Comparing Notes: A First Pair of Eyeglasses

October 19, 2012 in Parenting

This will be my first post in a continuing series, “Comparing Notes”, where I (or a guest blogger) will discuss gender differences as it relates to some aspect of raising our kids.  Hope you enjoy it and if you’re interested in being a guest blogger for this series, please contact me at: or email me via my Contact form. (Please note that parents raising both genders would be ideal candidates for guest blogging, but I am open to anyone contributing!)

We knew it was coming. After Little Dude essentially failed his eye exam at his annual checkup, we knew he needed glasses.  Frankly, I was a little shocked that he might need glasses at such a young age (8) since both my husband and me did not need them until college.  We took him to an ophthalmologist, who confirmed that indeed he would need glasses soon.  She held off for about a year and then when he started 3rd grade this year, the doctor said it was time.

I immediately worried about how Little Dude would handle needing to wear glasses.  I recalled my own experience in college, when I finally admitted to myself that I could not see a darn thing in those expansive lecture halls.

“Why is the Professor writing so lightly on the board? It’s so hard to see!” I complained to my friend.

“Emily, you better take yourself to Lenscrafters.  I think you need some specs,” she bluntly replied.

It turned out that another college friend also discovered that he needed glasses so the two of us went to the mall together to pick out our frames.  My friend picked out a handsome pair of wire frames that seemed to naturally belong on his face.  I tried on frame after frame and nothing seemed to look right on my freckled cheeks. He finally convinced me to go with peach-colored plastic frames, which seemed to blend with my skin.  Except, there was only one problem: I hated wearing them.  I only wore them in class if I absolutely needed them.  Otherwise, I refused to wear them, especially out in public or in front of my boyfriend.  I was as self-conscious as Jan was during that “Brady Bunch” episode.  Okay, I know I’m dating myself here, but if any of you grew up in the 1970’s, you’d recall when Jan had to get glasses and subsequently took them off when she rode her bike to see her friends.  Poor Jan crashes her bike into the garage and realizes from then on that she must wear her specs.  Well, I wasn’t about to wear my glasses on my bike or driving my Honda around campus. No way, Jose. Watching me squint at the movies one night, my boyfriend (now my husband) suggested I try wearing contact lenses.  Which I did.  I was a contact lens convert within days. And just like that, my self-confidence was restored by Bausch & Lomb.

Little Dude, only in 3rd grade, cannot go the contact lens route yet.  Maybe in a few years, but for now he’s gotta wear those glasses.  I did what any parent would do and told him how handsome he looked (which he did), how the other kids will think it’s cool (which they did), and how he’ll love being able to see the board (which he does).  Just in case, I emailed Little Dude’s teacher ahead of time to forewarn him about this transition and how my son might be a little self-conscious to wear them at first.  I told him my son might need some gentle encouragement to wear the glasses.  When I drove him to school the morning of  “day one of glasses” he said he thought he might feel embarrassed wearing them.  I said all the right things (I think) and reassured him that some of the kids won’t even notice and the others who did will think they look cool.  My husband didn’t think the other kids would pose a problem, because as only a protective father could say, “he’ll just kick that kid’s butt if he teases him.”  I rolled my eyes, but I knew he was right.

And that’s where the boy versus girl comparison comes in.  When it comes to debuting that first pair of eyeglasses, I think that young boys may have an easier time with the situation than girls.  A young girl will surely worry about how she looks and more importantly, what her friends will think.  A girl in those awkward middle school years will most certainly worry about whether the glasses make her look “ugly.” I think a young boy is not really concerned with how he looks all that much.  My son’s biggest concern was how he’d wear glasses when playing baseball. (Thank God for those cool-looking Rec Specs!). He too may be anxious about what the other kids will say, but as my husband so vividly pointed out, if you’ve got the kind of kid who doesn’t take crap from others, he’s got nothing to worry about in the peer department.  My Little Dude is as sweet as they come, but he’s also no pushover.  If you cross or insult him, you’ll know it.  Little dudettes won’t necessarily be throwing punches if someone makes fun of their new glasses.  Those girls may fight back with words or else they will go home and sob, and will proclaim that they’ll never wear their eyewear ever again.  Just like self-conscious Jan on the Brady Bunch.

