A few weeks ago, my five-year-old son came home from school complaining of blurry vision and insisted we go buy him glasses. He refused to get his vision checked. No. He wanted to skip that important step and get right to the buying glasses part. After pressing him a bit, he admitted that his vision was actually fine. He just wanted glasses.
Why the sudden desire for my kindergartener to get glasses? His older brother had them since he was two years old. The day my younger son came home from school complaining of blurry vision was a day when his older brother received lots of compliments on his glasses, without anyone sending any compliments his way.
While he'd previously been okay being the brother without glasses, that one afternoon of hearing compliments bestowed on his older brother again and again changed things. He wanted glasses of his own - now.
To help try to cheer him up about the fact that he doesn't need glasses, I dug out the round, wire-rim glasses he wore as part of his Harry Potter costume last Halloween.
The $5 glasses came in a pack we plucked off a metal rack at Party City. Made to fit any child, the glasses were much too big for my five-year-old son's face. They slipped from his nose whenever he walked, and he took to walking with his eyes looking up at the ceiling to help them stay in place. But, that didn't matter to him one bit. In his mind, he was going to wear those glasses all the time - just like his older brother.
Pretending his fake glasses were real
My younger son wore his Harry Potter glasses the rest of the weekend. I asked him to take them off to play basketball - just like his older brother. I washed them with special glasses wipes - just like I always do for his older brother. I humored his insistence that his glasses helped him to see better - just like the glasses his older brother has worn for so many years.
When Monday came, he put on his typically school accessories - his watch and his scorpion necklace - with one addition. Yes, that day he put on his glasses - and I let him wear them to school.
At pick up from school that day, he ran up to me still proudly wearing his glasses. He visibly beamed with excitement when sharing tale after tale of the compliments teachers and friends bestowed on his glasses. He even declared that his glasses helped him see better.
I figured wearing his fake glasses was okay. It made him happy. It gave him confidence. It was just one more accessory to put on
in the morning. But, with each day, he became more attached to his glasses, became more convinced they helped him see better, and became more insistent on wearing them each day.
All kids are characters. All kids have vivid imaginations. It can't do any harm. People would have to know they're fake glasses. Right? Lesson learned. People assume kids who wear glasses need glasses - even if they're Harry Potter glasses.
Time to set the record straight
His classmates told their parents my son had new glasses. His teacher politely suggested to me that his glasses were too big for him. A parent tried to entice her daughter to wear her real glasses to school so she could be just like my son.
When I saw that everyone assumed his glasses were real, I tried to set the record straight. I told his teachers and other parents that his glasses weren't actually real. Everyone was shocked. But, I figured that no damage was done. It was just a kid being a kid, letting his imagination run wild.
Then I found out about the vision test at school.
Several weeks ago, the school nurse sent an email to parents about the vision and hearing tests they were going to conduct at school. Since my older son has been under the regular care of an eye doctor for more than six years, I asked that he not be tested. I did grant my permission for his hearing to be tested. I said it was fine to perform both tests on my younger son.
The day of the vision and hearing tests, my sons came home with tales of how it all went. My older son stated that he didn't take the vision test. My younger son said he took the vision test - with his glasses.
At the time, my husband and I chuckled at the mental picture of him standing in front of a health professional attempting to have his vision tested in fake glasses. They had to know the glasses weren't real, right?
When pretend play transcends real life - and lands on a school record
The other day, our sons came home from school with their respective vision and hearing test reports. On the vision section of my older son's report, the box for "glasses" was checked off. Underneath it was a note that said the lenses of his glasses had some scratches and he should get new ones. Then we looked at my younger son's report. On the vision section of his report, the box for "glasses" was checked off, too. And, there underneath that section was a note that said there was some scratches on the lenses, but they were okay.
I can only assume that the health professional actually picked up and inspected his glasses and deemed them to be real - just like his older brother's glasses.
But, His glasses have weak wire frames, they're way too big for his face, and there aren't any nose pads for the glasses to rest on the bridge of his nose. How could they think they were real? And, how could they say that my older son's two-month-old real glasses needed new lenses while my younger son's fake glasses were okay? I guess my younger son is destined for Hollywood fame after all.
After I dried the tears from my eyes, I knew I had to set two more things straight in kindergarten glasses-gate.
First, we spoke in earnest with our younger son about the need to try to distinguish fantasy from reality - and that reality being that his pretend glasses weren't in fact helping him see any better at all.
Now, I need to get up the nerve to tell the school nurse that we need to correct the vision test results that are now on file at school. I am dreading the need to say: Please uncheck the "glasses" box as I don't think it applies to fake ones, too.
Of course, that same evening, the now infamous glasses broke apart. Miraculously, my younger son took it all in stride. He's told his classmates they're broken so he can't wear them anymore. And, we've begun to ween him from his glasses and, instead, set his imagination on other pursuits.
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