Thursday, 11 July 2013

What we pass on to our kids: Guilt 101

Not our glasses.  Yet.  

School holidays give you time to catch up on the more admin side of child rearing.  

Because it's not enough to feed, clothe, shelter and love them, you must also maintain children regularly, rather like a car.  

This means frequent visits to optometrists, dentists, physiotherapists etc etc.  Along with associated exorbitant costs and related miserly private health fund rebates.  

Today we went to the hairdresser and the optometrist.  The optometrist was for Sarah.  She should have gone in January.  Cue guilt.  

Now I have a bit of a history with optometrists.  Because I have (had) shit eyesight.  I first started wearing glasses when I was 10 (Sarah's age now) and by the time my eyes had finished growing (or shrinking) I was -6.50 in one eye and -6.75 in the other.  

To give you an idea of how crap my eyesight was, imagine waking up in the middle of the night and having to put on your glasses to see the time on the clock radio on your BEDSIDE TABLE.  

Yep.  Really blind.  

I had the laser operation when I was 27, and I've never looked back (pun fully intended).  I've had fabulous eyesight for nearly 15 years.  But I still remember years of coke bottle thick glasses, frames of extreme dagginess, problems with contact lenses and not being able to move unless I had glasses on.  

It totally sucked.  

Now my beautiful girl needs glasses.  She first had to wear them a year ago for reading but now she's veering back towards myopia (short sighted), just like her parents.  The optometrist (Emily) we saw today said she will most likely need glasses for long distances but was looking more likely to end up with a lower prescription like her Dad (-2.25) than me.  


I'm sure Emily knows what she's talking about.  Even though she only looks about 21.  I'm sure she's qualified and all.  

And the frames Sarah has chosen are totally ultra funky.  She looks gorgeous in them.  

I asked Emily the youthful specialist about kids wearing contact lenses.  She said because most kids weren't terribly good at taking care of contact lenses usually 16 was the earliest they prescribed them, except for sport.  Having had conjunctivitis when I was 14 due to keeping contacts in for weeks at a time, I could sympathise. 

Outside I was calm, asking practical questions, nodding and smiling.  Inside I was screaming. What have I done?  Passed on my faulty genetic structure to these most beloved of people who I wouldn't hurt for the world.  WHAT have I DONE???

I know there's nothing I can do about this.  Sarah (and potentially Josh and Issy) are genetically predisposed to have poor eyesight.  And maybe I just need to give them the self confidence to deal with it.  Something I didn't have a great deal of during my formative years.  

And if dodgy eyes aren't enough, there's teeth too.  Sarah already has an overbite and next month we will drop a bomb at the orthodontist to begin her treatment for this.  I had horrendous buck teeth as a kid.  (Yes I was the coke bottle glasses wearing, buck teethed nerdy nightmare).  

I wish I could show you a photo.  Actually I'm completely glad I don't have a photo.  Yes, very glad. 

Wonky teeth.  Shit eyesight.  The whole shebang.  
Sarah will not suffer as I did.  I will not allow it.  

From 13-15 I wore braces.  They worked (slowly but surely).  Contact lenses also worked after I worked out you need to take them out and clean them every 24 hours.  But the damage was done.  My self confidence was crap.  

I DO NOT want any of my kids to feel the way I felt.  And early intervention is part of my plan, along with a healthy dose of confidence which I will give them anyway I can.  

I can't protect them from the world.  But  I can give them weapons to use when the going gets tough.  I just feel awful because it's my fault they (just Sarah so far but I know Issy will be bucky thanks to incorrigible thumb/finger sucking) have to go through this.  

I know there are lucky people who swan through their early adolescence and teenage years with clear skin, perfect teeth and 20/20 vision.  I hate them all.  I remember admiring them from a distance at high school.  If genetics count for anything, I doubt the Christensens have such a smooth road ahead.  

But dammit, I'm there for 'em.  Whether they want me there or not.  

First image courtesy of Maggie Smith /

Second image courtesy of Grant Cochrane /