For thirty years now, I have been wearing glasses. Since my freshman year of high school, I have been wearing a combination of glasses and contacts. Though, there was once a time when I couldn’t see the birds overhead. I had seen them perched on a tree or darting through the grass, but I had no concept of them soaring high above my head. Once they were above the tree line, I was unsure of the mystical place they called home.
That kid with brown curly hair didn’t know it at the time, but he needed glasses. He would later learn that he is farsighted with astigmatism, but those terms didn’t make sense to a five-year-old. He needed to see the blackboard and do his homework without a headache. His dad was a welder and often worked on projects (sheds mostly) at home. This nearly blind child also needed to quit running into his dad’s newly welded beams or he was going to suffer from serious brain damage.
The kindergarten year marched forward like soldiers incapable of sitting still for too long. Then, without notice, a frightening exam was scheduled. The local optometrist was invited to the school to check the eyesight of all those in my grade. One by one, we were invited into a cleared-out classroom. Before me was a jumble of letters. Row by row, I recited the letters I could read. I placed a black piece of plastic over my left eye and then the right. When I was done, I was told I did a great job and to return to my classroom.
The next day, I was called out of my class. I was told, “you did so well on the exam that we want to have you take it again.” Excited and filled with pride, I read aloud each letter. As the end of chart neared, I soared and thought, “this is how it is done.” Except, I wasn’t there because of my abilities. I was sitting there because of my inabilities. I was lied to by those I trusted.
Later that afternoon, I was sent home with a note to give to my mom and dad. It stated that I needed glasses and they should schedule an eye exam as soon as possible. Soon, plastic, 80’s style frames would adorn my face and the era of sight would begin. Unknown to me, a new era would be born because kids spot differences like sharks smell blood in the water. My glasses would be the feast they were looking for in the ocean that is a schoolyard playground.
Be good to each other,
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