I took the kids for their first eye test this morning. On reflection, I was more concerned about toddler meltdowns than the end result, and we were all looking forward to piling into Costa afterwards for two babychinos and a (self-congratulatory) mummy latte. After all, I’ve done pretty well this month… Haircut – tick, dentist – tick, eye test…
I knew something was awry as soon as the optician plonked a large pile of multi-coloured stickers on her desk and told the kids to take their time choosing. Emily had volunteered to go before Jess, announcing each letter and animal with her usual confidence. When it was Jess’ turn she started getting fidgety straightaway. When asked to repeat her answers she glanced more at me than the wall.
‘You’re daughter’s left eye has slight astigmatism. It’s very common. It can cause blurriness. She’ll need to wear glasses, at least until the problem corrects itself. Perhaps longer.’ I stared at the optician in shock. ‘Not all the time surely?’ I muttered. My mind was whirring. I’ve never had to wear glasses except for driving. Matt’s still 20/20. Surely this nice lady with the perfect black eyeliner flick had made a mistake?
Not so. The optician was 85% sure of her diagnosis but she’s booked Jess in for more tests next week to confirm. I fixed a smile on my face, the one we mums crack open when we’re treading water on the inside but need to portray a manic level of calm to our offspring, and crossed the road to Costa. Ten minutes later Matt joined us and asked how it went.
That’s when I burst into tears.
I’m still trying to rationalize my reaction now. In society’s ‘eyes’ is Jess not ‘perfect’ anymore? It’s such a ridiculous thing to write that I’m rolling my own as I do it. Jess is super-smart, confident and feisty as hell. Playground bullies wouldn’t dare… Besides, this isn’t the 1960s. The NHS isn’t doling out thick black frames anymore. She’ll have a lovely pair of glasses, the best that money can buy. Unbreakable frames, prescription sunnies and swimming goggles… sign us up for the lot. Nothing’s going to hold her back. And glasses are cool nowadays anyway. She’ll be bang on trend before she’s even four.
Was it something I did? Have I allowed her to watch too much television? Is it all my fault? FFS. I was wondering when Mother’s Guilt was going to rear her ugly, bastard head. Matt had to smack this one down for me. ‘It’s probably genetic, you idiot!’ He has a point. My sight may be ok but members of my close family have always had issues.
We parents like to self-flagellate but we’re also pretty good at looking on the upside of stuff too (once we’ve had a super-sized gin and the kids are in bed). Jess is NOT facing a long, arduous battle with some awful disease. Her astigmatism ISN’T that bad. She’s so young that it may even correct itself in the next few years (mini high-five for mummy vigilance). If not then we’ll investigate semi-permanent contact lenses. Two of her friends already wear glasses and, best of all, she’ll be able to SEE!!!
That’s the whole point isn’t it?
*This blog post has also appeared on The Huffington Post