My Parenting Perspectives column for Dec. 1 …
It was the best news the ophthalmologist could have given us.
My husband and I knew our daughter’s crossed eyes weren’t perfectly straight six weeks after surgery. But little Eve wouldn’t need another operation, the doctor said. She just needed eyeglasses.
I was thrilled. Until I realized she was going to have to wear glasses.
And I was going to have to be the person to make sure she’d wear them.
My mother repeatedly wondered aloud how a toddler like Eve would ever keep glasses on. The first ophthalmologist we visited told us he wouldn’t put a child under age 2 into glasses for that reason.
But I knew this was the best option for her and the health of her eyes.
I was encouraged when we picked out the wire-rimmed frames that she didn’t immediately pull off. She giggled when she saw herself in the mirror.
After an adjustment to the nose pads, she’ll usually keep the specs on for several hours at a time. “Eve glasses,” she’ll say when she passes a reflective surface. They make her look so grown-up, like a mini-teenager, her day care provider said.
The problem is trying to put them on her once they’re off. She deflects my attempts with as much skill as Curly blocking Larry’s eye pokes in “The Three Stooges.”
This daily battle has forced me to fine-tune my parenting strategies, something I’m sure all moms and dads have to do as their toddlers become ever so independent.
I praise her for wearing them, clapping and cheering when she lets me put them on her without a fight. I tell her how important it is to wear her glasses. We talk about how Mommy and Daddy have glasses. And Uncle Carl and her friend Hayden and Papa and Grandma and anyone else I can think of. And I will give her a minute-long timeout when she continues to defy me.
But the best tactic has seemed to be simply explaining a new set of rules. She has to wear her glasses when we read a book. She has to put her glasses on before we watch a video. And, of course, glasses are required attire for drinking apple juice.
It’s worked well, though I do worry I’m tip-toeing awfully close to bribery, a parental no-no.
I’m not giving her apple juice for putting her glasses on. I’m saying she can’t have any until she wears them. But does she understand the difference? I’m not sure.
For now, I just have to hope she’s not learning to expect a reward for doing something that’s expected of her.
And I have to keep doing what’s expected of me: to be a loving mom, consistent in discipline and positive reinforcement, even if I don’t always know the best way to do that.
Eve’s glasses have brought another challenge into our home, as well. I never imagined how smudged or filthy they could get.
I asked the woman who adjusted the nose piece if she had any suggestions for keeping them clean.
She gave me four bottles of lens cleaner and wished me luck.
I guess the answers to parental dilemmas are never crystal clear.
Sherri Richards is mother of a 20-month-old daughter and employee of The Forum. She’s also “Top Mom” at http://moms.inforum.com