Navigating our way around an eye test before hitting the road with driving lessons

Asian women with surgical mask and optometrist examining eyesight patient in optician office

My daughter's prescription had changed quite considerably: a new pair of glasses was required. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Vicky Ewan - forty-something mother of five, wife of one, and parish secretary/cook:

My daughter turned 17 recently and, magnanimously wishing to bestow upon her the freedom of the open road in her uninhibited youth - for that is clearly mine to give… -  I took it upon myself to procure her learner's driving licence.

Filling in the form, I realised that she would need to have her spectacle prescription reassessed, and arranged a sight test.

My elder daughter had offered to chauffeur us but was indisposed at the last minute - something I was not aware of until arriving home from work in the small time frame before the appointment slot.

Thankfully, I am named on her insurance policy, and I seized the keys.

As my daughter and I hopped into the car, our casual chit-chat suddenly revealed a disagreement about which opticians we were visiting.

Alas, a hasty consultation of the appointment confirmation email clarified I was the mistaken party.

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This error gave us scarcely enough time to reach the more remote premises and I was obliged to drop my daughter at the store, secure a parking spot, and then speed-walk my way back to discover she had already been granted entry.

Obliged to await admission in these Covid-conscious times, I obediently joined the one-person queue outside the shop.

An interminable age passed - probably three minutes - before a member of staff threw wide the door; I waited politely for her to accommodate the first customer's needs, then darted forward before entrance was denied me.

I imagine I resembled every concerned parent - resolute, focussed, and slightly unhinged - as I announced that my offspring was within.

Perhaps sensing my unease, the member of staff sagely invited me inside and dispatched a colleague to locate my daughter.

Indicating that I should follow, said colleague initiated a grand tour of the shop, peering unsuccessfully into consultation rooms and waiting areas, then, motioning for me to follow her, she bounded gracefully up a veritable mountain of hitherto undetected steps.

I started out strong in her energetic wake but was soon floundering, arriving belated and breathless at the summit.

A notion of vague disquiet stole over me as she strode fruitlessly from room to room; at any moment, I expected to see her speaking in low, urgent tones to someone in authority who would glance over at me, frown, and then steer me by the elbow into an empty room to explain that there was no-one present with my daughter's name, nor was there any trace of her on their database.

I was thankfully lifted from this conspiracy theory-based reverie when the staff member struck gold - my daughter was found!

She had just finished having photos taken - of the inner parts of her eyes, the images were compelling and disturbing - and we spent some time in a waiting area before being granted an audience with the optician.

The long and the short - sight, ha! - of it was that my daughter's prescription had changed quite considerably: a new pair of glasses was required.

We were directed to make a selection from a display of frames, with the instruction that any glasses handled should be placed in a tray, duly provided, for cleaning by staff.

My daughter modelled pair after pair, delivering each discarded frame to my questionable care along the way.

It was only when another mother-daughter duo hovered in the vicinity, engaged in the same task, that I realised how lackadaisical our approach was; within their tray, each rejected pair lay neatly nestled and placed in precise alignment, putting our higgledy-piggledy pile-up to shame.

Guiltily, I attempted to tidy our hoard, but my daughter was in the throes of indecision and all efforts were futile.

A decision was finally made - the very first pair selected, naturally - and, with glowing cheeks, I handed the tangled web we had woven to the assistant who, to give her credit, didn't flinch. I suspect a diplomatic blind eye was turned.

She efficiently recorded my daughter's frame measurements and issued instructions to return a week later for spectacle collection, following which my daughter's visual acuity would be restored.

Thereafter, the open road - and the world - will be her oyster.

Sadly, she won't realise this until looking back, wearing the rose-tinted glasses that come as standard at a certain age; but for now, as long as she can see clearly to drive, I'm happy.