Saturday, February 13, 2016

New Eyes

When I was about 7 years old, Mom was taking a bath and I said, "Hey, Mom. You know what's funny? I see two of you." And suddenly my mom knew.

My sisters and I learned to play the piano at a very young age. Our teacher? Mom. And so, when I was about 6 years old, Mom decided it was my turn and so, day after day we sat at the piano bench while she tried to teach me the different notes on paper and how to translate those to the keys on the piano. Middle C has a distinct line through it, and when one is learning to play, it is a large, boldly written note that just can't be missed. Day after day I forgot all Mom taught me the previous day...except for Middle C. Mom would say, "What is this note?" And point to a D. I would shake my head, baffled. And then she'd point to Middle C. I got it right every time, so proud.

Mom was not.

She was beginning to wonder if I was significantly lacking in the intelligence department...until I saw two of her in the bathtub that morning.

A first grader at the time, I loved school. I had friends, I felt accepted. But after a trip to Oklahoma City, I came home with pop bottle glasses that made my eyes the size of round silver dollars and on that day, everything changed.

I suddenly found myself the object of cruelty, of name calling, of isolation. And I was only 7. By the time I hit second grade, I no longer loved school and insecurity encapsulated me--frozen within a label that I couldn't escape.

In the spring of my 8th grade year I went to see the eye doctor--the same one I'd been seeing for seven years now--and he had gradually corrected my eyes until I had 20/20 vision, which I still have to this day. It was one of the best days of my life when he said, "You're free."

No more glasses; no more Four Eyes. That label was decimated in that moment.

Maybe this early experience in my life is the reason I hate labels. They box us up in little packages and throw a tightly wound bow on top that simply won't come undone. Labels strangle and destroy.

Jace has had the opportunity to start over at Enka Middle this year and it has been refreshing watching this boy come alive. I talked to one of his teachers the other day and she said to me, "Jace is in a boisterous class. I had to come down hard on them today because of their behavior. I am so sorry Jace had to hear that."

Excuse me?

Did I hear correctly?

"What do you mean?" I asked her, puzzled, because in my head, Jace was probably right there in the mix of it all. I envisioned kids jumping on desks and screaming like banshees and Jace ring leading the entire affair.

"Oh, Jace is one of my good kids. I can always depend on him to do what he's supposed to do."

Good thing I was sitting down. In that moment? My heart burst ten sizes larger than it was before.

Labels are painful and debilitating. Once you know you've been labeled, there's no escape. It's a long, vicious journey out from under it. When one recognizes they have been labeled, it's like putting on a brand new pair of glasses: it all comes into focus. Suddenly you know who your friends are.

And suddenly you know who your friends aren't.


  1. So glad Jace has had this opportunity and is thriving! Kudos to you for being an awesome mom and making this hard decision! Life changing!

  2. I'm so happy for both of you, but I can't lie either, it did make me want to scratch the eyes out of anyone who had teased you.


Diamonds Everywhere

I read a study recently that said that greatest single indicator of a long life well-lived is deep social connections. Of course, there are...