Monday, October 26, 2009

Our exhange student

Once again, we have a Japanese exchange student staying at our house. It is a great experience and the kids just adopt him as a brother while he is here. The younger kids want him to watch all of their amazing tricks and the older ones want to show him all the activities that they find cool.

Our Japanese student is in the process of learning English and has an accent. I say this not to complain, but as one who has learned another language and lived in another country for a while. I find accents charming. The best thing about this year, is how well Chance can hear and understand in spite of the accent. Chance is part of the conversations and does not seem to be phased by the fact that our student has an accent. It is delightful that Chance is hearing so well.
Chance has helped to guide our student on a hike, attended a hockey game with him and taught him how to play the game "Rummikub".

Chance is patient and does not seem to get agitated when he and the student do not understand one another. Chance just tries again or uses different words or phrases. Chance would have an understanding about what it is like to struggle with hearing and being understood. Maybe Chance being deaf will give him a special understanding for people who struggle with language for what ever reason as he goes through life.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Chance as a son, but not a sibling

I love having Chance as a son. He is sweet, caring and fun. Chance is also a great brother, though he did something the other day that drove his brother a little nuts. I heard the boys having a disagreement about some game they were playing but then the talking stopped. A few minutes later, I asked Chance a question and his brother sighed and said,"He can't hear you."

"Why are his implants off?" I asked.

"No, we were having an argument about the game we were playing and Chance just took off his magnets so that he couldn't hear me. And he won't look at me either."

Sure enough, when I looked at Chance, his magnets were dangling off his head with the second part of the implant resting on his ears. And his eyes were closed.

I could see how this would be annoying to be in an argument with a brother who could flip off his hearing at will.

I couldn't help but think what an awesome trick this was to have in your arsenal. I would have LOVED to be able to signify to my siblings that the argument was now over because I was no longer hearing them:)

Chance's brother and I looked at each other realizing that neither of us would be heard at the moment and we started to laugh.

"Who else's brother can do that?" I asked as we watched Chance walk down the hall the magnets swinging at the side of his head."

"Only mine." His brother said smiling.

A sense of humor is a good thing to have when your brother has the ability to completely block you out.

Cookie cutters...who knew?

I have been organizing our pantry so I thought I should tell the kids where some of the things they use are now and how we all need to put them back when we are done.

I was telling the kids how the cookie cutters were in a box with a lid now and that when they were done using them with their play-doh, they needed to put them back.

Chance turned to look at me, his face confused."Cookie cutters?"

"The things we use to make shapes in cookie dough or play-doh," I explained.

"They are called cookie cutters?" Chance asked surprised.

"Yes, cookie cutters." I explained. No one makes me think of the wonder of our language and how we learn words more than Chance.

Chance's dad brought up to me when we were alone later that cookie cutters is a word that we only use about 3 times a year. It is a good word for Chance to be acquainted with.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fall and football

There is a crisp edge in the air and leaves can be found dancing in the wind across the sidewalk. For Chance and his brother this means that it is perfect football weather. The boys in the neighborhood gather at the end of the cul de sac and the game is on. There always seems to be someone willing to play football and Chance has been playing almost every day for weeks now. He loves it.

When playing football first came up with Chance, I admit to being apprehensive. CHANCE HAS HARDWARE IMPLANTED IN HIS HEAD, AFTER ALL! I kind of hoped football would be a passing fad among Chance's friends. But it hasn't been and I'm kind of glad. I have watched Chance out there with all of the boys chasing after the ball and arguing on whether the runner was out of bounds when he made the touchdown. (As near as I can tell, the boundary on one side is a flower bed) Chance's face glows as his cheeks flush with exertion and the wind ruffles his hair.

Luckily, the boys don't play tackle football all that often. They discovered that there were too many injuries. So they play two hand touch instead. That means that instead of tackling, you touch a player with both hands.

As an added bonus, Chance's implants hardly ever fall off while he is playing. This is a nice development since when Chance first got the implants, they would fall off when he played sports. We got snugglie things and headbands to hold them on for such moments. But Chance does not wear any of these things when he plays football out with the boys. I figure maybe his ears have grown big enough to help hold the implants on better. If Chance is playing more competitively like on his soccer league, he uses a headband to help keep the implants on. For now, there is no need for a snuggley when he plays is just Chance, his implants and the wide open spaces to play.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gramdma is amazed at what Chance can hear

The kids and I went on an impromptu outing with grandma and grandpa to feed the ducks a few days ago. The weather was great and grandpa had lots of extra bread so it was a perfect mix.
There were hoards of ducks and the longer we stayed, the more ducks appeared. It was kind of along the lines of "if you build it they will come". As we fed them, they came with all of their relatives, friends and neighbors. A great feeding frenzy is just the atmosphere that makes feeding ducks perfect. No matter how many kids are present there are enough ducks for everyone to feel appreciated as they throw crumbs of bread.

