The Boy has, as of today, joined the nation’s league of glasses wearers. Bad mummy that I am, I had no idea that there was anything wrong with his eyesight until a routine school health check picked up that he’d difficulties with the sight test. I was dismissive, to be honest. Okay, so he stands too close to the TV (what child doesn’t?) but equally, he has no problem reading road signs as we drive past or spotting planes in the sky. And while hubby and I both have less-than-perfect vision, neither of us had glasses as young children. I got my first pair at about 13, while hubby was approaching his thirties before he needed them.
When we got the letter telling us that The Boy had failed his test and would be referred for further testing, neither of us gave it much thought. We both surmised that he probably got bored halfway through – he’s not renowned for his attention span, our boy – and fudged it, just so he could get back to playing. Hubby was most insistent that there was nothing wrong, and spent the next few weeks conducting his own at-home sight tests. ‘Can you read the name of this Chuggington episode? What about the words on the back of the Tesco delivery van?’ He concluded that there was nothing wrong with The Boy’s eyes.
Still, I thought I’d better take him for the follow-up test, just in case. I fully expected to be told that his sight was fine, but no. It turns out that he has significant astigmatism in both eyes – and we’d never even noticed. Slapped wrists all round.
So, The Boy would need glasses. I felt a weird stab of regret when we were told. Ridiculous, really, when you think about the hundreds and thousands of children affected by serious illness or disability, but I couldn’t help it. He’s such a gorgeous little thing (yes, yes, I’m biased) with the most beautiful big brown eyes. Eyes that would now be hidden behind a pair of specs. And I still have memories of my time at primary school, where the kids with glasses were seen as geeky, nerdy or just plain weird.
Hubby seemed even more disappointed than me. Actually, no, scrap that. He was just in denial. A third eye test was required to determine The Boy’s exact prescription, and even after that, he was constantly getting him to read small and distant shop hoardings and road signs to prove that his sight couldn’t be *that* bad.
Needless to say, I didn’t say any of this to The Boy. Once we had his prescription, we went straight to Specsavers to choose him a pair of glasses, and began the process of making specs seem cool. The choice was limited – I vetoed anything with a cartoon character on the spot – but we settled on a pair of simple black wire frames that suited his little face. I lavished him with compliments about how grown-up, smart and clever he looked, and made a Big Thing of the fact that he’d be the first in his class to wear glasses. By the time we went to collect them, this afternoon, he was positively leaping up and down with excitement.
And me? Well. My initial reaction was relief. In the flesh, The Boy’s glasses actually look quite nice on him. They’re not too obtrusive and fit his face well. But then I tried to take a photo of him to email to his grandparents. Getting The Boy to hold a natural expression for a snap is next to impossible; he always does this weird, fake, tight-lipped smile. And combined with the glasses, he just looked – I hate to say it – geeky. He looked like the bespectacled boy in my primary school class who everyone teased. It’s an awful thing for a mummy to say, but he didn’t look cute any more (sorry, Boy).
Of course, we’ll get used to his new look. We’re planning to get some professional family photos taken in the not-too-distant future, and by then, no doubt, we’ll be so accustomed to The Boy’s glasses that we won’t even notice them. Putting them on in the morning will become second nature to him, too, and if later in life he gets fed up of them, he’ll have the option of wearing contact lenses like me, or having laser surgery – something that his mummy is far too scared to contemplate.
While I’m being brutally honest, I’ll admit to hoping that The Baby isn’t similarly afflicted with dodgy eyes. I have a friend whose little girl wears glasses, and she hates them: after all, princesses don’t wear glasses. But while I still need time to adjust to my new-look Boy, I’m also counting my blessings. This week, my evening viewing has included Baby Hospital and the Sextuplets documentary, and in the light of those two programmes, my vanity by proxy seems rather silly. I have two beautiful, happy and healthy children. In the great scheme of things, who cares if they need glasses?