We See, We Saw

By Gretchen

“Mommy! There are numbers on that clock!” My son pointed to the clock mounted on the kitchen wall. It was the morning after he got glasses. Suddenly? He could see.


The next few days featured more revelations: Mountains had bumps and lumps! Water had waves! The world was no longer fuzzy. It had texture. His brain had to shuffle some files around.


Ryley was only 4 when a routine eye check at the pediatrician indicated something might be wrong. We were told to take him to a children’s eye physician. Within days, his awful eyesight was confirmed.


I don’t have to mention the G word. Rhymes with wilt.


He looked adorable in the tiny blue wire-rimmed glasses he chose. At preschool, his teacher read a book about the inherent awesomeness of glasses to the class. He was the star. Parents told me their little ones were asking when they could get glasses, too.


But having glasses at age 4 and having glasses at age 10 are two completely different experiences. One makes you mysterious and a little grown-up. Years slough away until one morning the kid with glasses is no longer a hero. He’s a nerd.


The first indication came at a party with multiple other families a few years ago. Ryley approached me, tearfully. I asked what was wrong and he told me a kid called him “glasses face.”


I told him I was sorry.


As he got older, he’d find excuses to not wear his glasses, insisting he could see everything. Sometimes, they were mysteriously lost during the night. He put them on his desk, but in the morning they’re gone, mom! Gone!


Find them, I’d order.


He pointed out ads for contact lenses on TV or in Sunday newspaper inserts. “I’d be so happy if I didn’t have to wear these dumb glasses!” he’d mutter as he cleaned the gunk off his lenses. Half the time, his glasses looked like they had been dipped in a glass of whole milk.


A few days ago, I took him to his eye doctor. They had him track the buzzy airplane and wait for cows to escape from a barn. He was too big, they were too patronizing. I began seeing his experience through his eyes. His glasses represented a time in his life when recognizing numbers was revolutionary and picture books were written about kids just like him. Now, he had to fight negative stereotypes—Big kid issues for what he perceived was a little kid problem.


No wonder he was weary.


The doctor asked the usual questions about which lens was better. This one…click…or this one…click…this one…


She peered into his eyes and I wondered if she appreciated how beautiful they are.


She told him he could relax. He sat back.


“You don’t need glasses any more.”


She explained his vision had corrected through normal childhood eye development. He has 20-20 vision in one eye, 20-25 in the other.


“I told you I could see!” He smiled, vindicated, free. He thinks his problems are solved. Certainly, a burden has been lifted.


I told him I was happy for him and gave him a squeeze before he climbed into the backseat of the car. We drove away.


The mountains have bumps. The world has texture.

Gretchen writes at Lifenut.



11 Responses to We See, We Saw
  1. Stephanie
    September 6, 2009 | 1:48 am

    Oh, this hits so close to home, right to my heart. Noah wears glasses. He’s still at the young and innocent stage with them. This was precious.


  2. Lifenut » Two-eyes
    September 6, 2009 | 1:52 pm

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  3. Kristink
    September 6, 2009 | 6:06 pm

    Yay for no more glasses!

  4. edj
    September 6, 2009 | 6:13 pm

    That was a total childhood fantasy of mine! No way! He outgrew his glasses? That’s AWESOME! Are unicorns real too? How come I didn’t outgrow mine?
    (Oh, and congrats to Ryley!)

  5. Cynthia
    September 6, 2009 | 9:58 pm

    Thanks for sharing such a sweet story! I’m happy for him, too. My brother also wore glasses for a while as a child, then his vision corrected and he didn’t have to anymore.

  6. Goslyn
    September 6, 2009 | 10:46 pm

    Lucky kid! I’m glad his eyes have grown up so well. Mine did the opposite, but I wish I had been as lucky!

  7. Stephanie
    September 7, 2009 | 12:04 am

    I’m so happy for Ryley, but your lead up to the celebration has me a bit weepy. Since Sydney will probably not outgrow her glasses, I’m hopeful she doesn’t get teased when she gets farther into elementary school.

    For some reason, I feel like glasses on girls might be more acceptable (you know, eyeglasses as a fashionable accessory kind of thing). But that might just be wishful thinking on my part.

    Yay for Ryley, though. That is SO great his wish came true!

  8. Kelly
    September 7, 2009 | 8:58 am

    Oh, what we see through our kids eyes.

  9. Joanne
    September 7, 2009 | 11:58 am

    Wow, that is truly awesome! Ethan goes through periods where he absolutely will not wear his glasses. We’ve wondered if he is seeing better also. But unfortunately he can’t really say or do those eye tests. One eye doctor said his had improved and made adjustments. Maybe one day.

    What a joy to read this.

  10. Anitra
    September 9, 2009 | 10:48 am

    I guess I just don’t get it. I am one who never outgrew my glasses, and while I remember the taunts, it was so much more important to me that I could SEE! I could READ! I could play sports (kinda)! Hand-eye coordination is really hard when everything 3 feet away is a blur. Certainly, I envied the kids who didn’t need glasses; they could see the bottom of the swimming pool, they didn’t need help finding the alarm clock, they could fall asleep watching TV… I guess I viewed it like having a handicap. Pretending it wasn’t there wasn’t going to make it go away.

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