I took the children for their first eye test last week. On reflection, I was more concerned about toddler meltdowns than the end result, and we were all looking forward to piling into a cafe afterwards for two babyccinos and a (self-congratulatory) mummy latte.
I knew something was awry as soon as the optician smacked a pile of stickers on her desk and told the kids to take their time choosing. Emily had volunteered to go before Jess, announcing each letter and animal with her usual confidence. When it was Jess' turn she started getting fidgety straightaway. When asked to repeat her answers she glanced more at me than the wall.
'You're daughter's left eye has slight astigmatism. It's very common. It can cause blurriness. She'll need to wear glasses, at least until the problem corrects itself. Perhaps longer.'
I stared at the optician in shock. Not all the time surely? My mind started whirring. I've never had to wear glasses except for driving. My husband's 20/20. Surely this nice lady with the perfect black eyeliner had made a mistake?
Not so. The optician was 85% sure of her diagnosis but she booked Jess in for more tests to confirm. I fixed a smile on my face, the one us mums crack open when we're treading water on the inside but need to portray a manic level of calm to our offspring. Ten minutes later my husband joined us and asked how it went.
That's when I burst into tears.
I'm still trying to rationalise my reaction now. In society's 'eyes' is Jess not perfect anymore? It's such a ridiculous thing to write that I'm rolling my own as I do it. Jess is super-smart, confident and feisty as hell. Playground bullies wouldn't dare. Besides, this isn't the 1960s. The NHS isn't doling out thick black frames anymore. She'll have a lovely pair of glasses. Unbreakable frames, prescription sunnies and swimming goggles... sign us up for the lot. Nothing's going to hold her back. And glasses are cool nowadays anyway. She'll be bang on trend before she's even four.
Was it something I did? Have I allowed her to watch too much television? Is it all my fault?
When I shared my concerns with my husband he gently intimated that it was most likely genetic. He has a point. My sight may be ok but members of my close family have always had issues.
We parents like to self-flagellate but we're also pretty good at looking on the upside of stuff too. Jess is NOT facing a long, arduous battle with some awful disease. Her astigmatism ISN'T that bad. She's so young that it may even correct itself in the next few years (mini high-five for mummy vigilance). If not then we'll investigate semi-permanent contact lenses. Two of her friends already wear glasses and, best of all, she'll be able to SEE.
That's the whole point, isn't it?