Several years ago in the early morning hours of Halloween, a baby appeared on the doorstep of my house. It was a rosy-cheeked thing, swaddled in blankets with a fresh slash across its forehead in the shape of a lightning bolt. Tucked into its wrappings was a stern letter that explained that the baby boy was my nephew, and that my husband and I were to raise him as our own. In the letter, there were also directions about how he should be raised. That last fact was just slipped into the letter as though it were nothing strange at all. But in the five years, my nephew has lived with us, every single day has been very strange indeed.
A little while ago I took my nephew to a Brighton optometrist clinic to get his eyes checked. It’s not something I would have usually done, but his poor eyesight was getting in the way of his ability to do chores, and we simply couldn’t have that. The optometrist was a smiling blonde woman who took us into a private room to conduct the tests. Irritatingly, my nephew was very interested in everything that was going on, and attempted to ask a number of questions before I could stifle his curiosity. Perhaps I ought to let him out of the house more often. Maybe on a leash.
Luckily, because we were conducting an eye test for children, it wasn’t very expensive and it didn’t take long. I went over to the glasses display cabinet and picked out the ugliest pair I could find. They were round with thin wireframes, and they made my nephew look disfigured. They were perfect. Still smiling that incorrigible smile, the optometrist asked if I would like to purchase a comprehensive warranty for a small additional cost. I waved her away. I didn’t need a warranty. If my nephew’s glasses broke, they broke, and he would simply wear broken glasses until he was old enough to purchase new ones himself.