“No, I won't wear them: I refuse!”
Shouting matches. Doors slamming.
Oh boy, I still remember it as if it happened yesterday.
The source of the drama?
Glasses, of all things.
That's right. My then ten-year-old son did not take kindly to the news that he'd have to start wearing glasses permanently. It wasn't until the first time he threw them across the room that I realized I had my hands full.
When Tough Love Just Doesn't Work
James had a laundry list of excuses as to why he didn't want to wear his glasses.
“They're uncomfortable. I feel like a nerd. I can't focus when they're on my face.”
At first, I tried tough love.
“I'm sorry, but I'm afraid that you simply don't have a choice. Plenty of people wear glasses and get along just fine.”
“Easy for you to say,” he'd pout.
He had a point: my vision is still perfect to this day. My husband wears contacts, although occasionally he sports a stylish pair of sunglasses. I encouraged my husband to start wearing his glasses more often around James, which I think did help in the long-run.
But for the short-term, James was a handful and I suspected he only wore his glasses when he was around his father and me.
How Empathy and Understanding Made a Difference
It took about a week before I realized that James had totally rejected his glasses. I spoke with his teacher to ensure that he was wearing his glasses during the day in the classroom.
No surprise: he wasn't.
It was that evening that we had our big blowout and I realized that this was serious.
Many tantrums later, I learned that James' outbursts were rooted in a legitimate fear. Between sobs, he revealed that he was afraid that he wouldn't be able to play soccer anymore because of his glasses.
I didn't know how to respond. Soccer was James' passion: he had been the top scorer in his rec league for the past two years.
Losing his love of the game for the sake of his glasses wasn't something I wanted to see happen.
Sure, there were sports-specific glasses and goggles out there, but would they impact his ability to play? I didn't know what to do.
I did everything I could to assure James that he'd still be able to play the game he loved. My husband reinforced his belief by showing James some examples of star athletes who wore glasses.
We would continuously point out other examples of celebrities and famous names who sported glasses to help James understand that being known as “four eyes” was more common than he thought.
Once he realized that even Superman's alter ego Clark Kent wore glasses, he became much, much more agreeable.
Who Knew Glasses Would Result in Such Growing Pains?
Eventually, James was able to step onto the soccer field and play just as he had before.
Since his age group wasn't allowed to perform headers, there wasn't much danger of potentially losing his glasses during play. In the end, James realized that his fears were all in his head.
Fast forward two years later. James still wears his glasses and hasn't given us a problem about it ever since. He's set on getting contacts later this year, which I see as a reward for his sense of patience and maturity following his initial tantrums. Needless to say,
I never thought glasses would represent such a turning point in his youth but it's often the little things in life that change us the most.