Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chance and Monopoly

Chance has learned how to play the game of Monopoly over Christmas. It has been fun to see him learn to be a tycoon of sorts. The first time he played, he was far ahead of everyone else as far as assets go that the other kids got a little depressed. Chance caught on real quick and soon had shrewdly amassed a fortune. Chance's dad and I took turns playing the game with Chance, his brother and neighborhood kids so that they could get the hang of it.

It was nice to watch Chance's compassionate side too. Because he was so far ahead of everyone else, he started loaning money to friends and trying to help others acquire more money too.

Today while playing, Chance is learning that as in life, sometimes you are doing well, and sometimes the cash flow is significantly lower than you would like. It has been touching to see Chance and his friends interact while they play though. Like yesterday, when Chance was doing well, and wanted to help his friends do better, today his friends are helping Chance. I overhead Chance say, "I do not have enough money to buy houses. I am poor."

Then both of Chance's friends told him that they were sorry and told him that if he landed on any of their properties, it was free.

I just love watching Chance playing games with other kids in the neighborhood, being able to hear and understand what is going on and participate like any of the kids do. I noticed that the banker seemed to be extra generous at times during the game with Chance and his friends. At the time, I thought the kids were just making up their own rules. Later I learned that the kids had misplaced the rule book for a time and so they were making up amounts of money to be payed out as they went along.

We got several new games for Christmas and after learning how to play the games himself, Chance calls in friends to show them how to play too. They have been having a great time.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Karaoke Machine

Chance got just what he asked Santa for this year. A karaoke machine! He has been singing his little heart out. There are Christmas songs, Disney songs and movie songs that Chance entertains us with now.

Chance has always loved music and this little machine is giving him just the outlet to let his heart sing that he needed.

Music through an implant is different for different people. It is not heard the way a normal ear hears music. Neither is sound. But how well music is processed and heard seems to vary from implant user to implant user.

Chance has a harder time getting a tune down, but that is expected. Due to this fact, it is interesting to hear him singing a song he is not familiar with. He needs more time to hear the melody and catch the tune so to speak. Though Chance's dad commented that we have had several hearing kids from the neighborhood in singing and they don't sound any better than Chance does. They just catch the tune and lyrics faster:)

Chance had a friend over to play who is also deaf and they were both singing at the same time to one of the songs.

Chance's brother had a friend over also and as he went up the stairs, I heard him say,"What are they singing?!"

Chance's brother immediately responded with,"Dude! They both have implants! It takes longer for them to learn the song!"

I thought, "Way to stick up for your brother!"

Chance is actually doing really well with the music. The lyrics scroll down the T.V. screen and so Chance can read what the words are. I have heard him getting closer to the tune of some songs in the last few days.

We are curious to see how well Chance seems to hear the tunes and melodies.
Chance loves to learn songs and sing. It takes him longer to learn songs and as far as singing right on tune, he struggles. Heck, I don't sing right on tune either. Our state AGBell Conference had a session on music and cochlear implants. The presenter made the point that people with no hearing loss range across the board with regards to being able to carry a tune. There are factors such as natural ability even if the hearing loss was not considered.

So we'll see how Chance does with all of these new songs at his disposal.

Monday, December 22, 2008

To hear, or not to hear........

One thing about having a deaf child that we realized from the very begining of our adventure, is deciphering what your child heard and what they did not hear can be a challenge.

Chance hears most of what goes on around him but we harbor no illusions that he hears everything. There are times when he does not hear us, that is to be expected. The interesting part comes when we try to find fact from fiction.

Chance's siblings will claim not to hear us sometimes when they are playing outside and don't want to come in yet. "I didn't hear you!" They will lament when we give them repercussions for coming in late for dinner. Sure, they don't hear us all of the time even with their perfectly functioning ears, but sometimes as a parent you just know that you are being had.

When it comes to Chance, it gets harder. "I didn't hear you." could very well be the truth. Or, it could be that he was having so much fun building the snow fort that he didn't want to come right when we called.

How is a parent to know for sure?

Maybe years down the road at some family function, our kids will have "confessionals" about things they did that we did not know about when they were young. Little inside stories they will have about the times they duped us or got away with things.

I personally had confessionals of deeds done in childhood with my siblings while my parents interjected with things like, "You WHAT?" or "Where did you do this?"
Like the times we jumped off of grandma's old shed into the snow drifts. Dangerous, spangerous......it was well worth the risk.

Perhaps someday Chance will clarify for us times when he pretended not to hear us. Most of the time, Chance seems very sincere in his claims that he does not know because he did not hear us. Chance's face is so expressive, that you can tell a lot from just looking at him, For now, we just have to take his word for it sometimes. In this regard, Chance does have it easier than his siblings. We are much more doubtful of his siblings claims of hearing loss.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Chance's dad was walking with some co-workers to a meeting when one of them started talking about his daughter and her introductory sign language class in a charter elementary school. This was not a co-worker who Chance's dad knew real well and so he mentioned that he had a deaf son. (What are the odds that as you're telling people about your daughter's sign language class, you happen to be talking to someone with a deaf child?)

