Glasses Half Empty

13 Feb

Letterbalm Broken EyeglassesDear LetterBalm: My 9-year-old son recently had to start wearing thick glasses for a congenital vision problem. It will take several years until he can wear contact lenses. He’s smart and athletic, but he’s small for his age. The other kids are teasing him, calling him names and laughing at him. He’s very upset. He doesn’t want to go to school or play kid basketball. A month after he got the glasses, he ran them along a cement wall, destroying the lenses. We had to buy a new pair. My husband and I have tried to talk with him, but we’re not reaching him. Can you help?

–Geeks Rule

Geeks and nerds (and glasses) are a big deal now. Consider King of the Nerds and The Big Bang Theory. L.B. trusts that you and your husband have taken to the Web to find out about James Worthy, Kurt Rambis and Hakeem Olajuwon – all pro basketball players who wore glasses or goggles on the court. And tennis stars Arthur Ashe and Martina Navratilova and Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson. Then, with your smart son, talk about John Lennon, Tina Fey, Buddy Holly, Johnny Depp, Woody Allen, Run DMC, Harry Potter, Bill Gates or Albert Einstein (who wore glasses for reading, but still). Steve Jobs chose glasses over contacts because they helped him see better. But all these examples don’t address your son’s feelings about himself. Read up on Landon Ard so you can answer all your son’s questions, and try this:

Jason, we love you and we know you’re feeling pretty bad about your glasses. It doesn’t help to say that the reason why you don’t see glasses on professional athletes today is because they’re wearing contacts or special goggles. But there’s one story we want to tell you: Landon Ard is a University of South Carolina kicker who wears glasses playing football!  He butts heads. He has a perfect academic record – all A’s. He’s got really bad eyes and has had to wear glasses since he was 15 months old. He puts up with nerd jokes all the time, including when he makes a mistake on the field, everybody says he can’t see what he’s doing, which isn’t true.

Landon is pretty cool about his glasses. He says, “They’re an easy target for trash-talking. But I love football more than anything, and I can’t give that up just because I wear glasses.”

Jason, you’re very smart and you have a choice. You can let your glasses beat you or you can be the winner. It doesn’t mean that your friends will stop teasing you – and, that will still be hard, sure. But if you are the winner, you decide what you want to be and do. You decide if you want to love school as you always have and to play the sports you like because, well, you can’t give all that up and give up being Jason just because you wear glasses.

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One Response to “Glasses Half Empty”

  1. Jeff 02/13/2013 at 4:45 am #

    My applause on your astute response to ‘glasses’. Thoughtful, researched and intelligent direction.

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