jaden parenthood

A year in glasses

Thursday, December 05, 2019tee

Last month it's officially a year in glasses for Mr. 4. 

What seemed to be a routine 3.5 year check with the MCHN changed us forever. He did so well with the standard preschool questions and exams, I was beaming proudly in the background. When it was time to do the eye exam, he was just staring blankly at the eye chart, unsure of himself. “Hey buddy, you know this!”, I encouraged him. Tiger mum in action, haha. He barely got anything right which bugged my husband and I. MCHN recommended us to see an optometrist which we did, just to be sure. I didn’t think much of it but we did. Thankfully, we did... because we found out his eyesight was really bad. 

I had all the feels with his diagnosis. First, denial - how could this happen? He barely has any screen time. He knows and sees his letters, numbers and colours just fine, are they sure? Then, I blamed myself. For someone caring for him and with him all the time, how could I have missed it all these time? The wall-hitting and bumping which I accounted for childish carelessness. The inability to focus and eventually what I mistook as disinterest in colouring or tracing. The frequent eye-rubbing. The inability to “see” things at close range. “Can you get that for me, please?” “Where mum, where?”

Then I worry for him. Will his peers be kind to him? Will he get targetted for being different? Will he have a hard time adjusting to having specs and all the “extra” things that come with it?

Then I worried about me forgetting his face. What it looks like. My sweet, innocent boy. His face will change. He will be different. Such a silly thing but it was part of my “feels”. 

I worried for him and the stigma that comes with wearing glasses as a kid. I remember whilst in grade school that kids can be mean and hurtful at times. “Four eyes”, was one thing I remember being said to one classmate in grade school quite often. 

I felt guilty and sad for him, living with bad eyesight for the first 3.5 yrs. I felt really bad especially when my patience runs thin on days when he tells me “Where is it, mum?”  when it was just right under his nose. I feel for him knowing how hard his brain must be compensating for his bad eyesight since day 1. But I am accepting the fact that we couldn’t have known especially him being our first - and he, who saw things that way since he was born, has no way of telling us that he can’t see clearly. For that, I am so thankful it was caught on early before his eyesight could worsen and we can still do something about it which his eyesight is still developing. I am grateful for healthcare and check-ups, how routine they seem to be. 

Like any other transition, my resilient child did so well. He handled the change great. I almost welled up in tears when he put on his glasses and said, “Mum, i can you see clearly now!” We did have episodes of glass frames breaking way more than what I wanted, but that’s part of childhood, I suppose. His peers handled his “change” pretty well, they went on  playing and chatting as if there was nothing new, no mention of it whatsoever. You have to love kids and their ability to accept everyone despite differences and changes. They still treated him the same, it was just as if wearing glasses was normal like he was wearing a different shirt than he was yesterday, and that he was in essence still him. It’s taking a bit of adjustment especially teaching him to care for his glasses and to where to safely leave it, and to try to avoid scratches and what-have-yous. And how to deal with over-eager, curious kids who’d take it off from his face  (lucky, his younger sister is the only one who does it). 

I feel it’s the grown-ups who have more to say with the change and I’ve had my share of experiences with that. “Really? I thought it’s a fashion accessory you’ve styled him with.” “Too young to have such thick glasses!” We’d even overheard an elderly couple talking about his glasses in Chinese, not realising J understood them. I felt sometimes judged that I may have caused it, that I may have given him too much screen-time and gadgets. I felt the need to over and over defend his diagnosis - that it was genetic, apparently he’s had it since birth, and he’s lucky if he gets 30 minutes of screen time a week. But I realise it must be people’s curiosity and ignorance. Eventually, I learned to leave things be and don’t care anymore. 

It’s been a challenge on some areas, especially having photos taken (the lens glare in photos is so real). It’s a challenge ensuring he’s safe when the little girl grabs it off his face out of frustration or will. 

His glasses have grown on him, and has become an essential part of who he is. I couldn’t imagine him without them anymore. He’s seeing clearly and better now, too. The effects were almost instantaneous. He now enjoys sitting still doing crafts and colouring, writing. He can see things better and clearly too. He can see further down in the eye chart. Realistically, with his high prescription, I don’t think he’ll be off glasses anytime soon. I am grateful for improvement and good eyesight. My little one finally sees the world as I see it and for that I am thankful. 

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