join in the fun, too. So, goggles all around. They couldn't see anything except light and dark.
I had been wanting to do this kind of experiment for a while and having it come up naturally worked perfectly. I told the kids I wanted them to keep the goggles on for the rest of the night as a new experience and as a way to appreciate what Little Brother deals with everyday. Everyone thought it was unique and fun in the beginning, running into each other and feeling everything saying, "What's this? Who's this?" But, it was more challenging when we needed to finish putting groceries away, put clothes away and do nighttime chores. Middle Brother remained pretty steady with the whole thing; Big Brother was irritated after the novelty wore off saying he didn't want to do it anymore, but after asking him to embrace the idea and see what he could learn about himself he really did a 180 degree turn. Sister, my very visual child, had a difficult time. Her emotions went up and down from being happy playing to crying in a puddle saying she couldn't do it anymore. She probably got hurt the most running into things. I enjoyed seeing Little Brother have the best vision out of all of them. It suddenly put him in the position of being the most capable. Kicking the soccer ball back and forth, Big Brother couldn't find it and Little Brother had to come help him. A real reversal of roles.
At the end of the night, after about 2 1/2 hours, while Little Brother was in the shower, we sat down and I asked the kids for comments on the experiment. I didn't want Little Brother to participate because I didn't want him to hear negative things about lack of vision. The kids still had their goggles on as we talked. Immediately Middle Brother said, "You get hurt a lot 'cause you can't see where things are." Sister said you had to rely on your ears to hear things and hands to feel and touch so you knew what things were, and that it was hard to be like that all the time. I brought up that it's important to keep clear pathways so you don't trip over things. Big Brother said how you have to memorize where everything in the house is so you can find stuff. We talked about how verbal communication and physical contact is more important because that's how you connect with each other and also how teasing or sarcasm can be misunderstood because you can't tell the person's facial expression. They were so happy to have their vision restored and I reminded them not to say anything negative about the experience to Little Brother because he can never take his "goggles" off.
I think the experiment went really well. The kids truly seemed to gain some appreciation for their vision and some understanding about how Little Brother has to manage his life. I was surprised how much easier it was for me when everyone was "visually impaired". Having children with differences in vision really makes me live in two overlapping worlds. My brain didn't have to subtly remember who can see when I hand them a cup and who needs to have the cup put in their hand. I'm not sure how to describe it, but when the playing field was leveled, I felt calmer and more peaceful. A good experience all around. We'll do it again in the future, but next time I want to do it in an unfamiliar environment. It's sure to be an eye-opener! Pun intended ;)