When I was 3 or 4 years old – I’m not entirely sure, but I know I was at nursery – something exciting happened. A plastic bag had blown into a tree, and the teachers were lifting us kids up, one by one, so that we could see it. When it was my turn, I tried and tried, but I just couldn’t see what the fuss was about. It’s not that I didn’t find the idea of a bag caught in a tree exciting – after all, who wouldn’t? - I literally couldn’t see the focus of everyone’s attention.
At home time, someone had a word with my mum and suggested I might need to have my eyes tested. Which I did. And have been wearing glassed ever since, which is definitely a good thing, because it turns out I’m blind as a bat.
Gem and I always knew there was a chance our kids would end up with bad eyes. Leaving me aside, the rest of Gem’s family are spec-wearers, and my lot all have glasses too, albeit none of them have eyes as bad as mine. But we’ve never noticed either of the girls having any problems, and when Heather’s eyes were checked out last year at nursery, although she needed a follow-up appointment at the hospital, they told us her eyes were near enough perfect.
So on Sunday, when almost on a whim we took Megan for an eye test (she’d been complaining of a sore eye), we weren’t expecting any different. But we got more than we’d bargained for, as did the poor optician who examined her!
You see, being three, and all this being a brand new experience, Megan wasn’t too keen on sitting still while they looked in her eyes. So the optician gave her some drops to slow her eyes down, and sent us away for 40 minutes while they worked their magic. A cake and a drink later (virtually untouched by Megs, it has to be said) we were back, and the difference in her was very noticeable.
Apparently these drops can cause drowsiness, and in Megan’s case that was certainly true – she was almost sleeping in the examination room. Which made it all the more surprising when she threw up all over herself, Gem, the optician and the floor. It was quite the spectacular expulsion by all accounts!
I (perhaps fortunately) missed it though, as I was in the waiting area with Heather. The first I knew that anything was amiss was overhearing Gem apologising repeatedly before I was despatched to procure some baby wipes, to help with the cleanup.
The staff in Specsavers managed to find Megs a promotional t-shirt to wear in place of her sicky clothes, and it was dressed like this that she picked out her first pairs of glasses. I say “she picked out”… truth is she was (understandably) so traumatised by the whole experience that she just wanted to go home, and it was under much duress that she agreed to go for some pinky/purpley Hello Kitty glasses, and some similarly coloured sunglasses, which we’ll pick up next week.
It turns out Megan’s eyes are about as bad as mine are – we’re both very long-sighted, with very similar prescriptions, and both suffer from astigmatism. The fact that our prescriptions are so similar (Megan is +5.0 in both eyes, I’m +5.0 in one and +4.25 in the other) has meant I’ve been able to let her try out my glasses, which she has done a few times since the weekend. Last night she told me things look “more pointy”, which I’m taking to mean “more in focus”, which is encouraging in terms of getting her to keep them on.
In the meantime, both Gem and I are feeling a bit guilty. I’ve already apologised for giving her my rubbish eyes, while Gem somehow feels responsible for a) not noticing anything was wrong and b) not building her properly in the first place, both of which are ludicrous. Things are what they are, and having to wear glasses is nothing like it was when I was a kid – there’s so much choice now, where in my day we had a choice of blue or brown plastic frames (for the boys, girls got pink or, em, pink).
We have, however, struggled a bit to come up with positive glasses-wearing role models that Megan can relate to, which surprised me a lot. The entertainment industry still seems to view specs as being for old people or geeks, and mainly boy geeks at that. Pretty much the only girl we’ve come up with is Margo from Despicable Me, which is definitely pretty poor. Millions of kids wear glasses, it would be nice to see this reflected a bit more in movies and on TV. Something to keep an eye on (keep an eye on, geddit?)
One of my earliest childhood memories is of my first day in nursery with glasses. I can remember being on a climbing frame, and one of the boys asking me my name, because he hadn’t recognised me and thought I was new – and I don’t think he was the only one. I’m sure it won’t all be plain sailing, but I doubt Megan will have to deal with anything like that as she adapts to her new life. Glasses will be as much a part of her as they are of me, and it won’t be long before, like me, she can barely remember a time when she didn’t wear them. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. (ok, I’ll stop it now…)