Confessions of a Four Eyes
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
"Daddy, how old were you when you got your glasses?" my oldest daughter asked.
"How old are you now?"
My daughter stared at me, amazed that we had vision correction technology all the way back in the early '70s.
"So you've worn glasses for 33 years?"
My daughter had just gotten her first pair of glasses that day, and was still getting used to them. More importantly, she was still trying to wrap her brain around the idea that she'll have to wear them until she's old. Thirty-three years is forever to a child.
"They still feel funny," she said.
"After a while you'll forget they're even there."
"Everything looks weird too."
"Don't look at them, look through them."
Judging by her expression, I had either said something profoundly stupid, or her glasses were sliding down her nose. She was getting the hang of them already.
"Think of your glasses like a window. You don't look at the glass, you look through the glass to see outside. So don't look at your lenses, look past them."
She nodded. I had just gotten my own glasses repaired the previous week, after my four-year-old son gave me a "Glasgow kiss" -- what the Scottish call a head butt -- and broke my glasses. He thought I had made some disparaging remark about Robert the Bruce, and let me have it.
"Oh, and remember to keep them safe. Put them in their case when you're not wearing them and don't play rough when you have them on," I warned. "And don't say anything to your brother about the Battle of Culloden."
She made that face again. "I'll be careful."
I continued, "There's one more thing thing you have to watch out for. Don't let it bother you when kids call you Four Eyes."
"Why would they do that?"
Uh oh, I thought. Too late to put those worms back in the can.
"Well, uhh, that is, uhh. . ."
"Kids aren't that mean nowadays," my wife said.
"Yeah, whatever," I said, rolling my eyes. "Kids are jerks."
"But I don't have four eyes," my daughter said in that trusting, innocent tone that I was about to ruin for the rest of her childhood.
"It doesn't matter. When I got my first set of glasses, some kids in my class teased me and called me Four Eyes. They thought it was funny to call any kid with glasses Four Eyes."
"And Poindexter. Don't forget Poindexter," said my wife.
"They never called me Poindexter."
"No! Would you just stop it? You're not helping."
"Fine, don't get your bowels in an uproar. . . Poindexter."
"So what happened to those kids?"
"My teacher told them to stop."
"And did they?"
I forgot for a moment that my daughter was home schooled, and thus realized what little moral authority teachers actually have when it comes to playground behavior.
"Well, no. She was about as useless as a foam hammer."
"What did you do?"
"I finally got used to it after the first four years. I got in a few fights, which was hard, because I had to take my glasses off to fight. So I couldn't actually see who I was supposed to be fighting until I got within arm's reach. That caused its own problems."
"So should I fight the kids who call me Four Eyes?"
"Well. . ."
"NO!" my wife interrupted.
"It finally got better when the worst one of the bunch, David Shane, got his own set of glasses. He got really mad when I kept calling him Four Eyes, but he finally quit. He fought meaner than anyone, so they all quit calling people Four Eyes after that."
"So should I make fun of kids who make fun of me?"
"Only if they're fat or dress funny."
"No, you should not!" my wife said. "Just ignore them."
I scoffed so hard I nearly choked. "Doesn't work. I tried ignoring those kids like my own mother told me, but it's hard to ignore some little punk who keeps poking you in the back of the head going 'hey Four Eyes, hey Four Eyes.'"
"So what do I do?"
I tried to recall a little pearls of wisdom from my own childhood -- They're just teasing you because they're jealous. They pick on you because they like you. If they make fun of you, they're not your real friends -- and discarded them just as quickly.
Then I remembered the one benefit that glasses like mine afforded me. I leaned over and whispered so only my daughter could hear me.
"Keep your glasses on and challenge them to an eye-poking contest."