Chance ran with his siblings and cousins along the edge of the little pond gigging and tossing bread. Down at the far end of the pond, there was a big willow tree and Chance and a few of the other kids made their way down to the tree to check things out. When it was time to go Chance's grandmother called out to the kids by name.

I admit that in my mind, I thought,"there is no way that Chance heard that." My thought was that when Chance's older brother started walking toward us, I would tell him to tell Chance that it was time to go.

Then, lo and behold, who should be the first and ONLY child to turn around, look at us and start walking towards us? CHANCE! I was amazed and impressed. I never even would have attempted to call Chance from that long of a distance.

Chance's grandmother turned to me visibly amazed as well and said,"HE HEARD ME! HOW GREAT IS THAT?"

That is great indeed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Implants on T.V.

Just as a fluke, while flipping through the channels today, I came upon an educational station talking about cochlear implants. There were both implanted people and those in the Deaf community that gave their perspective on the implants. I was impressed with how impartial the program was. I did not feel that it took sides, but rather talked about different people and their personal choices on whether or not to get an implant.

The one thing that bothered me was when a woman in the Deaf community said that if she could she would like to tell parents of deaf kids to wait before getting the cochlear implant and to investigate all of the options. I actually agreed with her on that point. Parents should investigate what is available. The woman then said"Parents should wait and think about the options before getting an implant for their child they should not just get one before thinking things through." What bothered me about this comment is that I have heard it many times before and the implication is that we as parents just decide to get an implant for our children on a whim.

Deciding to get an implant for Chance was one of the most difficult decisions we have made. We studied and thought, and prayed for guidance. Every other parent I have talked to whose child has an implant went through a similar process. There was no instant decisions or rash surgeries. It is a myth that parents are jumping into getting an implant for their child without due diligence. At least the parents that I know who have implanted kids.

That aside, I have a lot of respect for the people in the Deaf community who they interviewed. I did not sense any hostility or anger at parents who get an implant for their children. They talked about why they personally decided not to get an implant and I respect that.

Chance thought the show was interesting though he only watched for a few minutes. During one of the signing segments, Chance informed me that in school last year he and his deaf peers would sign to each other if, as he put it,"it was a secret."

Kind of nice to have that option in school I would think. Your own "secret" language that you can share with your good friends when you don't want everyone to know what you are saying. Quiet too so the teacher doesn't suspect anything:)

Chance joins the choir

Chance has joined the choir with his brother at the local school. He is really liking it. I am glad as I feel that exposure to music and singing is very good for Chance. He typically takes a little longer to learn the songs than other kids do, so I have requested that the teacher send the music home so that we can work on the songs . She said one song won't be a problem but she has to check into copyrighting issues with the other songs. I can understand that, but hope it works out that we can have the music so that Chance can learn the songs as well as his peers.
The teacher said that she is glad to have the boys in her class and that they are good kids. That is always nice to hear as a mother:)
Chance is getting at least one of the songs as he walks around the house singing a song about reindeer feet. I can see a Christmas concert in our near future.
Chance is also taking piano lessons and is excited to be back into learning to play. Chance told me he wants to learn to play every kind of instrument. Quite an ambitious goal but hey, I want Chance immersed in music as much as possible.
Chance has let us know that after he has taken piano lessons for a while, he wants to take guitar lessons.
Let the music lessons role!

Friday, October 02, 2009

The pull of the implants...

Hee hee hee. The games have begun again as a new baby in our home is fascinated by Chance's implants. They hold such an allure. They are rare, since not all people have them, they are right in your face when Chance leans in for a kiss, and they blink red. What is not to love?!

Chance takes this with his usual good humor. He adores his baby sister and she loves him too. The implants are just another reason to love Chance :)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Chance does the Grand Canyon

Chance hiked down to Havasupai Falls at the bottom of the Grand Canyon with his dad, brother, uncle and 3 cousins. He loved it.

The trip required lots of preparation as the guys had to pack in all of their food, bedding, clothes, lighting(it gets dark at about 6:00 p.m), and M&M's. There are no campfires allowed so the boys had to plan for their cooking needs as well.

Once we got home, I received a postcard that the boys had sent to me from the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Chance wrote,"Mom, I'm having fun. We hiked into the city. I didn't die so far. The canyon is cool. We saw a wall of rocks. Chance"

It was nice to be reminded once at home that Chance did not die on the journey. The 7 hour hike to get to the actual camp ground must have made Chance wonder if he would be able to go on :)
The kids spent much of their days swimming in pools of water or jumping through waterfalls. This of course meant that Chance did not have his implants on during those times. He apparently wore the implants right up until the time he got into the water. Chance's dad said that he got hoarse calling out to the kids over the roar of the waterfalls (imagine the sound of 450 gallons per second hitting a pool of water after a 100 or 200 foot drop). Chance must have just blissfully floated along, enjoying the scenery not hearing any calling or distractions (although he does say that he could hear the waterfall - as a whisper of course - without his implants on). Chance swam well so the extra swimming lessons this summer apparently payed off.

Chance had a marvelous time and made memories that will last a lifetime.