The co-worker then asked Chance's dad if used sign language with Chance.

Chance's dad replied "No" and before he could explain any more about it, the co-worker said," Well you should!"

His daughter has an introduction to sign language, along with a couple of other languages, and told her dad about it and now he feels he should tell us what our son needs. This disturbed me when I first heard the story.

Chance's dad did not let this comment go. He proceeded to explain Chance's capabilities and abilities, and to educate that there are various communication methodologies and approaches for deaf children, and that deaf children can in fact learn to hear and speak and do very well.

We feel that there is no need to be mean or rude to anyone, but there is also no need to let people go uneducated about deaf kids being able to hear like our son. Maybe this man is one of those people who would have given his opinion on what you should do if you were talking about your child staying out too late or anything else for that matter.
I think our family will continually be educating people about deaf children speaking simply because so few people know anything about it. We didn't know anything about deafness or the option of deaf children learning to hear.
I think the moral of the story here is that one should not proceed to tell a parent how to speak to their deaf child after hearing second hand reports about a first year sign language class;)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Chance acts out in a moment of passion

The other night Chance, who was tired and worn down, got mad at me. Not an atypical thing for an 8 year old to do, but Chance decided to really show me that he meant business.

As he stood in the middle of our living room, he told me he was never going to listen to me again. Kind of rude I thought.

Then to punctuate that statement, he threw his implants onto the floor.

At this gesture, I had some feelings of my own that I wanted to punctuate. I calmly walked over, picked up the implants and making sure that Chance was looking at me so that he would understand, I told him the implants were now mine.

Chance gasped and let out a very alarmed "NOOOOO!" It was quite obvious that he was already rethinking the wisdom of his actions. And the look on his face pleaded with me not to take his implants.

I felt we had to have some punishment so that we did not have a repeat of this behavior in the future. I took the implants and put them in a secure spot and we had dinner. Chance could not hear anything of course. He did not like that state of being.

Chance did not end up without implants for long. We had a babysitter coming to watch the kids that night. We did not feel that we could tell our first time babysitter, "By the way, Chance won't hear anything you say so good luck with that. See ya."

After the implants went back on, a very meek and humble Chance informed me he would never throw his implants again.

It ended up being about 20 minutes and Chance was shaken. I could tell that he was sorry the moment he hucked his implants, but he needed to know that we were serious about no one throwing the implants - not even him.

Chance's dad pointed out that if anyone else had thrown his implants, Chance would have been very upset and made a point to stop them. He has done that before when his baby brother took them off and threw them on the carpet. Chance was alarmed and desperately picked them back up so he could return them to their rightful spot. We have very strict rules in our house about everyone respecting the implants and not taking them off of Chance's head.

Now Chance has been reminded that ANYONE who disrepects the implants will face consequences. Anyone:)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Chance and the ringing of the bells

Not only did Chance get to attend a play of "A Christmas Carol" this past week, but he also got to attend a musical Christmas program put on by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and guest Brian Stokes Mitchell this past week.

The choir was in fine form and Brian Stokes Mitchell was humorous and charismatic. The various musical numbers included the use of dancers and bell-ringers.

When the bells were first used in the program, Chance's mouth fell partly open and he scanned the stage with a smile on his face as he enjoyed the sound. That is one thing about Chance, he is very expressive and you can see his emotion written all over his face sometimes.

He liked the dancing and told us that it was one of his favorite parts after the program.

It is so satisfying to watch Chance catch a bit of humor and laugh out loud at live events. He is hearing what is said and can enjoy along with everyone else. It touches my heart and I am filled with gratitude.

There was a section of the program when actor Edward Herrmann narrated the story of "Longfellow's Christmas" which is the story of the writing of "I Heard the Bells." Chance had a hard time following the whole story but luckily we had realized that a big video screen was scrolling the words to the story as well as the songs over to the side of us. (It was actually playing the part of teleprompter for the choir and guest artists for where the various parts started/stopped/overlapped) We pointed this out to Chance and he could then utilize the screen as a resource if he needed extra help to follow along.

Chance did very well sitting and listening. At one point, he realized that the seats we were sitting on had a screw tucked right under where your legs go and he had to hop off his seat to see how it was held together, but once he knew, he was fine. That is just Chance though. He is curious about things and wants to know how they work.

It would be good for Chance to be exposed to more musical programs. He can learn to appreciate music in general, and music through an implant.

