I cried today.
As she sat in the chair, chin lifted and eyes glued to the machine, I looked at her in awe. I could tell by her clinched fist that she was nervous.
“Nine, three, it looks like a five” she said.
I casually gazed up at the screen across from us, trying to hide the fact that she was wrong. My heart fell to the floor. “Sweetie, if you don’t feel comfortable saying the numbers in Greek, you can say them in English”, I said.
I looked over at the doctor and gave a very confident, slight eye squint and nod, reassuring her, and myself that it was clearly a language issue.
“Nine, three, five…”
Just like that, I realized that she really did have a problem. My perfect child, had a problem. I blame myself, because I have an astigmatism as well, so naturally, it’s my genes. I know I shouldn’t be making a bigger deal of this then it is, but when your child has anything. Even a cold. You worry.
Last year we were in this same chair; we bought the glasses. She didn’t wear the glasses though. I assumed it was because she didn’t feel she needed them, but I guess I was wrong.
“Miss Emma, I want these to be your magic glasses for three years. When you are nine, you never have to look at them again, if you don’t want”, the doctor told her. She was bummed I could tell, but she was still smiling.
Emma and I walked out like two high school kids that know they scored low on the SAT.
I gave her a pep talk and we walked…
And we talked…
She told me that when she wore them to school one day that her best friend laughed at her. I assured her it was a cute laugh because her friend wasn’t used to her wearing them. She asked me if she could not wear them to her party. If she could not wear them when she wanted to feel like a princess. I said of course she didn’t have to wear them on special occasions.
We went to her brother’s soccer practice and when he got off the field and he saw her wearing them, he said “wow Emma you are beautiful”
We arrived home and the neighborhood kid saw Emma get out of the car and he shouted to the boys across the street, “look at Emma, she’s wearing glasses, she can’t see anything” and he laughed. Emma looked at me and strongly walked inside, as she entered her left foot in the door she looked back at me like she knew I felt like a cloud about to pour. I told her not to listen to that bad child, that he could only be so lucky to have parents like us to take him to the doctors and make sure he is healthy all around, I told her that he is a product of bad parenting…that he is a nightmare. I know it was wrong, but-
I was so hurt.
I was so angry.
I was so disappointed.
My husband put me in my place quickly, telling me that the boy is only a child. As I held back my tears for the ability to shout, I told him to stop defending the world and to take my side for once.
He’s not a JUST a boy.
I remember having a child with progeria disease in my first grade class. I remember my mother inviting her to my birthday party and I remember sitting next to her at the lunch room table almost everyday, because she was all alone.
I was just a girl. A girl that was brought up in a home of love. A girl that had parents who instilled in her empathy. That showed her by example what generosity meant.
So, for me the “he’s just a child” bull shit doesn’t cut it.
How can I raise my kids to
“love thy neighbor” but you cannot?
How can I raise my kids to not disrespect their elders, but you cannot?
How can I raise my children to be modest and kind and treat everyone as equals, but you cannot?
When we have children, it is our obligation to raise them as such. Not to let them drift along in life breaking hearts, and rules along the way. Sit down and talk to them. You will be surprised how much they will learn.
A week ago we were at a restaurant, and the waiter had one fake eye. My three and a half year old son looked at me, he didn’t say anything. I grabbed him and I took him to the bathroom. I explained to him that our waiter looked different. Markos asked why, and I told him that he may have been born that way or that maybe he was in an accident, but that whatever the case was, he was the same on the inside.I explained that because he looks different, that he is probably used to people looking at him differently, and that it probably hurts him from time to time. I challenged Markos to walk out of the bathroom and help me make that waiter feel, for once in his life, that he looked the same as everyone else.
That’s all it took.
Four days ago we were at the airport and we saw a man with a prosthetic leg. My children didn’t stare. My children waited until we were in the car to mention it. They didn’t make fun of him, they said they were proud of him for going about his life without feeling different.
Today at the eye doctor, as we were waiting, a little girl walked in, she had an obvious vision impairment… Emma didn’t mention it at all.
That is my idea of a proud moment.
You may think I’m bragging. That is because I am.
My children aren’t JUST children. They are products of good parenting. They are the next leaders that will bring warmth to this cold world.
Again, my question is,
How can I raise my kids with empathy and you cannot?
And one more question…
Why should I raise my children to see everyone as equal, when it is very apparent that we are not?