Spectacle

Daniel

(Addendum to last post: all’s well, back to sweating the small stuff with renewed vigor…)

It is with a smidgeon of guilt that we leave the eye test. It has been about a year and a half now during which time marque 2 has dropped continual hints to his hard of hearing mother. In defence of my non-action I call upon his lucidity. He is sharp as a tack and perceptive as hell. He helps me out when driving. Little nudges that, for example, the lights are now green and we can proceed. That there’s a cyclist coming up on the inside so best to hold off on the old left turn. He is my other set of eyes. And I know I’m not allowed to say this because I am his mother and therefore disqualified – but he has a smashing set of eyes. Big hazel ones with lashes to cry over. So as the hints have been dropped I’ve been in denial. Eyes that good can’t be hazy. It just doesn’t make sense. Until one day he prises my glasses from me and puts them on. His face lights up.
‘It’s like everything is in HD’ he says. That is the moment when I take my dim head out of the sand and make a call. We’re going, at last, to Specsavers.

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We traipse off – marque 3 and 4 with us for solidarity. Which is just as well because we really need them. The optician works away and keeps saying ‘good’ and ‘excellent’ so I think we’re getting out of there issue free. When she finishes she tells us the good news. The eyes are perfectly healthy. Yippee. Followed swiftly by the fact that he needs glasses. To wear at all times except when playing soccer. Which means at all times. He is short sighted with an astigmatism in both eyes. Perhaps we’d like to go on down and choose some frames. He enquires immediately about contact lenses instead and she says yes, certainly, when he’s about 16. With marque 2 and myself somewhat in shock, marque 3 and 4 get busy advising him about the frames. An assistant gently curls his hair behind his ears and makes encouraging noises. Marque 3 tells him that one pair suits him so much that he’d like to get some too. A smile begins to form. Thank god for the brothers.

As it sinks in, this impending change, he fears being teased the most. He is not one of the jocks in his class. The sporty ones with the gelled coiffed hair who have girlfriends already. He has a great group of friends but currently sits at a table of jocks. They tease him, little jabs and jibes, bubbling away. Courtesy of the longish hair and him being into art and music. One of the jocks told him recently, when he was squinting to read the board, that he doesn’t need glasses – he’s just looking for attention. My pen has been poised to alert the teacher but he thinks that’ll backfire on him. And now he is saying that he needs a hair cut. That he simply can’t be the guy with long hair and glasses. He doesn’t want to get a jock hair cut, just to take the length out of it, shorter layers, and cut it half way up his ears. No problem, his mother who is gathering a little wisdom, never too late, thankfully, accedes.

We collect the glasses, marque 3, himself and myself. Marque 3 throws the sunshine into it, getting him to read far off signs with them on, then getting him to take them off to the blur. We’re having fun, until he catches a glimpse of himself in a shop window, and pops the glasses back into the case. This is going to be a drip-feed process.

He asks for advice on Sunday night. Walk into school with them on and get it over with in a bang. Or take them out for the board only on the first day. Lay the ground work for the days to come. I ask him which he thinks he’d be comfortable with and he’s pretty sure that plan B is the one. His Dad gives him an arming – if alarming – pep talk too. It involves telling anyone who teases him to F*** off (yes really), that they’re to get over the fact that he’ll be wearing glasses because he needs to and if they have anything smart-arse to say about it he’ll be sharing it with the teacher. We’re both feeling the nerves for him clearly.

So on Monday I wait at home wringing my hands, imagining wringing them more usefully around the necks of anyone who teases him. At pick up time I watch him walk towards the car and I’m squinting myself trying to assess how bad it’s been. I practise a few little never mind style mantras. He opens the door, hurls his bag in and beams at me.
‘I have just had the best day ever’ he says. He must’ve bottled it I’m thinking. Lost his nerve. Put it off for another day. Because he can’t just have had the best day ever sporting spectacles for the first time. That wouldn’t make any sense.
‘Did you wear the glasses at all today?’
‘I did. I took them out for the board and it was great. I was getting all these compliments from everyone, how they really suited me and everything, I couldn’t believe it’. Compliments. Now there’s something I couldn’t have dreamt of.
‘Even the guy beside me who didn’t believe I needed them. He was really nice. He high fived me when he saw them’. High fives and compliments for a first outing with glasses amongst 12 year old boys. It restores a bit of faith, warms the heart a little does it not? There’s a lesson in it for me too. It’s time to set the bar a little higher and expect the best of human nature. It’s just been proven to me after all.

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