Four eyes

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Our four-year-old has glasses.

Our four-year-old. Has glasses.

This all came about rather unexpectedly. A local Lions Club offered free vision screenings at Ollie’s daycare and I signed off that he could be tested. Thinking, you know, cool! That’s very nice of them, thinking of the children and all.

Ollie’s results came back “refer,” meaning they recommended we take him for a full eye exam. And I put it off. And off. We had zero indication that anything was wrong . . . aside from the occasional squinting. He never complained about his eyesight or acted strangely. Of course, why would he have? Ollie didn’t know what “normal” vision was. Apparently he never has.

Our guy has a major focusing problem, and these new glasses — big things, with thick lenses … much thicker than I was expecting — are to be worn full-time. Hearing those words filled me with dread. This is a kid who never, ever stops moving. Who plays “the floor is lava” anywhere and everywhere, scaling furniture like an agile squirrel. I had immediate visions of a pair of glasses smashed to smithereens beneath a sneaker, trike, or toy tractor.

Mama got that insurance plan, I’ll tell you that.

After a week of daily “Are my glasses ready yet?” questions, we finally picked them up on Saturday. I’m writing this late on Sunday with a surprising amount of glasses-related relief coursing through my veins.

I know it is very early days … we can’t get all excited about victory yet. But Ollie has already taken to them much quicker and easier than I would have dared to guess. I’d asked his optometrist for tips about what to do if/when a kid refuses to wear their specs, and he’d explained that — after the initial break-in period, tough with any new prescription — most kids realize they are seeing through a new lens (literally), and wear them willingly.

Ollie is not “most kids,” however. He’s spirited. “Persistent” is an understatement. And when he decides he is not doing something, he is not doing it. No incentive in the world can make a dent toward progress. (See: potty-training. For years.)

But we’ve been pleasantly surprised so far. From the moment he slipped them on, his eyes as dark and wide as I’ve ever seen them, it was obvious that he was experiencing the world in a new way. Ollie was positively giddy, awestruck. I was reminded of getting my first pair of contacts after refusing to wear my own glasses for years: the world in sudden technicolor, each blade of grass alive.

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Ollie kept them on through most of today, even through some pretty active stretches. The only time he asked to take them off was when he was eating pizza, so he “wouldn’t get sauce on them.”

I know we’re not in the clear yet on the journey to Glasses Acceptance. Tomorrow is Monday, a preschool day, and I feel flutters of anxiety thinking about the classroom reaction to our big-hearted boy. My mama instincts twitch at the idea of my kids being marked as “different,” though I know we are all different and that is perfectly OK. Great, even!

Will four-year-olds agree? I don’t know. But if anyone calls him “four eyes,” here’s what I hope Ollie will still be able to see:

  1. Goodness in himself and others.
  2. Beauty in life’s little moments.
  3. The value of wisdom over simple textbook knowledge.
  4. How much it matters to be kind.

That we can’t always protect our children from the world is a painful parenting moment. How do we get used to that? Can we get used to it?

I realize that, in typical Meg fashion, I am worrying about something before it has happened. It might not happen. I didn’t think Ollie would agree to even wear the glasses, and look! Maybe it will be fine. Maybe everyone will love Ollie’s specs the way he does.

And if not? Well … we’ll be there.

In my own glasses, too.

 

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My life in glasses — or lack thereof

I got my first pair of glasses in third grade. They were tiny with multicolored rims — delicate things my parents warned me to never lose track of and never set down where they could get broken.

To paraphrase Ralphie in “A Christmas Story,” nothing strikes fear in a child’s heart like a pair of shattered spectacles.

Well, I never broke my glasses, friends — but there have been plenty of times over the years that I’ve wanted to. From the ugly multicolored frames I graduated to an oversized pair of red glasses that would have made Sally Jessy Raphael weep with jealousy. In fifth grade, I wore them only under extreme duress — like, when we were taking a test and I had to see what my teacher, a kind woman who took a shine to my many “stories,” was writing on the board.

The rest of the time, I suffered.

The world was a hazy, blurry mess by the time I reached high school. I’d gotten it into my head that I hated my glasses — any glasses, all glasses — and would never wear them. My vision has deteriorated to “eh, sort of sucky” to flat-out incapable of seeing my hand in front of my face. Without corrective lenses, at 25, the world is nothing but a mass of shapes of varying sizes and levels of shadow. I can’t see a thing.

So walking around without glasses — even then? Ridiculous.

But tell that to 15-year-old me. By my sophomore year, I’d gotten used to muddling through my day and squinting at the board in school. If people thought I was a snob because I didn’t say “hi” to them in the hallways, so what? That said more about them than me, right? And not being able to see beyond the stage was a major boon when, acting in high school plays, I didn’t have to worry about making eye contact with the audience.

Things continued in this vein for a while. My little gold-framed spectacles stayed firmly in their protective pouch as I looked at the world through waxy glass. I made no bones about my stubborn refusal to wear my glasses. At one point, the eye doctor I saw yearly looked me square in the face and said, “I can’t believe you’re walking around like this.”

But I was.

Until my parents issued an ultimatum.

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