My son was oh so smart about how he handled the change.  He told his classmates ahead of time that he got a new pair of glasses, which he’d be bringing to school the next day.  He talked about it like he was bringing the latest and greatest Xbox game to school.  The kids couldn’t wait to see his new “toy.” When Little Dude pulled the glasses out the next day, his classmates all told him how good he looked.  He felt so comfortable wearing them that when I picked him up from school, he was still wearing the glasses, which he really only needs for distance at this point.  After only one day, he was a confident, eyeglass-wearing boy.  He was no Jan Brady!

I do realize that this whole experience was more about me, and my traumatic memories at a Lenscrafters in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1987 than about my son’s new glasses.  But still, I do think us ladies, whether young or old(er), have a wee bit more ego invested in the eyeglass department.  I am now 47 years old (I can’t believe I just put that in print) and guess what happens at this age?  I now need reading glasses.  So far, I have only worn them in the privacy of my home.  But, one of these days, very soon, I’m going to learn a lesson from my very own son, and wear my reading glasses out in public with confidence and pride.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Janine Huldie October 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Emily I loved this, because I too had to get glasses in 2nd grade and at that point I was too young to be self conscious and just couldn’t wait to get my new glasses, but as I got older just in time for middle school and high school, I was so self conscious and remember being so very happy to finally be able to get contact lenses. But by the time I was almost 20 years old my my vision was so poor that I needed contact lenses for an astigmatism and I was about 20/500 for my near sightedness. So I ended up getting laser surgery for my 22nd birthday thanks to my grandparents and have never had to wear another pair of glasses or contact lenses too. Long story short I could totally relate to this on the girl spectrum, because I too just hated my damn glasses and how I looked in them in my teen years. Great job here Emily and love this new series :)


ohboymom October 19, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Thanks Janine. I have a feeling laser surgery could be in my son’s future too since he loves playing sports, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Glad you could relate to the girl self-conscious thing and glad you like the series so far!


Julie October 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Stop fighting the fight! Wear the reading glasses! (It feels soooo good!) :)


ohboymom October 19, 2012 at 4:55 pm

I know, I know…


Amy October 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm

I still struggle with this too! I hate wearing my glasses in public to this day(I’ve had them since the first grade). When my daughter needed them in first grade, I wasn’t surprised. And I wasn’t surprised that she didn’t want to wear them because she was afraid someone would make fun of her. I love that this wasn’t a problem for your son! It’s so nice that his friends were so supportive!
And, I’m 40 and I already need reading glasses…but I am refusing. I think I should wait until i am at least 41 to have to wear them! :)


ohboymom October 19, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Thanks Amy for your comment…I started to need reading glasses the second I turned 40, but I held out until now. I’d say you have a good 5-7 years left to refuse wearing them! :)


Cyndi October 19, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Awesome post! It sounds like Little Dude is adjusting well. :) Now, the new trick will be to keep him from breaking them. I used to work at an eye doctor’s office back in college, and it always seemed like the boys were breaking their glasses. If you can, make sure that the glasses have a warranty – even if you have to pay extra. It’ll save you money. :)


ohboymom October 19, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Uh oh, I didn’t think of the warranty issue…I’ll remember that for pair #2, which I hope is not soon! Thanks for the advice and for reading!


Stacy Harris October 19, 2012 at 10:19 pm

I think glasses are kind of a personal thing. When I was younger someone told me that I looked like Linda Carter… I guess depending on the color I use for my hair, I could easily pull it off (right now it is too light!) Well, needless to say, I somehow convinced myself that I needed glasses and I convinced the doctor too. (Don’t ask – I sitll don’t know how I managed to get prescription glasses!) Anyway, they were just for reading and close up stuff. But I wanted them so I could be like Super Woman. (I know – geeky – and you were up there talking about Jan Brady!) But those glasses gave me such a bad headache I couldn’t wear them and I couldn’t force myself to get used to them. Now, my vision is actually better than 20/20 – don’t ask how I ever got a prescription for glasses!


ohboymom October 19, 2012 at 11:40 pm

Stacy, I agree about glasses being a personal thing. I do think you were in the minority wanting glasses, though I get wanting to look like Linda Carter.:) So ironic that you still don’t even need glasses!


