My seven-year old son needs glasses. I took him to the eye doctor yesterday, finally making it to an appointment that had already been rescheduled TWICE because of various conflicts. I almost rescheduled again yesterday. L. is home on spring break and digging his heels in about leaving the house to do even fun things, so a trip to the optometrist was not high on his list of preferred activities yesterday. He complained and grouched his way out of the house yesterday with T. chattering happily from the back seat about the trip. Unlike her brother, T. loves outings. She loves Trader Joe's trips, and visits to the regular grocery store; loves Target and the mall; loves trips out for routine and even not-so-routine doctor's appointments.
I had a nagging feeling that L. might be needing glasses. He was borderline last year and failed the vision test at school. We rushed him to the eye doctor, thinking--hoping, actually--that his school problems were due to nearsightedness. But as it turned out his eyes weren't bad last year, just possibly heading that way in the near future--which is where we are now. And when L. jumbled almost all the letters on the eye charts, squirming almost out of his stool to get a better look at the charts, I just knew we would be picking out frames later that afternoon.
I started wearing glasses when I was eight-years old. I don't remember much from being eight, but I do remember finding out I needed glasses. My teacher had a talk with my mom one afternoon about how I was squinting at the blackboard, and she thought I might need glasses. My eight-year old stomach dropped at the news. Back in 1977 there weren't a lot of choices in eyewear for kids (or for adults, for that matter). If you were a girl, you got a large, round plastic pair of pink frames, and if you were a boy, you had to settle for plain old brown. I got pink, of course. I appreciated seeing the world crystallize into view in front of me when I put them on, but I hated how clunky and plastic the glasses were, how they creaked when I opened them up to put them on, and how the lenses would get greasy throughout the day, making me feel just, well, greasy and unattractive myself, even at eight. I jumped at the chance to get contacts when I was thirteen (mmmmm...puberty AND glasses) and wore those until I was thirty-four, and T. was only a few months old. Somehow, while I was busy marrying, going to graduate school and having kids, glasses got smaller, and attractive, and I discovered, at long last, that I liked them.
The world of glasses-wearing is just so different today. Kids are loaded with choices when it comes to picking out glasses. Rows and rows of cute little metal and plastic frames greeted us when we walked into the eyeglass store: square ones, round ones, hip miniature Malcolm X glasses, bright red frames, gold frames; and the store even offered a buy-one-get-one sale so, for the price of one small pair, a kid could end up with two and, like Randy Jackson, alternate frames when the mood strikes. Really, the choices were a bit staggering.
L. had warmed up significantly to the idea of glasses on the car ride over to the store, and was truly excited to try on all the different frames. He settled on two (we're going with the Randy Jackson approach)--both small, stylish wire frames that made my boy suddenly look so grown up and, at the same time, strangely vulnerable. When I looked at him with his glasses on in the store I didn't feel the burdens I had felt as a young girl. I felt happy for him and for his excitement; and for the fact that he lived in a kinder, gentler glasses-wearing world.