It may not have escaped your notice that lovely Miss Kitty is now sporting a very fetching pair of glasses. Or to be more accurate, three very fetching pairs of glasses.
given that I’m shortsighted, so is H, so are all of the grandparents and aunts and uncles, with our children it’s always been a question of when they got glasses, not if. I think I’d rather hoped that they’d be nearer to H and not need them until they were teenagers but for now Kitty needs to wear a pair for a few months and then we’ll know whether she just needs them for “concentrating work”, though quite how a five year old is supposed to be able to tell when she’s concentrating enough to need her glasses I have no idea.
She had her eyes tested just before half term and we duly surveyed all of the frames in the rack, rejected half a dozen and chose a couple that she liked and looked good in and took them off to be measured. The first pair was the wrong fit, and the second the arms were too long and our lovely assistant returned with what appeared to be the only pair of frames in the shop that was the right size for Kit, and which we’d already discounted. Kitty, having been promised glasses, and I suspect fearing that she might end up with nothing, latched onto them as her newest favourite favourite ever, and I, now exhausted with the combination of keeping three children occupied in an opticians and an impressively horrible cold, said yes.
The guilt set in before we got home.
I’ve worn glasses since I was Kitty’s age. I’m now horribly shortsighted, to the point that there’s only a very small distance at which I can see something in focus without my glasses on without double vision kicking in for being so near to my face.
I tried contacts in my teens but the idea of fingers touching eyeballs makes me shudder and despite many many efforts I only ever got one contact in one eye and even then I think it was more by accident than design, so glasses it has been for the last thirty years.
And when I was Kitty’s age, and at the opticians where we lived, glasses meant choosing between pink or blue. Big plastic NHS frames in a slightly Dame Edna Everage pointy corners style. I think I alternated between the two colours for most of primary school, although I do remember having a pair with red stripes on the corners by the time I made it to Form 6. High fashion they were not. Looking back at the pictures now I don’t look too silly, although my primary and early teen years had a definite gawky ruffled baby chick vibe (especially while I was growing out my bowl cut – what can I say, it was the 80’s), but I remember the first day of going into school with my glasses and it was not my favourite day by a long stretch.
I was quite spectacularly shy at the time so anything that drew attention to me was a not good thing, and as you cannot wear glasses and not look different and as fellow five year olds love to point out the new and the different, you can see where this is going.
It’s not that they were mean, I don’t think I’ve ever been called names for wearing glasses, but to a shy and self conscious child, “Look! Caroline’s got spectacles!” might as well have continued “and is therefore an alien, let’s tease her and look at her and be mean to her forever”. I ran to the end of the playground and stood looking out through the corner of the fencing so that no one could see until the bell rang for school.
Even before I had children I knew that I would do anything and everything to try to save them from that feeling, or at the very least, to give them the confidence to face the world through glasses unabashed.
Hence the guilt. I felt bad that I’d allowed myself to be talked into glasses that maybe Kit didn’t like, and bad that she would associate glasses with desperation and a lack of choice. Shades of the 80’s all over again.
And so we went out the next day and went around all the other opticians near to us, and bless Specsavers in Solihull, they were lovely, they were kind, they took time with us and with Kitty in particular, and they helped us find not one but two pairs of glasses that Kitty really truly loves, and as we would be buying them from scratch because we’d already used the NHS voucher they even let us have the adult buy one get one free scheme.
So now we have three pairs. The original, which turned out to be not as bad as I’d remembered them once we got them home*, and are blue and purple, a magenta pink pair with Tinkerbell down the sides and a steely blue pair which have Elsa on them. The latter two both look lovely on her, and the branding is actually fairly subtle (although where glasses are concerned I’d probably have put aside my usual veto on the children wearing anything too heavily branded if it made Kitty like them).
And so far so good. She’s been happy enough wearing whichever takes her fancy, usually with a fair amount of changing over the course of the day, and we’re getting to the point where it looks funny to see her without them rather than with. She is as always, confident and very much her own person, and I when I got home last night she was happily wearing Tinkerbell and told me how she’d shown them off to another boy in her class who already has glasses and they’d together decided that hers were just as cool as his minion ones. Phew.
*Though in having them less than a week one of the nose pads has already fallen off so I’m not very impressed by the quality or service – hence not naming them – we’ll be going straight to Specsavers next time she needs a check up .