Saturday, May 8, 2010

Raising Small Children - Part Three

One of my sons is color blind. Not What’s-His-Name, but The-Other-One. Basically, he cannot differentiate between red and green, most of the rest of the colors are not really great either.

My wife and I discovered this at one of those interactive museums where the children are allowed to touch the exhibits and play with anything they want. Along one wall there was a collection of pictures, each a weird pattern of colored dots that revealed a number. If your vision is normal, you saw one number. If not, you saw another.

Here is an example of what I am talking about. If your vision is normal, you will see the number 70. Those with red/green color blindness will see the number 29.

Looking back, this really shouldn’t have surprised us that much. For years, we had allowed him to pick his own clothes out for school, and most days he left the house looking like something Walt Disney would dream up if he dropped acid. Let’s just say his clothes clashed.

His socks rarely matched, but so what? He’s male. Hell, I looked down one day in class and discovered my shoes didn’t match.

And I remember telling the boy on more than one occasion not to eat a green banana. Trust me; don’t let color blind people pick out your produce.

Somehow, even with all these hints, we didn’t know he was color blind and naturally, neither did he. I was shocked and he couldn’t have cared less. I guess you can’t miss what you don’t know.

As he got older, his being color blind was obvious. One day he was mowing the grass in the front yard and ran the lawnmower over a large piece of red cellophane. It might have been the wrapper off a box of chocolate. Instantly, there were several hundred pieces of red confetti all over the green grass. Since the little bastard had run over it on purpose, it seemed only fair to make him clean up the mess, and it was the kind of mess that you could see a block away.

You could see it a block away, unless, of course, you were color blind. I couldn’t make him pick up the little pieces of red plastic, because it was impossible for him to find them. Thankfully, we have two sons; I made What’s-His-Name do it.

Still, as the father of a color blind child, I knew my duty. Immediately, I started teasing the crap out of him. I missed not a single opportunity to make fun of him, tease him, or taunt him. Obviously, I did this for his own good, since I knew other kids would tease him at school and I wanted him to be immune to this. Besides, it was fun.

It turned out, however, that being color blind has its own rewards. Did you know that color blind people are practically immune to camouflage? This ability to see things that are trying to hide may be the evolutionary explanation why there seem to be so many people with red-green color blindness. Maybe thousands of years ago, these were the best hunters.

I got a great first hand exhibition of this several years ago. I decided to install a camera to watch the pool from an ivy covered wall on the patio. The camera was tiny, and several times while running the wiring, I “lost” the camera and it took me a while to locate it again among the ivy. A small black camera hidden in the dark spaces between the green leaves is invisible. To most of us, anyway.

When I finished, I sat down with a beer to admire my work. The-Other-One walked up and almost immediately asked, “When did we get a camera?”

I still tease him about his shirts, but to tell the truth, sometimes I wish I could borrow his eyes for a while. It would be interesting to see the world as he sees it. And I could let my wife, the Doc, pick out my shirts.


  1. Hey I read 29 and I can differentiate between red and green. Did you mean 70? By the way, please check your nmsu email for I'm one of those basterd (literally) students who's asking for an extension. I read your regrets blog too and boy can I relate.


  2. What? Are you accusing me of deliberately reversing the numbers for the test just to confuse readers? No way!