No one knows for sure how well music comes through an implant. It depends on exposure, familiarity with music, the kind of music and the implant wearer themselves. Chance has always enjoyed music. Both before he went deaf and now. Chance only heard to about 13 months of age, but even then he loved music. My personal journal that I kept at the time, talked about how Chance would come dashing into the living room when I turned on the music, no matter where he was in the house.(Chance walked at 10 months and by 13 months was quite self sufficient in his ability to navigate the house) He loved to dance with me and would come into the room when the music was turned on and want to dance.

Chance loves music now. He proudly comes to me and wants me to hear the song he now knows all of the words to when he learns a new one. Music is important to Chance and we would like to give him every opportunity to appreciate music and hone his musical skills.

Chance gets up close and personal with Scrooge

We took Chance and his brother to see "A Christmas Carol" this past week. It was a play put on in a local theater, in a theater-in-the-round. I went last year and ended up sitting right on the floor of the theater and thought Chance would enjoy sitting there too. I thought it would help him pay attention and put him in the middle of the action.

Chance's brother and I read the book a few weeks ago, but I thought the book's language might be a bit much at this stage for Chance. Of course the play used the same style old language that was in the book, but we were prepared for that. We told Chance the general story before attending the play, and then took a notebook and pen to the play. We knew that there would be many words that Chance might not know, and we didn't want him to feel lost in the story. We also didn't want to disturb the people around us if Chance had lots of questions.

It worked out quite well. Chance could write down any of his questions and we could write down brief descriptions of what was happening in the story if we thought Chance was struggling or if the vocabulary or accents of the actors got complicated.

Chance really enjoyed the play and laughed out loud when he got the humor of some scenes. Scrooge turned to the crowd and made comments a few times, and the 2nd ghost was quite the jokester.

Since we were on the front row, the graveyard scene where a "fog" was spread across the floor fascinated Chance. Suddenly, we found our feet engulfed in a cloudy fog. Chance reached down and touched it, trying to feel it and sitting in awe trying to figure out where it was coming from.

I know that Chance did not catch all of the dialogue in the play and the vocabulary challenged him, but he really enjoyed it. We would like to expose Chance to more plays etc. The story of " A Christmas Carol" is one of those general knowledge topics that society at large is going to know about. Chance needs to be familiar with these things too.

He wanted to know as we walked out of the play when we would be attending another play. So I think it was a hit.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The rat saga continues...

The rat saga continues.
We took the snake back to its owner on Friday, and the plan was that the rat would go back to the pet store who have a policy of taking rats back if your snake won't eat them.
Saturday morning we awoke to the excitement of a visit from Sinter klaus(from the Netherlands) who had left little treats in the wooden shoes we had left out the night before.
We also awoke to the news that the rat had gotten out of his cage during the night. It is mornings like this that I can see the advantage of not being able to hear first thing in the morning.
Later that night, just as the kids were all asleep and Chance's dad and I were literally starting a movie, I saw a shadow in the lights of the Christmas tree run behind the tree and go behind the piano.
This is how it came to be that we found ouirselves in Chance's bedroom after chasing the little critter from behind the curio, and in and out of Chance's sister's room.
Rats can jump. Quite high.
They also squeal and try to bite when they get agitated.

Chance slept blissfully on (sans implants), while his dad and I had discussions like,"Where did he go?" and "Look how high he is jumping!"
I half lay half sat on the floor smacking the rats toosh with a yardstick to get him to go in the direction of Chance's dad who had a box ready to trap him.
I imagined how a conversation with my OBGYN would go if I had to call him and tell him that I had been bitten by a rat. In college I had a class which required us to train a rat to press a lever to get water. The outcome of this training was a major part of our grade. After training our rat for several days, I noticed that his nose seemed to be bleeding. The lab assistant said that indicated a problem and we would need to get a new rat. To thank me for my trobules, the rat let out a shrill cry that I will never forget and then he bit me. I ended up having to get a tetnus shot in the student center. After chasing this rat around Chance's bedroom, I am glad to report that I did not feel the disdain that I once did for rats. I seem to have gotten over the trauma of my college days. Though, I resoved that I would not be picking this rat up. Especially as he had attempted to bite Chance's dad already.
I asked Chance's dad at one point if he thought any of our neighbors ever found themselves doing this sort of activity at night after their kids had gone to sleep. He assured me he was certain they did not,

Chance slept totally undisturbed as his dad and I wrestled with the "pet" rat in his bedroom mere feet from his bed. He would have been quite amused to see the event had he been awake.
It all ended well. At least for us. The rat ended up in the shoebox and back into his cage though he gave a good fight to the very end.