Melanie October 20, 2012 at 5:33 am

Haha! We so do have a lot more issues with them. I got my first pair when I was 12 or 13. At THAT age.. I was brave – wore them to school the next day. And what does one little boy say? “Where’d you get those Melanie, out of a lucky packet?” I wanted to die. I didn’t wear them again. Big mistake. Now I can’t watch TV or drive without wearing glasses. I’m squeamish and can’t touch my eye so I don’t bother with contacts. Luckily, there are A LOT more cool frames out there today, so I’ll change when I have a bit saved up for a decent pair of frames :) You can make them look cool – you just got to get a great set of frames!


ohboymom October 20, 2012 at 9:16 pm

I agree Melanie — lots of cool frames out there now. I just bought a funky pair of reading glasses that I won’t be embarrassed to wear out in public…


Angie October 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm

I am excited to read your series about the gender issues. We have two older girls and when our son came along we were determined to be gender neutral parents. But to our surprise–we did not have a gender neutral son! He drove the baby carriage instead of pushing it; he fixed the kitchen; he dismembered the dolls. We are not the same parents as we were to the girls. It is all very interesting.


ohboymom October 20, 2012 at 9:13 pm

I agree Angie. One of the gender differences I plan to write about soon is during the time when my middle son was younger and I was in a playgroup with him and all girls — very interesting indeed! Thanks for reading!


Cari Lorine October 20, 2012 at 9:30 pm

It’s amazing how brave kids can be! Especially when compared to adults! It sounds like your son is a great combination of you and your husband. I’m sure you’ve got many more adventures to share, and the gender issue is really interesting.


ohboymom October 20, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Thanks Cari and you’re right, kids can be so much more courageous than us, as well as resilient. I’ve got lots to learn from my boys!


clark October 21, 2012 at 7:55 pm

(apology in advance)

Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!

Speaking from the ‘Y’ side of the fence, glasses are not such a treat for small boys either! (Even as I see these words appear, I feel that un-named dread grow in anticipation of the ‘yes, but that was back when you were young, kids are different to each other nowadays), oh well, ‘in for a penny’…

For my grade school self, having to wear glasses was a fate worse than, than…wearing braces! It was not that I was self-conscious in the 4th grade, and tortoise shell frames certainly accentuated my blue eyes, lol But no, at that time glasses were so to be avoided that I simply stopped wearing them… (gradually, of course, I knew enough to do it slowly so the parental unit would not notice.)
And here I am, many years later quite healthy, my eyesight is normal for my demographic and depth perception? way over-rated!

Enjoyed the Post


ohboymom October 21, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Thanks for the comment Clark and no apology necessary! I’m glad to see someone else appreciates the Brady Bunch reference.:) And yes, I could see how wearing glasses “back then — in our day” would be more difficult whether you were a boy or girl. After all, they made a whole show about it with Jan Brady!:) Anyway, I do appreciate your input and glad you enjoyed the post.


Roshni October 26, 2012 at 4:46 am

OMG!! Big A is also 8 and he just got glasses this year and we just had the same conversation about school and how his friends would react!


ohboymom October 26, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Roshni, I hope Big A had a good experience with his friends after debuting his new glasses. My son doesn’t think twice about it now, and I think he’s just so happy he can see the board in the classroom now!


agil May 5, 2015 at 4:54 am

I think both boys and girls respond much the same way to receiving the news they need glasses. Namely embarrassment and extreme self consciousness at the thought of wearing them in front of others and in public.
I remember the first day I got my glasses like it was yesterday: I was amazed at how well I could see and how much brighter and more vivid everything was, but I also remember being very self conscious at the thought of having to wear them in front of others and to school on Monday morning. For me my life in glasses started on a Friday afternoon, so I was lucky in that I had the weekend to start getting used to them and show my friends and get their input on my new look, which improved my confidence level tremendously. I also had an older sister who had already gone down the same road and she told me the first day at school would be the hardest and longest day in my life of wearing glasses, but it wouldn’t be as bad as I was imagining and within a couple days nobody would care that I was wearing glasses. So that Monday I put them on and went off to school and yes, the day was the longest day of my life, but it was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be: some kids commented on them, some wanted to try them on and some didn’t seem to notice, but the really big thing was, nobody made fun of me for having them on and that was a huge boost to my self consciousness. The next day only a few comments were made about my glasses and by the third day, nobody said anything or even cared that I was wearing glasses. From that day on the only time anyone has said anything about my glasses is when I get new ones and that is just an in passing comment like ” hey, you got new glasses!”
For me getting glasses caused me to grow up a bit because I was able to face my fears of being and appearing different and I overcame them. The thing that I learned thru the process was that the fear was completely unfounded and was all in my head and I was the only one who really cared about my glasses!


ohboymom May 6, 2015 at 9:16 pm

Thank you for sharing your experience…I think you’re right that it’s usually all in a person’s head of how they think they will be perceived with glasses.


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