How I Helped My Niece See the Good in Glasses
Written By Savvy Auntie Staff Writers
By Katelyn Fry
I was in fifth grade. My mom was taking me to what I assumed would be a normal check-up with my pediatrician. The doctor measured my weight and height, examined my ears and lungs, and then, he gave me eye exam.
My doctor handed me a tool to cover each eye and instructed me to read the letters listed on the poster across the room. I remember hearing a hint of uneasiness in his tone when I was done and said, “Alright, Katelyn. Good job.”
I waited patiently as he and my mom spoke privately. And then came the news: I needed glasses.
To my ten-year-old self, this was earth-shattering news. Glasses? I thought to myself, as nicknames like “four eyes” raced through my mind. Not to mention, I played basketball and as far as I knew, that meant wearing goggles during every game and practice.
Well, fifteen years later, I could not be more grateful that my poor vision was caught so early, nor can I get over how silly and unnecessary my reaction to having to wear glasses was. I am particularly thankful for it in this moment because it is now my turn to help someone else cope with the news of needing glasses: my nine-year-old niece.
My niece found out last Friday that she’ll be needing glasses and her response was very similar to mine. She is dreading it, to say the least. Luckily, a recent sleepover at my place, helped.
Once I entered high school, I made the switch to contacts and really only use my glasses at night when I go to bed. And this past weekend, I had my niece come over for a sleepover, and I whipped out my old frames. As soon as my niece saw me in glasses, her face lit up and she asked: “When did you get those?!” She was even more surprised to hear that I’ve had them almost all my life!
I told her all about my experience when I was her age – how scared and embarrassed I was, how I repeatedly insisted I could see just fine on my own (she had been giving my sister the same exact argument), and how I was terrified about what this would mean for my juvenile basketball career (she is an avid soccer and lacrosse player and like me, refuses to wear goggles).
See also: How Preschooler Eyesight Today Affects Literacy Later
Then, I got to the good parts.
“When the doctor gave you the eye exam and tried out different lenses, couldn’t you read the letters so much better?”
“Yeah,” she said reluctantly.
“Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could see like that all the time?” I asked as enthusiastically as I could.
“I guess so.”
“Think about your next soccer game. Imagine seeing the players and the field and the ball like that. You’re already a star, but just think how much better you’ll be when you could see that much clearer!”
Finally, a small smile started to break out.
“What about school? I used to get headaches all the time because I had to squint my eyes so hard to try and read the chalkboard. Does that ever happen to you?”
“Yeah, sometimes,” she admitted, and proceeded to tell me she often has to copy her classmate’s notes because of it, or just doesn’t take any notes at all.
“Think about how much easier it will be when you don’t have to ask anyone for their notes, and how much better you could do in class because you won’t be missing any notes at all anymore!”
By this point, her facial expression had significantly started to relax.
“And, guess what?” I asked her, having saved what I knew would make her the happiest for last. “They make special glasses for people who play sports. You won’t have to wear any goggles anytime soon.”
There it was – the real big smile I was waiting for.
“They make special glasses that are made out of something called Titanium, and you can bend them a million different ways and they won’t break! You can practically tie them in a knot!”
“No way! They do?!” My niece asked as she sat up in the chair with excitement.
Having finally alleviated most of her anxiety, I wrapped up the conversation by promising her I would go with her next week to pick out her new glasses, guaranteeing her we would pick out the coolest ones we could find. And of course, I’ll be wearing my own pair so we match.
If your niece or nephew learns that they need glasses, they may react very similarly to my own niece. Take the focus off of the glasses and reassure them of the many benefits. You can join them when they get their first pair, and maybe try a few on yourself and ask their opinion to make them feel more comfortable. Who knows? Maybe you’ll both walk out with a brand new pair!
Regardless, in no time they will see how silly their fears were – no pun intended ;)
Photo: Anna Nahabed
Published: March 29, 2017