In my quest to ensure that Isla feels at ease wearing her glasses, I decided to have a discussion with my son Jack about making sure he tells her he loves them, and that he looks after her if someone starts to tease her. I started by telling him that Peanut was a fairy-tale princess so she has to wear glasses. That went over extremely well. Here’s an excerpt:
Me: Isla’s a princess so she needs glasses.
Jack: Princesses don’t wear glasses.
Me: Yes they do.
Jack: No. They don’t. Only old queens wear glasses. And some old kings, but not princesses.
Me: Well, then, time to write a @#$%ing fairy tale where they do. Mommy wears glasses.
Jack: I guess mostly old people like you have glasses. You have movie glasses, Grandma in Mariapolis and Grandma in Snow Lake have reading glasses, Daddy has sunglasses. I guess all old people in the whole wide world have sunglasses.
Me: Yup. A lot of people have all kinds of glasses.
Jack: Why does Peanut have to wear them? She looks funny.
Me: Honey, Peanut has to because her eyes are magic. She needs them to help her see better. Her one eye isn’t as strong as the other, and these glasses are going to help make it better. Most importantly, she needs you to look after her. Promise me you’ll look out for her and help her out if someone’s making fun of her? Pinky Square? (When we lock pinky fingers, he calls it a pinky square, instead of a pinky swear… it’s far too cute to correct.)
Jack: OK, Mommy. I promise. Pinky Square. Mommy, are you going to wear glasses until you’re old as Grandma?
Me: Yup. And when I’m a grandma, cuddling your babies, I’ll wear my very best glasses so I can see them perfectly.
Jack: When will you be a grandma?
Me: When you have babies. Then I’ll be a grandma to your babies!
Jack: Wait a minute… you’ll be a grandma and a mom?
Jack: Aaaah… that’s hard work.
You said it, son.
The day after this discussion, Peanut was jumping up and down on a chair. Jack just about lost his mind — he turned to her and screeched: “Peanut! Would you quit banging around and be careful? You’re going to hurt your loose eye.”
Apparently he took my request to look after his sister quite seriously.
And with that admonishment, they both turned back to the task at hand and went about their day. I’m not entirely sure where Jack got this idea from… I suspect the way Peanut’s one eye rolls inward got him to thinking that it’s actually loose. I’ll have to explain to him that there’s no danger of it actually falling out. I’ll also have to explain that this sort of outburst of caring wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I told him to look out for her. At any rate, I suspect his intentions were good, and that’s really all that matters.
As for Peanut? She’s doing wonderfully with her new specs. I’ll be honest, it was a bit of a tough slog at the beginning. After wearing them for one day, she wheeled up to me on her cart, handed me her glasses and stated:
“Me no want these no more, K?”
As I looked at her, with her big beautiful eye turned in, my heart started aching all over again. (See Exhibit A.) I started the dangerous slide into a life’s not fair mood. I was thinking that no two-year-old should have to worry about keeping glasses up on her face.
So I told myself again:
Life’s not fair. But life is good. She’ll only think wearing glasses is a big deal if I let it be one. And it’s not. I know that. I just want her to be happy. I want her to feel special, not different. I want to hand her the world. I want to protect her from heartache and pain and grief. I don’t want her to have to worry about pushing glasses up on her tiny face while she’s playing, or have the skin on her nose and behind her ears toughen up so it doesn’t hurt. I just want her to be a kid and do kid things and run and laugh and play without worrying about keeping a pair of glasses on her little two-year-old face. I want everything to be perfect for her. But it won’t be. That’s not the way life works. And that’s all right. We don’t get to decide what we’re handed, but we certainly get to decide how we make it work. That’s life. And life is good.
The next day, she showed me how she’s making it work. She was stringing beads on her Dora necklace. She can do that now, because she can see. In that moment, I could almost hear her telling me: Wearing glasses is no big deal, Mommy. I got this. That’s life. And life is good. Wearing glasses is no big deal. †