I can see clearly now

Isaac doing his best Joe 90 impression

Retro NHS glassesOne thing’s for sure: Heather didn’t marry me for my genes. I’m asthmatic, diabetic, prone to skin problems and so short-sighted I make Mr Magoo look like he had 20/20 vision. So, particularly given that she wears glasses too, it was only a matter of time before Isaac followed suit.

Me and my glasses

I’ve worn glasses since I was about seven. Back then, I was the first kid in my class to wear those horrible thick-set NHS glasses (like the ones above). I can still remember what it was like in those weeks and months before I got my first pair. Struggling to read words written on the blackboard. Not being able to pick out faces across the school playground. Everything being ever so slightly out of focus.

I also remember what it was like in those weeks and months after I started wearing glasses, being subjected to taunts of “four eyes” with the kind of thoughtless cruelty only a child (or a psychopath, or a psychopathic child) can apply. There were days I went home in tears and wished I could go back to not wearing them.

Nowadays, of course, having worn glasses every day for over 35 years, my glasses feel as much a part of me as my fingers, toes and protruding muffin-top. I take comfort in the fact that I can constantly see the edges of my frames in my peripheral vision. When I briefly flirted with contact lenses in my mid-20s I hated the experience: without the comforting weight and visibility of my frames I felt almost naked. My glasses are an integral part of my identity, to the extent that when I look at myself in the mirror without them I can barely recognise myself. They’re just me.

Isaac doing his best Joe 90 impression
Isaac doing his best Joe 90 impression

Isaac and his new accessory

We suspected that Isaac’s eyesight was beginning to deteriorate around Christmas-time when, for example, it became increasingly obvious that he preferred to sit closer and closer to the TV. So it was no surprise that when Heather took him to have his eyes tested recently he was diagnosed as being short-sighted.

Thankfully, things are very different for Isaac. For one thing, despite being only five, he is far from being the first child in his class to wear glasses (he’s the fifth). Then there’s the fact that he has been fascinated by glasses for ages. One of his favourite activities whenever I used to take him to Tesco to have a babyccino in the in-store Costa would be to stop at the opticians and try on various frames, assessing how good they looked on him in the mirror. I explained to him at least 18 months ago why I wear glasses and how they help me to see better, so there’s nothing new or scary about them for him.

Indeed, when he was told that he would need to wear glasses, he was thrilled at the prospect, carefully picking out some frames which suited him and being actively disappointed when he realised he wouldn’t be able to wear them straight away. However, he finally got them yesterday and promptly spent the entire afternoon carefully and gleefully putting them on and taking them off like some kind of favourite new trinket.

In some ways I’m a little sad that I’ve passed on one of my own imperfections to him so early in his life – sorry, kiddo – but I’m so pleased he doesn’t see his new glasses as a negative thing. On the contrary, he genuinely seems to like them. I’m also quietly pleased that he’s in a school environment where glasses are commonplace enough for him not to stand out in the crowd, which hopefully means he won’t be subject to the teasing I endured.

Finally, I suppose Isaac’s new glasses are yet another reminder of how quickly he’s growing up. Without glasses, he has always looked like a serious and studious little boy. With them, he now looks like a serious and studious big boy. My elder son is becoming more like his father in so many ways. I just hope that I’ve managed to pass on some of the good stuff as well as the bad stuff.