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Short Sighted

posted Monday March 21st, 2011

A while back, I was having dinner at a downtown Phoenix restaurant with two of my best girlfriends. Someone who knew someone at the table stopped to say hi.

“Hey, what’s with the book club?” he asked, laughing.

We looked at each other. It took us a minute — he was making fun of the fact that all three of us were wearing glasses.

I rarely think about my glasses. I’ve worn them full time since — geez, I’m not sure how long. A really long time. I am terrified of contacts. Why would you voluntarily stick something in your eye?

And frankly, once you hit a certain age, a pair of glasses can hide a multitude of sins (or, at least, a few wrinkles, at least that’s what I tell myself — and my  mom recently admitted she still wears her glasses even though she doesn’t really need them, for the same reason).

Plus, I love my glasses. Not long ago, I invested in a funky pair by Betsey Johnson, after falling for the ones my friend Laurie was wearing. I love ‘em.

So does Sophie. Sophie has begged for glasses for years, and not long ago it became obvious that she really needs them. Armed with a prescription and a false start at LensCrafters (I don’t recommend taking your special needs kid there) we headed across town to my optometrist.

Sophie chose a pair of wire frames in a blue-purple hue. No Betsey Johnsons for her; Sophie’s are made by (seriously) Barbie. The frames are perfectly nice, very plain.

Here’s where I make my ugly admission: As soon as she put them on, my heart sank.

I often wonder if we are hard-wired to find our own children the most gorgeous, breath-taking creatures on the planet. That’s how I feel about mine — isn’t it how you feel about yours? I could (and do) stare at Annabelle and Sophie for hours, taking in the soft skin, the perfectly shaped calves, the sweet smiles. Marveling that I created such beauty.

Shallow, but true.

So please, universe, don’t stick some crappy, Barbie brand wire-framed glasses on one of those faces. I know you’ll tell me that Sophie looks absolutely adorable in the glasses. But to me, not so much.

Maybe it’s because when I was 4, my mother let me pick out my first pair of glasses and I managed (with the help of a shag haircut that was not my idea) to transform myself into a hideous beast in octagonal green and brown tortoiseshell. (It was a long journey from that stage to the dinner table with bespectacled friends stage.) Maybe it’s because five minutes after Sophie put them on, the glasses were already cockeyed and smudged. Maybe it’s because it’s a pain in the ass to keep glasses on a kid, particularly this kid.

Maybe it’s because when I look at Sophie in those glasses, I see just another kid with Down syndrome rather than my own amazing, unique daughter.

Maybe I’m a terrible, shallow person. But I’m not so terrible that I don’t recognize that my kid can’t see very well. So we got Sophie the glasses, and a special case, and a lot of instructions about how to take care of her new prized possession.

The glasses lasted an entire day and a half before she lost them. So today I’ll call the optometrist and order a new pair. For the next few days, at least, I’ll have my Sophie back.

And some time to adjust my attitude.

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Tags: Filed under: Down syndrome, fashion, health by Amysilverman

10 Responses to “Short Sighted”

  1. I got my first glasses when I was 7 (and probably should have had them the year before, if not sooner). So to me, Sophie looks like a little kid with glasses. The first thing I think when I see any little kid with glasses? “That kid probably has terrible eyesight. I’m glad it’s been diagnosed and is being treated now instead of later when he or she will have missed so much.”

  2. What a sweet smile. :)

  3. You know, when I first saw the pic of Sophie in her glasses, it was the first time I didn’t see her as a little girl with Downs but as a little girl really becoming her own. Seriously, that haircut and top and glasses and smile. You can see a confidence of a young person really feel9ing great about who they are. I see it in my kids too, but it’s the first time I think I’ve seen it in Sophie without her trying to be “Sophie”. It’s just her…happily.

    Of course, being a fellow glasses wearer, I think they always make people look better.

  4. My first glasses were age 5… a few years later I remember picking a pair of crazy rhinestone cat-eye glasses to my mother’s dismay and half-way home from the store my mom turned the car around and canceled the order and I got regular glasses… which I soon broke and had taped together in the middle.

  5. Awww… Kayli has glasses now . My husband took it hard but I love it! Neither of us ever wore glasses and I need them now but hate needing them (always getting lost or not there when I need them to read) and we didn’t know what was needed to take care of them. We went thru two sets of cheapo glasses via insurance – ugly, heavy and didn’t fit right. We got the spec for us brand finally at an optometrist who carried them and they fit great, many cute frames but within a month they were scratched to hell! Thank god for warranteed lens! But now she is great with them, has one place to put them when off and is getting used to them. Washed every morning. I think she is cute but it took a week or so for me to adjust. Not related to all. just my kid.

  6. I also love the way she’s looking RIGHT AT me in this photo. It really feels different and I hope she enjoys the improvement.

  7. and yet my first reaction at that picture was, wow, those glasses hide the Down Syndrome.

  8. I think she looks like any other adorable little girl! Sophie will be beautiful no matter what glasses she wears. That smile combined with being able to see will ensure it.

  9. Ugh, I am right here with ya. My son got his first pair of glasses about four months ago and I…well, I hate putting them on him. I feel the same as you do, that they just hide his *magic* somehow. I totally get that he looks adorable to most people, but I hate those damn glasses. He’s too small for anything but the standard-issue rubber, non-breakable frames. Sigh. I had his teachers put them on him at school but will confess I did not make him wear them at home.

    I recently noticed that his eyes were going wonkier than usual so had to kick my own ass and accept that I am failing as his mom if I don’t make him wear them because of my own hang-ups. So, on they go. I guess at least he’s unlikely to ever pick Barbie…;)

  10. Barbie brand or not, Sophie is stylin’! Mine were thick, thick dark purple plastic under a Dorothy Hammill haircut and driving home with my new pair was the first time I saw “over a million sold” on the McDonald’s sign. She can sit with you at the “book club” table now!

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