Glasses, Bullying, and Seeing Things Clearly Pt. I

In January 1961, my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Singer, recognized that I needed glasses from watching me squinting constantly. She sent a note home, but my grandmother didn’t get me tested until school was out. I don’t know why she waited so long, but I finally saw an eye doctor in June. I sat in the exam chair in the dark room, listening as Dr. Booker said, “Her vision is 20/310. I’m not sure how much I can correct it. She should start learning Braille, Mrs. Resler. It may not be long before she goes blind. I’ll give you the phone number of who to call.” “Let’s get her some glasses for now and see what happens,” my grandmother said. Was she concerned that having to learn Braille would be another bad thing for an already fragile kid, or was she overwhelmed by having a needy young child in her life? Though the thought of being blind scares me badly as an adult, I didn’t understand the ramifications back then. However, the doctor’s deadly serious tone frightened me that spring day. We ordered thick coke-bottle lenses with black frames because not many styles were available. They wouldn’t have thin high-impact plastic lenses until many years after I became an adult. When we left the eye doctor’s office with the glasses two weeks later, I drove Mammaw nuts on the wayhome, pointing at and screaming happily over first one thing then another that I could now see, very clearly. Looking back, I think this was the second real emotional reaction to something I’d ever had in my short life. I’ve read that abused children’s emotions sometimes shut down. I believe mine did, but being with my grandmother was bringing them to life.