There may be people out there who put faux glasses on their infants and toddlers, but I am not one of them. Just ask my pediatric ophthalmologist. Truthfully though, do these parents even exist? I guess it would be a hard thing to admit, a bizarre harmless spin of munchausen by proxy. All of the mothers I know and particularly the ones I adore, admit they rarely even force their young children into button down shirts, allowing sports clothes on Sundays too as an argument over clothes is just not worth the fight and the point of church is to be there, right?
I have become her too and the days of knee socks and double buckle shoes live only in my memories and pictures for my oldest three. Amos, the glasses wearer, still quite willingly allows himself to be dressed in whatever I choose. However, I can not imagine throwing glasses on a two year old just as a fashion accessory. However, I have heard it time and time again, the bizarre question, "Are those REAL glasses"?
"Nothing on but fake glasses." That takes the cake. For almost two years, I have answered, very patiently I may add, questions about my youngest son's glasses. Too many people to count have queried if they were real, why he wore glasses, and many had asked how we knew he needed them, how tests were performed for the youngest bespectacled members of our population. I have sometimes been a smarty pants but normally work through the genuine and honest questions that I would rather be asked than wondered silently. Truthfully, the whole thing confuses me too, but then again, so does the Internet.
For children, I always have infinite patience and never grow tired of turning the question back to the curious child, asking them, "Why do YOU think he wears glasses?". Their puzzled expressions always grow into broad smiles and they sheepishly but proudly reply, "So he can see!". Of course, that was why. Before Amos, I could not recall ever seeing such a young baby wear glasses either and a bespectacled six month old incited curiosity. Now, that being said, well-meaning curiosity is always fine but rushing to judgment deserves my very best evil retorts.
The first time it occurred was at a parent night at school and the father in question offered sarcastically that he couldn't believe I would put my baby in fake glasses. I was kind in those early days and told him they were actually real glasses. His eyes widened and mouth agape, asked how we knew his prescription. I could not help but say in all seriousness that this darling baby, not yet one year old, could actually read. After his jaw dropped and he could only say, "Really"?! I said a simple no.
More recently, I overhear the wearing glasses observation from likely nice people who typically ask my mother if they are real. She loves to talk to a stranger and has a strange way of wearing a look on her face that invites conversation at the most inopportune times, similar to the conversation your husband may begin as you leave a cocktail party. Regrettably, she also abhors conflict so I smile sweetly and allow her to offer the long story that I am sure makes the person sorry they asked in the first place. My kind mother who seemingly has nothing but time on a late afternoon grocery store run goes through the whole story.
The, "Nothing on but fake glasses" was offered by an older gentleman, in his seventies I would guess and a confident devil I thought at the time. Come to find out he was a retired physician and I thought to myself, at least I haven't lost my touch of deciphering the personal details of strangers. Amos was stark naked and meandering the beach on this evening, his clothes had been immediately soaked from a dip in the ocean. Ever unprepared, I had not considered swimming on an outing planned to burn up energy and talk with friends over a glass of wine. And so, he was naked and quite happy and at two years old, it seemed acceptable. He had been quite happy to climb in and out of an abandoned hole but soon meandered down the way and came upon a couple. Hence, the fake glasses comment.
Perhaps the glass of wine has loosened my tongue or maybe the hours of waiting on hold with BCBS had pushed me to the edge but I offered a quick retort, something less common for these days. I asked quickly if I looked like someone who would put their toddler in fake glasses? My bare feet, torn jeans, tribe of children did not spark a thought of someone, a glutton who needed to take on this type of punishment. I sighed an audible sigh and the woman with him smiled apologetically. "No harm", I offered and led him back to his sandpit.
I shouldn't have been quick to be a smart ass and he shouldn't have been quick to make assumptions. Assumptions that inadvertently feel like judgements and so, my old mantra comes back again, for both of us this time, me and him.
If what you are about to say doesn't make someone feel good, then don't say it. Take pause and think and I will too.