My daughter is less than a week in from getting her first pair glasses, and she’s already managed to scratch one of the lenses. I’m not surprised because, 1) she’s only a toddler, and 2) I, too, wore glasses as a child and was constantly breaking them, losing them, or bending them.
Fortunately she can see perfectly without her glasses — she has a condition called esotropia in which the alignment in her eyes is off causing one or both of her eyes to drift inward. It mostly happens when she’s tired or doing things up close, like playing on the iPad, reading, or drawing. The doctor is optimistic she’ll outgrow the condition.
Now that I’m the parent of a spectacled kiddo, I’m realizing how much of an emotional toll this could take on my little girl if I don’t handle this transition carefully. Already when I tell neighbors, friends, and family that my daughter had to get glasses, they make remarks tinged with sympathy, like, “Oh, poor thing.”
And I get it — glasses aren’t fun. I’m legally blind without glasses or contact lenses, and I’m constantly fussing with my contacts, cleaning my lenses, buying contact solution, and wetting my eyes with drops during allergy season.
Growing up, my mother would comment on how much cuter I looked without frames on my face. When I got glasses in the third grade, it was only a matter of months before she got me contacts. She didn’t want me “to be one of those kids who had glasses and braces at the same time,” like she did as a kid. Her intentions were good: She didn’t want me to feel self-conscience or ugly. She didn’t want me bullied at school like she was as a child. But her comments inadvertently made me feel insufficient at my core, like in order to be pretty I had to have my contacts in and perfect teeth.
I call her out on her comments now that I’m an adult. She laughs it off and admits that’s how she feels. But she doesn’t apologize.
My daughter is beautiful and perfect, glasses or not. Oh, did I mention she has a small chip on her front baby tooth that she got when she took a tumble as a one year old? Glasses and a chipped tooth — her grandmother’s nightmare.
I’ve made an oath to wear my glasses more now that my daughter has to wear them, too. I deliberately say how the glasses not only look good on her, but how they also make her eyes work better. Since she’s almost three years old, I don’t stress or make a fuss about her wanting to take her glasses off when she says wants a break from wearing them.
Still, I don’t want her to see her eyewear in a negative light and look down or feel pity for people who must wear them. Glasses, clothes, crooked teeth, or anything that meets the eye does not define a person. Because where does the judgement stop? Beauty comes from the light within, and I will not let false ideas about glasses dim her light.