“I don’t want to go to school today,” said my eight-year-old as I nudged him into consciousness.
“These,” he said pointing to the prescription glasses we’d picked up the afternoon before.
“There are other kids with glasses in your class.”
“Well, you’re going to have to wear them at school someday. Might as well be today.”
I sat on his bed stroking his hair. I thought about the email I could dash off to his teachers, the texts I could send to his friends’ parents. Then I returned to staring at the sweet little boy in front of me who was clearly thinking his own thoughts.
“Okay,” he accepted my logic, heading off to his bathroom to start the day as I got up to go wake up the Teen-a-sorus next door.
He wore his glasses at breakfast, the family complimenting his frames and querying him about the lens’ effect on the world.
“Yeah, my eggs do look clearer.”
So far so good. I dropped the kids off after an uneventful car ride. I exited the school parking lot and pulled over. To email, text, call, shout a protective warning. To protect. “He’s only eight.” “He’s still so young.” “The world, even our privileged part of it, is tough.” Me, myself and I debated. I put the phone down on the seat and pulled out onto the road. Torn but confident in my decision to let events unfold as fate would have them.
“Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child,” I reassured myself as I went about my day. “They need to be independent, fierce and forceful so that they can make the most of their blessings. Think of all the poor tykes who need glasses but can’t afford them. Think of the good school he attends, the lovely families. Think good thoughts.”
“How’d it go?”
Tears spilled, “Excuse my language but those second graders are bitches,” he mumbled.
“I’m sorry. What did they say?”
Sniffles. Tears. A hug. “I’m sorry, honey. But did the glasses make your day in the classroom better?”
“Good. Now, what’s the homework sitch?”
“Okay, you can have half an hour.”
“Thanks,” my bespectacled wee-one mumbled as he walked toward his Legos.
I wanted to strike out at small children, those seven-year-old bitches. I admit I thought about how to get their names. “Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child.” And prepare the mother for the tears, the sorrows, the imperfections, the child who is not the Olympian athlete cum supermodel physicist who everyone adores and to whom never a harsh word is uttered. And then… prepare the bitchiest parts of your maternal instinct. And shut those bitches up.
A small child made fun of another small child. That’s childhood. That’s life.
“Good morning, sweetheart.”
“I don’t want to wear my glasses to school today.”
“You can’t let other people get in the way of your doing what’s best for you.”
He thought his thoughts. Then shrugged his shoulders and headed for his bathroom. [I am compelled to note here then when I hear him urinate in the morning my mind is boggled by his bladder-to-body ratio.]
In the school parking lot, I gave my little man an extra hug before sending him on his way. He and his sister went off into their cloistered world where people genuinely care for their well-being. They are blessed. They are loved.
“How was your day?”
“Okay,” he answered without tears.
“Any comments about the glasses?”
“Yeah. But I ignored them.”