I recently saw a Today Show segment that struck a chord with me. A four-year-old boy, Noah Fisher, burst into tears when faced with having to wear his new glasses to school. Even at a young age, he was afraid other kids would make fun of him for looking different. So his mom took action. She posted a photo of Noah in glasses on her personal Facebook page to help cheer up her son - and the response to the photo was something she never would have imagined.
As she said during her Today Show interview, people remarked about how handsome Noah looked wearing glasses. They also shared photos of themselves in glasses. They were united in their collective effort to help make a young boy feel special for being himself - with glasses. The overwhelming support of her son - and his glasses - caused his mom to set up a dedicated Facebook page, Glasses for Noah. Today, it has more than 71,000 likes and showcases photos of people of all ages, from all over the world wearing glasses.
I was thrilled by the Today Show story and the resulting social media support. Why? Because my oldest son has worn glasses since he was two years old.
More than six years later, I still remember my initial reaction to his diagnosis and the idea that he'd need to wear glasses and stand out as being different from his peers even at two years old. And, I can recall my fear that he'd have a tougher road ahead for him in toddlerhood and beyond.
The reality of a kid in glasses - for the parents and the child
My husband and I are forever thankful to our pediatrician who caught a potential issue with our sons' vision at such an early age. He referred us to a pediatric ophthalmologist just to be safe - and we're so glad he did. Our sons' doctor caught that he had amblyopia, which untreated can result in a large difference in the degree of nearsightedness or farsightedness between the two eyes. But, it was treatable - with glasses.
I still remember learning the news and wanting to protect our son from potential teasing from his peers. He was only two years old, yet we feared that he would be labeled as different and face unforeseen challenges in his young life.
In retrospect, I know it was a bit silly. Our son was healthy and could have near perfect vision just by wearing glasses. But, still as a parent, your initial reaction is always to protect your children - no matter what. And, in this case, I wanted to protect him from the future - and any added childhood hardships from being labeled and seen as different.
But, as I soon learned, there were no hardships, just new opportunities all because of his glasses.
The innocence and acceptance of kids by kids
I am thrilled to say that my son has never been teased for wearing glasses. We're lucky that all of his friends throughout the years have accepted him for wearing glasses, which I guess is one of the benefits that comes from wearing them from such an early age.
While we feared that our son would be singled out for being different. We were totally wrong. He was singled out - for being special.
To this day, we get stopped on the street by people who comment on how much they like our son's glasses. New teachers and friends are always quick to remember our son because he's the one in glasses. The glasses are just a part of him - part of the whole eight-year-old package.
Why wouldn't a kid want to wear glasses?
Yesterday, I asked our older son if he likes wearing his glasses. He said he loves wearing his glasses.
When I asked him what people say to him about his glasses, he quickly replied that they say he looks cool or the glasses are awesome. His reply was simply stating a fact, without any hesitation that anyone would ever say anything different. He has never had a reason to wonder if anyone would say something negative about his glasses. That's comforting to me - and hopefully to anyone else with a son or daughter about to embark on a childhood with glasses - even young Noah Fisher.
After wearing them for six plus years, our son just wouldn't be himself without his glasses. He puts them on first thing in the morning and takes them off right before he closes his eyes at bedtime.
He has never once refused to wear his glasses. In fact, sometimes my husband and I are the ones that have to ask him not to wear them - just when we think they're in jeopardy of breaking from getting jumped on in an inflatable "bouncy" house or from wearing a helmet while fencing at school.
Yes, we've been through many pairs of glasses over the years. And, each time, our son can't wait to get the new pair - the same ones our eyeglass store has been able to track down for us again and again and again.
Our son's love of glasses is contagious
When our younger son turned two years old, we took him to our pediatric ophthalmologist to get his eyes tested. Since amblyopia could be hereditary, we wanted to see if he might need corrective glasses, too.
At the end of our visit to the pediatric ophthalmologist our young son cried. Why? Because he didn't need glasses. And, that was something he did not want to hear.
For both of my sons, I'm glad that they embraced their own unique differences - and I hope that Noah Fisher and any other kid in glasses does, too.
All kids are special no matter what differences or challenges they face in life. I'm glad Noah Fisher's mom took to Facebook to let the world back that up and make her young son smile - this mom sure did, too.
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