Today, I found out my 8 year-old son must wear glasses. I wear them, my husband wears them, that’s a family thing. It’s so predictable that, since he was 4, we had been doing his eye examinations, which were up to now normal. This year, I have already been suspecting of a little difficulty for him to see well. Now, it is confirmed. Those beautiful and expressive eyes, which are his registered mark, are behind lenses. Just a little myopia; he can even dispense the glasses to play soccer. But suddenly a lot of worries came to my mind!
I wear glasses since I was 6. For a long time, I was the only one in my classroom. As a short, thin, introspective and nerdy girl, I was the perfect target for jokes. As my mom was. Although, just until a little while ago, that kind of joke was considered only a “child thing”, nobody took it seriously, nobody cared much.
At least at home everybody would have to deal with the same troubles. And also with funny situations. When we would go to the beach, for instance, walking out from the sea was complicated. We were dislocated by the waves and simply couldn’t find the family’s parasol on the sand. Meanwhile, the others would be observing from afar, laughing a lot, the “Mister Magoo” brother, lost, tightening the eyes and approaching each and every beach umbrella, looking for a known face!
When I was 12, my mother gave me a pair of contact lenses. It was such a big revolution to me that I ended up abusing them. The result: a keratoconus has formed in my eyes, a problem in my corneas that contraindicates surgery and the use of soft contact lenses.
So, those memories overwhelmed me like in the day my son left the kindergarten to go to a “big school”. I thought to myself: “Oh my, he is going to live so many things there… experiences for his entire life. The first exam, the first date, the gang… The first low test score, the first disappointment… And now, he is going to deal with all of these things wearing glasses…
Associating a person wearing glasses with the “intellectual” is unavoidable. It discourages, in the beginning, the “flirters”. A Brazilian rock band, called “Paralamas do Sucesso”, has the song “Óculos” (“Glasses”). The vocalist, Herbert Vianna, sings about his bad luck with girls: “Por que você não olha pra mim? Atrás dessa lente também bate um coração. Atrás dessa lente tem um cara legal.” (“Why don’t you look at me? Behind these lenses, there’s also a heart that beats. Behind these lenses there’s a cool guy.”). I identify myself instantaneously with this song! All of a tribe, which had also identified themselves, felt betrayed when Vianna finally did the corrective eye surgery.
Thank God the day when I met my husband I had my glasses on! Nobody can say it was misleading propaganda hahaha!
Several things tranquilize me, though. Nowadays, parents and teachers are more aware, and many kids in my son’s school wear glasses, too (he is not the only different boy). Nowadays, the humiliation, formerly considered as a “child thing”, has already received a name: Bullying. Many studies, books and even law projects treat this subject, and the schools are concerned about banning this practice for good – even though I know how kids can be cruel sometimes.
Afterwards, I hope he can do the surgery (and a cool technology can be invented in order to resolve my problem, too). Until then, my role as a mother (and an authority on this theme, who lives with it day by day), is to provide my son with such an invincible self-esteem that his glasses become just a mere detail; a useful object to improve his vision sharpness and that’s it.
I came to the following conclusion:
We cannot prevent our children from living some experiences, even the most difficult ones. Better, WE DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT OF preventing them from living some situations which can yield them to grow up.
Everything just depends on the way we prepare them.
Everything just depends on our points of view.
“Behind these lenses there’s a cool guy”, a pretty cool guy, who has a beautiful future ahead.
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This post in Portuguese: “Meu filho vai usar óculos”, originally published on March 11th, 2011.