As a parent of a visually impaired child, I of course want my daughter to have all of the tools, aides, technology and hopefully one day medicine available to improve her vision. I want these things because I think they will provide Tess an easier life and, most importantly, make her a happier child. However, I sometimes wonder whether this is, in fact, the case. Will those things truly make her happier? It is a debate I often have in my mind. Am I simply giving parental “guidance” under the theory that I “must know better” than a 7-year-old little girl as to what visual aids and tools she should use – or am I “pushing” these things too strongly onto Tess simply because I, as a 40 year old adult, would want them if I were in her shoes? At the circus I encouraged her (or annoyed her as she might describe!) to use a monocular so that she could see what was happening. I clearly would want to use a magnifying device in that setting if I were visually impaired. Looking back, I think Tess might simply have preferred to listen to her brother and sister describe what was happening, watch the colored light show and listen to the crowd. And as I have come to learn – albeit slowly and sometimes painfully – that is how Tess frequently prefers to enjoy certain things…..and that is all right.
When Tess was born a clergyman said to me, “Don’t ever let your child mourn for something she never knew.” I have come to appreciate how correct he was.