Thursday, December 30, 2010

The power of princesses

My 3.5-year-old daughter recently got glasses. She was born with a cataract – a small spot near the pupil on her left eye. So she has been going to a pediatric ophthalmologist since birth. At her last appointment, she was old enough to take a vision test (which involves black and white pictures of familiar objects instead of letters); and some nearsightedness and astigmatism were detected. They also sensed that she’s starting to favor the “good” eye, so patch therapy was prescribed.

I was a bit anxious about the glasses, not knowing how she would take to them. Luckily, I wear glasses, and she’s of an age where she actually wants to be like Mommy (yeah, I know that won’t last) so my first comment to her when we got in the car was “You get to wear glasses like Mommy!” I called my husband and relayed the news to him in an equally upbeat and perky fashion. No pushback from the backseat. Whew! Maybe this will be okay, I thought.

We were a bit delayed in getting the glasses as the children’s eyewear place I planned to take her to is only open weekdays, 8 a.m. –5 p.m. (Hello! Cater to working moms much?!). And I didn’t want to start the patch therapy before we had the glasses, knowing that would probably be a bigger battle.

We had briefly window shopped a couple of places, so when we finally made it to the eyewear store, I knew we would be looking for pink frames. I was okay with that – whatever was needed to get her to wear them. But when I brought a handful of pink, cable temple frames to the kid’s table, my daughter quickly crawled under the chairs. Yes, literally crawled under the chairs. Oh, dear! I thought. This is not good. I can’t drag her out and force frames onto her face… “Okay, guess I’ll pick some brown frames for you, if you’re not going to choose some pink ones.” That got her to the table, anyway.

I ditched my cable temple requirement (the physician, whose young son also wears glasses, had recommended them for active preschoolers) and started grabbing all the pink frames I could find. But frame after frame – all pink – were rejected.

And then – there they were. My daughter must have intuitively known they were there, as she had already found the little purse-like case that accompanied them. Disney princess frames.

There was nothing about the frames that innately said “Disney princess.” No gaudy glass slippers at the temples or big jeweled tiaras topping the frames. Just very discrete detailing and the brand stamped on the inside. But that’s all it took. As soon as I brought two pink pairs over to the table and told her these were “Disney princess” frames, she was sold. Whew! What would I have done without good old fashioned Disney commercialism!?! Mind you, I’m in marketing, so maybe I’m a bit more forgiving of these things, but sure saved me from having to hold an unwilling 3-year-old down and duct tape frames to her face!

Although she’ll occasionally say she doesn’t want to wear her glasses, she’s done remarkably well with them. And she’s also doing great with her patch therapy (which has to be done for a couple of hours each night), even wearing it out in public several times. I love how little kids aren’t embarrassed by things like that! ‘Course, she gets a small sticker each night after her two hours are up. And with each week completed, a really big sticker – a Disney princess, of course!

Amy McCall is a senior marketing manager and happy to sport non-Disney princess frames herself.

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