I started to type a quick comment in response to blogging friends who commented on my previous post on my nearsighted childhood. But my response kept expanding. So here is a follow up post.
The episodes of terror or embarrassment that I chronicled about my childhood were not typical memories for me. In my own home, neighborhood and school, I am sure I never exhibited fear that would alert my parents to my vision deficiencies.
There was no squinting, the clue that alerted an observant teacher to the vision problem’s of Daniel, the son of blogger friend Sandra. No low grades, either. I rode my bike; I walked to school by myself. I had cousins and aunts and uncles galore and all their homes and grounds were familiar and non-threatening to me.
I didn't like sports. I rarely intentionally interacted with balls. The only way I stopped balls, whatever the size or shape, was when they hit me. But some of my friends didn’t like sports either, and their eye tests showed they had great vision.
Early on I developed a love of words. Sitting at the table or as a little kid even under the table, I listened raptly to the after-dinner adult conversation. My cousins and I would hear the family stories told and retold to laughter and sometimes tears.
Those stories and my parents’ reading to me ensured that I loved to read. Now when I read I take off my glasses and hold the words close. Because my nearsightedness gradually became worse over the years, especially in those early years of wearing glasses, my reading during those years before glasses may not have offered a clue about my inability to see well.
Even if it had, my parents probably had little chance to notice. I developed sneaky skills for finding spots where no one would intrude on the worlds where my reading transported me. It was in my reading that I became the courageous, self-confident, physically adept protagonist, the savvy world-traveler or the central character in fairy tales and fantasies.
When I started telling my mother about those memories that, as an adult, I could recognize as the result of my nearsightedness, she said she had been shocked and dismayed to learn the results of that first eye test. She added that she had always felt guilty that she hadn't recognized my problem earlier.
But I was a happy, active child. Yes, I was shy and lacked self-confidence. And even though the negative thought patterns that I had developed remained after I got glasses, and much later, contact lenses, the influence of those patterns began to diminish.
For that I have to credit being surrounded by love: parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, wonderful public school teachers, and adult leaders of children’s and youth classes, organizations and activities in church and community.
There were also childhood friends and their parents. As unaware as I had been of my need for corrective lenses, I had always been aware of that love and was thankful for it.
Those positives continued in marriage, parenthood, interesting work and growing spiritual maturity.
After the comments on the previous post, I am now also more aware that I need to insert disclaimers so that dear readers will garner an accurate picture. My tidbit in pursuit of accuracy: With all that love surrounding me, I could still be a selfish, insensitive little twerp more often than I want to admit or remember.
That fact makes me appreciate those patient, caring adults and peers even more--and more recently my husband, children, daughters-in-law, other relatives and friends. And yes, regrettably I can still be a twerp, only now a big one.