Remember your days as an elementary student? When did you start using the word “cool” to label one’s looks? Was it back then? When you used that word did it describe someone wearing glasses? I’m guessing not. It seems that for ages glasses have been synonymous with nerdiness, and the title of this blog may seem to be an oxymoron; however, I believe the times are a changin’.
I remember being in fourth grade and being so ashamed to tell my teacher that I couldn’t see the math facts on the overhead projector (something that is so not cool to use these days). When she turned her back I would secretly shimmy out of my seat on the back row in an effort to steal a better view of the numbers up there. The day I was caught out of my seat I quickly pretended to tie my shoe…my Jordache sneaker from Kmart that other kids had deemed uncool. It wasn’t up to par with the latest craze that only 2% of our class could afford – cue the background choir of angels – Air Jordan’s. Someone even called me “Air Jordache” for a few weeks.
The night that I was busted for squinting in the aisle I confessed to my mom that I couldn’t see, perhaps the teacher even called her. I sort of blocked parts of the aftermath from my memory. I do remember the utter devastation I felt when the optometrist stated the obvious, “You need glasses.” As soon as he left the room and shut the door of that tiny, dark exam room, I crawled into my mom’s lap. Basically in fetal position in her arms I cried my broken eyes out. I was dreading the torment that would come with my “four eyes,” but you know what, at first life with glasses wasn’t really that bad. That sort of tormenting began in middle school, and then, I ditched the glasses for contact lenses and have been wearing them ever since - for twenty-three years. Well, not that original pair. I can only imagine how much dough my parents and I have spent over the years on these tiny little miracles.
As a kid, I shook off “Air Jordache” with all of the other horrid nicknames that came my way during those funtastic grade school years. As an adult I like to think that my character is far more developed than that of all those little bullies. I can be tough. I speak my mind (well, maybe way too much…). This mindset set in high school when I was dubbed, “Killer Rose,” thanks to my ability to foul out of a basketball game no sooner than had I left my seat on the bench. My best friend’s dad thought it was hysterical to shout that name out as our team was greeted by Rebel fans from the stands. He’d hoot and holler that little nickname he gave me as loud and as proud as he could, and I must admit, I ate it up, too. I was more of a bench player anyway, so when fouls were needed I was my team’s go-to player.
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I digress…I preach anti-bullying whenever I can to my kids. Like a broken record I tell them it’s not polite to call others names. Maybe this preaching will make my kids dorky and such over time when they repeat it to their friends, but to me they’ll always be pretty darn cool at the core. And, well, let’s be honest, the nice kids and dorks are the cool kids later in life. I speak from experience.
As genetics would have it, my son failed his vision screening at his recent well check. I had fully anticipated that he would. I took him to the optometrist, and he was so stoked to go. It amazed me. He was even more stoked when the optometrist turned to me and said, “Well, mom, he’s going to be a lifetime glasses wearer.” He shouted, “What? I get to get glasses!?” As the doc confirmed, he did his signature move, a Jersey-style fist pumping action that I’m sure he fashioned from some end-zone celebration that he’s witnessed. He was thrilled to get glasses! I was thrilled that he was thrilled! There’s nothing wrong with this boy’s confidence – yet…I fear the day he’s met with cruel nicknames and what not.When he finally got to select his frames he turned to me with his new specs on, and said, “Mom, now, I look even cooler.” Now, I think that is cool, and even cooler is the fact that he’ll be able to see the Smartboard in his classroom (naturally I was snookered into paying for the additional anti-glare feature to make certain of this). His little sister jealously chimed in, “Urgh, I want glasses, too!” When he dons his new prescription sports goggles (like a Smartboard these are something I also never had), look out, opposing team, because he’s going to be a cool “killer” on the court and on the field!