Chance has several friends in the neighborhood, the little boy across the street is his best little pal, but the boy at the end of the cul-de-sac has been coming over almost daily now. Lately, these two boys and Chance have formed a little threesome and have been playing together. This has created an interesting dynamic. Chance's two friends obviously can hear so they have no problem understanding what the other one wants to do or is planning. Chance is doing better each day, but he still has to try to understand what is going on around him and does not catch all of the conversations that just occur among people.
Though Chance takes it all in stride and does not seem to be phased, I have noticed he seems to be frustrated sometimes when his friends do not seem to understand what he is saying. And I have watched as Chance has to run to catch up to his friends because Chance has missed the message that they were planning to go outside now. Chance takes it all in stride, he just runs and catches up. It is hard to watch as his mother though. I understand that Chance will never hear as the other kids do and it is great that Chance just compensates by running to catch up etc. The real heart breaker for me though, is when Chance's friends are just being kids and whisper knowing that Chance can not hear it. Or when his friends dash off after Chance has not agreed to do what they want, knowing that Chance is too far away to hear if they quietly plan to leave. It is all kids being kids of course. My head knows that but my heart does not follow such a rational train of thought. My heart feels a sting of anger as the kids purposely use Chance's deafness to their advantage when they don't get their way etc.
Chance is not perfect of course. I know that he gets frustrated when they don't seem to understand and lashes out by parking his bike in the path of his friends trying to get them to listen to him. It will not be the same for Chance as it is for the other kids. He will not easily get the social cues that the other kids don't have to even think about. And Chance does not seem to be aware that he is being purposely left out through whispering. I can not run up and tell the kids how mean they are or how wrong it is to take advantage of someone’s deafness (though I want to sometimes:) I will stand up for Chance when it is appropriate and beyond what a 6 year old should have to stand up for. But Chance has to learn to deal with other kids and their childish games that they all play. Thankfully, for now, Chance does not realize that his deafness is used against him sometimes. He is just a kid having fun with his friends. And he is used to compensating when he misses a cue to go outside etc.
Honestly, the two little friends are great boys. They are more likely to stand up for Chance and make sure that he hears them than to take advantage of his deafness. And most of the time, they all just play with out a problem. It is just a hard thing being a mother all full of love for your child and having to watch them go through the hard knocks of life. Especially when you know this is the beginning of a path your child will have to learn and that you will not be able to protect their feelings and perceptions forever. Chance's deafness will give him a different experience than most of us have had growing up. No matter how good the technology is, Chance will always be deaf and susceptible to others taking advantage of that when it benefits them. Though, I honestly believe that most people are good and won't try to hurt Chance. There is frankly no excuse for an adult that manipulates the deafness of another for their advantage. But an adult can see that. The playground politics is something that we all must weather. For most of us though, it is on equal grounds. Chance is in the innocent phase still, not understanding fully that his deafness makes him different. He will have to learn to advocate and stand up for himself. For at least some of those learning experiences there might be a mother hiding in the shadows, praying for Chance and resisting the urge to run out and give some kids a good licking!