This rat will not be a new pet in our house. We don't need this much excitement, our lives are rich enough already.
Hopefully the rat will end up with some snake who will eat him quickly and painlessly and then he can join his past rat buddies in heaven. That way it will have ended well for all involved.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Tackle football

Some boys in the neighborhood came over this afternoon and wanted Chance's brother to join them for a game of tackle football after his chores were done. They told him that he needed to bring along a buddy to even out the teams. He immediately thought of Chance. While I think that is great that he wanted to include his brother, I wasn't sure how excited I was about Chance playing tackle football.
What could I say though, "Sorry, you play but not your brother. He can't do things like that?"
We always said that we would let Chance be like any other boy his age.
Tackle football is a new activity for the boys in the neighborhood, so I wasn't even sure how rough they play.
One of Chance's implants had a chunk missing out of the tiny little barbs that connect the two parts together and the implant parts box was not in its proper place, so we were going to wait for Chance's dad to get home to see if he knew where the other implant was. So Chance was running on one implant. It sounds silly I am sure to most implant wearers since they always only have one implant, but when Chance only has one implant there is such a difference in what he hears.
I told Chance's brother to remember that Chance only had one implant on and so would not be hearing as well as usual.
I contemplated Chance playing football and then decided that he should be able to give it a try. I made him put on his mold so that his implant would be more secure. I also realized that the boys who were playing were not that much bigger than Chance in size so they shouldn't be able to mutilate him. Last but not least, Chance is fast, really fast. I figured that maybe he would always just get away and not be tackled:)
It all must have gone well because Chance came home in one piece and had no complaints. I don't know how often Chance will want to play tackle football from here on out. I guess we'll just have to see.

Monday, December 01, 2008

It all started with a ball python.....

It all started with a ball python. The python is the reason we have a rat.

We were asked to watch a pet ball python over the Thanksgiving holiday. We have watched this snake before and the kids love him. He is small as far as pythons go...3 feet at best.

When we got him, he was shedding. His eyes were all cloudy and he was not interested in being held or eating. We figured we had the snake for 6 days, so at some point, the shedding would be complete and we could feed him a rat. The kids really wanted to see the snake eat a rat.

During a rash judgement call on my part Saturday night, I thought the snake was done shedding. His eyes were clear and it had been 6 days for heavens sake. Just goes to prove that I don't know everything. The snake was NOT done shedding so he had no interest in the rat we bought at the pet store for him to eat.

We figured by Sunday night though, the snake banquet could begin.

Apparently, the rat did some sight seeing before Sunday night.

Chance and his brother asked if they could walk to church on Sunday morning. It was a nice day so we told them we would meet them at the church. Our church is 3 hours long, and after the first hour, I came home since I was not feeling well. The kids went to their individual classes and Chance's dad went to the adult class.

Apparently, Chance's brother was joined in class by the rat who was in an empty oatmeal container. Chance and his brother wanted to show their friends at church their "pet" rat.

The woman over the children's classes took the rat after all the kids in class could identify him and gave him to another woman who graciously cared for the rat during church.

I found out about the rat visit to the church this morning when Chance's sister started telling me bits and pieces of a story involving a rat being in the oatmeal container at church. It didn't occur to me that the story could possibly be true. Our children would not dare take a rat to church and besides, we are more diligent parents than that.

As the morning wore on though, and the story kept coming up, I called out to Chance's brother.
"You didn't take the rat to church yesterday did you?" I asked in a doubting voice.
My question was met by a long silence. Then a small voice answered back, "yes."

I immediately called Chance's dad. He was in a sort of shock. I think he may have fallen off his chair at work.

"You didn't see the container when the kids came to meet you after church?" I asked trying to envision how the boys could be carrying a rat around church while we as parents remained so pure and innocent in our knowledge of their activities.

"I didn't see a thing." He answered.

Chance's sister talked about meeting daddy after church and asking if they could walk home while the boys held the rat in the oatmeal container.

I feel like I am taking part in a Huckleberry Finn novel. All I can say is, I left early. I was not even in the vacinity.

Since we all sat together for the first hour of church, I wanted to know where the rat was during that time. Certainly, he had not been under our seats while we sang hymns and listened to talks. We may have had to turn in our parental license had that been the case.

It turns out, the rat was up on the lost and found shelf during the combined hour of church. This shelf is located in a main hallway above the coat hangers. I wonder if anyone heard scracthing as they hung up their jackets.

The boys grabbed the rat after we all separated to attend our individual classes. And after all of this show and tell, no one at church said a word to us as parents. Maybe everyone involved felt sorry for us. They figured we must be having problems at home that prohibites us from truly watching our own children. Now I am left to wonder, how many people know about the rat?

One of my best friends has assured me that I am still a good mother.

Chance and his brother take a rat to chruch. I am sure this is one of the stories we will all laugh out loud about in the years to come. I can see the appeal of wanting to share your pet rat. Only, this rat will be snake food and the boys attachment will soon end in heartache and tears. What will they tell all of their church friends next week when they ask about the rat?

Apparently, we need to start frisking Chance and his brother before they leave for church each Sunday.