Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dressing In The Dark

Okay so obviously I can dress my children. Most of the time they are even matching. Nevertheless, this is a challenge that a lot of blind people go through every day. I have a few helpful tips to allow this to not become to big of a problem.

Whenever my girls try and dress themselves and try and leave the house wearing something that isn’t necessarily attractive I would fear the eyes would be on me again. For a long time in the beginning I was always afraid of that. I didn’t want people to think that just because I was blind, my children as well as I would look like we got dressed in the dark (no pun intended). When I would tell someone about my fear I would always say, “Everyone’s going to look at the girls! They are going to say poor little blind girl can’t dress her kids…” I figured that all parents thanks to my disability I had to work twice as hard to make sure they look good to fight against the stigma.

Before you say it, yes I know it’s irrational. Of course kids are not going to match all the time once they get to be the age where they want to dress themselves. I know that and you know that and pretty much everyone else knows that too. But, when they see the mismatched child with the tights on her head and me with my cane what do you think they think? In my defense I really don’t care about that anymore. I’m over it. If people are going to stare anyway I might as well give them something to stare at right?

My oldest daughter is ten and she helps out a lot with this dilemma. She tells me what colors things are and what kind of pattern they have on them. When my youngest who is three attempts some outlandish combination she clues me in before it’s too late. They drive me crazy but they really are the best kids in the whole world. Together we are a team… even if uncoordinated sometimes.

There is assistive technology to aid with colors. The main problem with this equipment is their price. They tend to be somewhat expensive so choose wisely. Also, remember cheaper isn’t always better in some cases. If you buy one and it isn’t right for you it may be a while before you can afford an upgrade. Always double check return policies for exchange and money back guarantees. I personally have one of these devices and it’s great in theory. The only trouble is that it doesn’t tell you if there are patterns on the clothing and it’s not always accurate. If you decide to go that route be sure you do your research. Check around and get the best quality product for your money.

Another solution for this is to ask for help! Of course not all of us have ready and able help at our every hearts desire or request. For those of you who do though, don’t be afraid to ask. I have my mom to help with matching issues. When it comes time to put clothes on the hanger she puts them on for me as matching sets. This saves me a lot of time and headaches in the choosing clothes department. She also helps me to treat the girl’s shirts for stains. Especially with my three year old this is a must. She tends to think it’s best to bathe in the food rather than simply put it into her mouth. I am very lucky to have a mom that is so willing to help with this no questions asked.

For clothes that are not meant to be mated pairs I just have to pay careful attention to what I’m choosing. I learn what things are by feel. After a while things are recognizable to my hands even if not to my eyes. I make sure her pants, pajamas and underclothes are all in their own separate drawers. If a particular pair of pants has embroidery or some other pattern that make they harder to match then they get hung up. This forces me to remember that these have to be matched more carefully then a plain Jane pair of jeans. In some cases I even put them in a certain area of the closet to help me remember what’s what.

This in turn brings me to my next personal preference. I try to mainly purchase pants that will go with any shirt combination. For instance, a regular pair of blue jeans will go with almost everything.

In addition to selective pants purchasing, I attempt to do the same with socks. It can be difficult for a blind person to mate a pair of socks once they are stretched or shrunk with continual wash and wear. And don’t get me started on colors! What I do is at least try and buy each member of the household their own individual style of socks. For example, for myself I might buy ankle socks. But since me and my oldest daughter wear close to the same size I could buy her mid length. My youngest daughter prefers ankle socks as well but that works because she of course has much smaller feet than me. The other thing I try and remember is that white socks are the best option. Once different colors get thrown in the mix it gets harder to fold them properly. This would then mean that someone in the house is going to end up with a striped green sock paired with a solid hot pink one. While this may not matter if you are wearing pants to hide them it wouldn’t work if you were wearing shorts.

It’s important for blind people to wake up and swallow that huge lump of pride that some of us have in our throats. Learn to laugh when you find out your child doesn’t look their best. It’s really no big deal. Even sighted people take their kids and themselves out in public wearing God offal combinations that others wouldn’t be caught dead in. The only difference between us and them is that they chose to look like that on purpose. We at least have an excuse. If you have the “blind card” at your disposal you might as well use it in this circumstance.

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