You may have picked up from my last post that I have been struggling a bit now that H's hearing aids have gone from 'someday in the future' to a reality. Partly it was just the unknown of it all. All our routines were going to need to adjusted to make way for this new life of a toddler with hearing aids. How was he going to react to them? How much of a hastle would they be? We had reached a comfortable holding place and finally having hearing aids was going to change that.
But there was something else there too. With hearing aids on, I could no longer pretend to strangers on the street. Everyone would be able to see that he wasn't like 'typical' kids. It surprised me that this was my reaction, since I didn't think I really cared. After all, I'm the mom who opted for zebra striped hearing aids rather than beige or blond. I'm the mom who always said it's better for people see the hearing aids so that no one thinks H is just ignoring them (even if he maybe is ignoring them). So where did all this come from?
Coincidentally, or not coincidentally depending on your beliefs, I have been reading Kelle Hampton's book Bloom, about the first year with her daughter with Down Syndrom. I read Kelle's blog, her daughter is now almost 3 and their family is much more about living life rather than grief or disability. But to go back to those first few weeks after her daughter's birth has been really moving. I know hearing loss does not equal Down Syndrom, not at all. But as I was reading about her reluctance to take her new daughter out into the world, it hit me what was bothering me so much.
I'm not afraid that people will see H's hearing aids, I’m afraid they will only see his hearing aids. H loves to make new friends, and is forever charming strangers into playing games of peek-a-boo, waving and shaking hands, and making them laugh. Will people stop smiling at him now? Or will their smiles be full of pity? Will they stop trying to talk to him? Will they freeze when they realize the boy they thought was normal has tubes sticking into his ears?
I’m not worried about other kids (not yet at least). They might run up, point at his ears and ask 'what's that?'. No, it's the parents who might rush up, tell their kid it's rude to point, and then quickly move them away from the little boy who is different. Are these people going to teach my son that he's different, and being different is bad?
Of course none of this has happened yet, and I'm continually surprised by the kindness of strangers so maybe I will be surprised again. And goodness knows I've stared at every kid with hearing aids for the past few months and it's only because I've been trying to figure out a non-creepy way of saying 'Hi, how do you like those things? My little boy is getting them soon'.
But if you should see a slightly frazzled looking mom out and about with a blond boy with zebra hearing aids, could you do me a favour? He can hear you just fine, he would love to be your friend. Please come say hi and while you're here, care for a game of peek-a-boo?
I live in beautiful, rainy Vancouver, and these days I'm kicking around the city with my new son and my smarty pants husband. In a previous (and future) life I am a meteorologist. I express my non-artistic self through crafts (knitting, weaving, sewing just a bit), and sometimes if the mood is right I love to cook and bake. I write about what's going on in my life and these days that's motherhood.