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My oldest daughter wears glasses…sort of.

She has a prescription. And a set of lenses matching that prescription. And a nifty little case to put them in.

It’s a fight, however, to get the glasses out of their felt-coated den to perch stylishly upon her pretty little nose. They spend a lot of their time left at school, buried in her backpack, or “lost” in some obscure location that reeks of premeditation.

Because she has only mild astigmatism, she doesn’t need to wear them all the time. But not wearing them all the time and not wearing them ever are two different cookies.

I try to enlist the help of her optometrist to reiterate the importance of her glasses. If she wears them while she’s young and the condition is mild, her eyesight can be corrected. But if she doesn’t, she runs the risk of worsening her condition and needing eyeglasses on a more consistent, permanent basis.

He knows this. He’s the one who told it to me. Yet, year after year, he caves to the pleading look of nine-year-old doe eyes and the sound of a soft, shy voice, and mumbles something to the effect of, “Oh, I’m sure she’ll be fine.”

Avoiding the look I’m giving him, he laughs and talks with her about school like we’re on a social visit, only to side-speak with me later about different ways to get her to wear them at least when she’s reading or doing schoolwork.

So the need is there. But he chooses to stay cool doctor and leave the villainy to mom.

So villain I become…and private eye for lost lenses, and insurance rep for broken frames. Some days I explain it all over again, other times it’s “the look” and a simple, “Glasses. Now.” That gets results, though it doesn’t make me popular.

I’m sure my ratings would rise if I gave in and let her go glasses-free. Today anyway. In the future, if she did indeed graduate to a more permanent need for optical assistance, she’d regret that I didn’t stand my ground, maybe even resent me for it.

Because at the end of the day, it’s my job as a parent to do what’s best for her, and that’s not always what makes her happy or lets her feel good.

I imagine her older, walking out of a shopping mall (with a dagger in her pocket and a can of pepper spray in her purse like Mama taught her). She’ll take in the scenery around her with pristine clarity–without glasses. Not because she’s not wearing them, but because she no longer needs them. She won’t just see clearly then, she’ll understand too.

And she’ll thank me for it.