My wife and I are both nearsighted, so our son, poor kid, was doomed from birth.

It was only a matter of time before his eyeballs dropped from the socket, fell to the floor and rolled under the kitchen sink. Or he needed glasses.

As I write this, he is happily anticipating his first day at school wearing spectacles. Poor kid. Doesn't know what he's in for.

When I was in school, the penalty for enhancing your vision was an immediate and thorough beatdown on the bus, in the classroom and on the playground. Worse were the cruel taunts that sliced through a delicate young psyche like a knife. I still remember them "¦

"Four eyes!" "Pimply poop-head!" "Smelly, smelly short-pants!" "Girly boy, girly boy eats La Choy!"

Um, only a few of the taunts were about glasses. I was not a popular kid.

I got glasses a few grades later than my son is getting them, and at the time I pretended I didn't really have them. I'd quickly slip them on and off only when I REALLY needed to see something on the blackboard. I vainly did that for five years, until I somehow reached college and a scientist invented the contact lens.

We tried to delay the inevitable for Ben, too. Told the teacher to sit him up front in class. We got him books in large type and later, some books in braille. I got a 115-inch television. I bought a seeing-eye gerbil from a guy on the street.

We talked about how coping with his failing eyesight would improve his other senses: hearing, smell, touch, taste, humor, fashion, common. There's a good chance he can develop telekinesis.

I told him, "If you squint just right, you can see almost anything. Squinty eyes are nature's eyeglasses, and they make you look cool, too."

I looked into laser eye surgery. The quack eye doctor said that Ben's too young, and his eyes are still changing. I told him I'm pretty sure my health plan would cover repeat surgery each year, but he said no dice. I messed around with one of those laser pointers, thinking I could maybe do it myself, but my wife kicked me in the groin repeatedly before I could shine the light deeply into Ben's weakened pupils.

What's the whole obsession with vision anyway? What does he need it for? Oh, sure, the pretty girls look a little prettier, but in second grade, he doesn't care so much about that yet. He's not driving a car. He can still recognize shapes and colors -- isn't that enough?

I know that glasses today don't necessarily have to be the large, clunky, plastic, ugly things I remember from childhood. The frames are smaller and lighter, and promise to make any kid look like Harry Potter.

They are not invisible, however (I did look for invisible glasses, to no avail), and they represent change. Kids hate change.

Before this, Ben was a good-looking kid. But now there are these glasses "¦ and add in the inevitable braces, eventual male pattern baldness and a father who dresses him funny, and, well, his social life is already kaput.

Right now, he's excited, and in a perfect world he should be. Now he can read the hands on the clock. When I toss him a ball, he doesn't have to flail vaguely in the general direction of the blur. He can recognize his mom on sight, not because "she's the one who smells pretty." But if this were a perfect world, his vision would already be 20/20.

Maybe the generation that mocks the nearsighted has died off. I don't for a second believe that today's kids are less cruel; just cruel in a different way. Maybe they'll make fun of him because he doesn't have a Wii or an earring or even a cell phone; maybe they'll laugh at him because his pants don't fall down around his knees. Maybe they'll mock him because his dad tends to act like an idiot.

They'll find something wrong, and unfortunately, now, he'll see it coming.

ouellette1918@gmail.com

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