Monday, March 30, 2009

The art of laughing at the situation.....

We attended the birthday party of one of Chance's cousins recently. It was a double birthday party for Chance's grandmother and his cousin who was turning 3. The cousin had family from both sides of the family in attendance. We see these people at a few birthday parties each year so Chance knows them by face, but does not really know them personally.

When it was time to have cake and ice cream, Chance's aunt announced that there were two kinds of cakes.....yellow and chocolate. These were not your run of the mill cakes baked in 9' by 11' inch pans and smeared with frosting. They were homemade cakes, with homemade icing set up on pedestals. One of the cakes was made in the shape of a barbie dress and barbie herself was sticking out of the middle like the cake was her party dress.

When it was announced that one cake was chocolate and one was yellow, Chance who was standing next to the counter said, "One is jello?"

There was soft laughter from a few people behind me and Chance's face flushed.

Chance's uncle repeated a little louder, "Chance, this one is yellow." and pointed to a pitcher of lemonade on the counter. Chance nodded.

Immediately after that, I heard the same people behind me say things like,"It looks like it could be jello." And "It sounded almost like jello."

I was appreciative of the attempts to help Chance not feel bad about his mistake. Once people realized that Chance had just not heard the word right, they were quick to understand.

It got me thinking though, that Chance will encounter many such instances in his life and some people may not be very observant and realize that Chance has implants and may not hear everything perfectly. And a few callous people may not care that Chance has implants. They will find it funny that he made a mistake.

I want Chance to be able to take these moments in stride and not feel mortified. He has nothing to be embarrassed about. He will not hear everything perfectly and he will find himself hearing things wrong sometimes. The trick is to teach him to have the confidence and the attitude to help him face such situations with out feeling stupid or embarrassed. I'm sure he'll be embarrassed sometimes that he did not hear something right, but I want to help him learn to get over it quickly and move on. I don't want him to retreat socially or anything like that because he fears he may make a mistake.

Chance did seem to recover quickly. He was soon sitting down at the same table with the people who had laughed and he was at ease.

Hopefully, Chance will accept the fact that he will hear things wrong sometimes, but that he is not defined by those mistakes.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Caught red handed

Not being able to hear with out his implants, definitely puts Chance in a compromising situation at bedtime.

Unlike his siblings who can hear us coming down the hall when they are supposed to be sleeping, Chance is left high and dry.

Chance's siblings can rush back to their beds, pulling the covers over them and fake deep slumber if they hear us coming.(like we don't hear them dashing back to the bed).

Chance, however, is regulated to continuing on what ever activity he has engaged in when he got out of bed when we walk in. Therefore, we catch him in the act and he has no recourse but to admit defeat. (Sometimes, he'll feel vibrations on the floor, or see the shadow as we approach, giving him a heads-up.)

He still has the option of looking at us, the picture of innocence and saying something like, "I was asleep, but then something woke me up."

Yes, not being able to hear, definitely puts Chance at a disadvantage when he is supposed to be asleep and we come into check on him.

The up side for him will come later when he himself is a father. He will honestly be able to say that he did not hear anyone throwing up, getting out of bed or making noise in the bedroom. He can blissfully sleep through all of that.....with a valid excuse as to why he did not get up to help:)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dancing with the stars

We sometimes watch 'Dancing With the Stars" at our house. My youngest son asked me to dance with him the other night when it was on, so I spent the hour prancing around the living room with my son. He does quite well I must say.

I always admire how the dancers seem to have hips that are not attached to the rest of their bodies. They can shimmey and twist like there are no ligament or bone attachments to their legs like the rest of us have.

It occurred to me as I was watching the dancing that Chance has those detached hips. He will do a sort of victory dance when he is happy or excited about something and it occurred to me that Chance has the build and the moves of a dancer.

I think it would be fabulous if Chance wanted to learn to dance. We would be wasting good hips if we didn't enroll him in dance lessons of some kind.

Plus, there would be the added bonus of him learning to move to the beat of the music. Chance does love to dance and will show us dance moves that he has made up at school. He must have a friend at school who likes to groove, because I am remembering 3 or 4 instances this school year when he has come home and shown me a dance move that he did with his friend.

Besides, knowing how to dance could come in handy when he marries our back door neighbor. I know very few women that do not like to dance.

Chance would be the man if he could learn to swivel those hips into action to the beat of the music.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Your fly is open

Every once in a while, we give Chance little lessons about the culture that he lives in. Things that he has not as of yet picked up on.

Today, our lesson was on his "fly."

It was open, and I told him that he needed to zip up his pants. Then it occurred to me that someone else may tell him something like, "Chance your fly is open." And he would have absolutely no idea what they were talking about.

I had a thought of Chance being told that his fly was open and Chance standing there, a very perplexed look on his face as he searched the air for flies.

So, I explained to him that the zipper on his pants was sometimes called a fly. When Chance gave me a look of, "What are you talking about," I pointed out that it was called a fly and I didn't know why but it was.

Then I told him that if his zipper was undone, someone may tell him,"Your fly is undone. Or zip up your fly."

I could tell that this concept was new to Chance and that he never must have heard the phrase before.

We learn something new every day, they say, and today Chance learned that he has a fly.

This lesson could very well save Chance from a very embarrassing situation down the road.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Moms and Muffins

Chance's school holds a "moms and muffins" night each year where moms have a chance to read to their kids and chomp down on muffins and milk.

Chance and I attended this year and brought some of our favorite stories to share.

The event was held in the school gym and the walls were literally covered with bodies as moms spread out with their kids to munch and read.

We found a spot on the stairs of the stage near one of Chance's friends and his mom. It was one of his friends who also wears an implant.

We were sandwiched in on all sides. People were next to us, on the step above us and on the step below us.

I made the comment to Chance's friends mother that the acoustics in the gym were not that conducive to hearing a story if you have an implant on. She agreed.

Chance and I started reading a story, but it was so noisy with other moms and kids reading and kids running around the gym that I suggested to Chance that we move to a quieter spot.

"Chance, is it too loud in here?" I asked.

"What?" Chance responded. (there was my answer)

"Can you hear me?" I asked.

Chance shook his head no.

"Do you want to go somewhere else where is it not so noisy?" I asked leaning in closer.
Chance eagerly agreed.

As Chance and I were having this conversation, I noticed that the mom right above us on the steps kept looking at me as she read. I thought it was odd since she was trying to read a book but she kept looking at us.

From her expression, I realized that she may have gotten offended thinking that I thought she and her daughter were reading too loud.

Chance was already half way across the gym by the time I gathered up the books. The mom above us was still watching me with an expression that seemed to say that she thought I was rude.

I didn't have time to chat, but don't know what I would have said anyway. I don't know if she noticed the implants, or if she was just thinking I was making a statement by getting up and leaving.

Having Chance has made me realize that you can't really judge a situation you see out in public. Chance threw a fit once in Target right after we found out he was deaf and before we had hearing aids. He was hungry, and I was trying to tell him that we were heading over to his grandma's to eat right after we were done shopping. He wasn't catching on so he collapsed in the back of the cart and just cried. Very loudly.

A woman across the isle just stopped everything she was doing and watched. As Chance's dad and I tried to help Chance understand what was going on, this woman gave us disapproving looks. She made it obvious that she thought our child was completely out of control and she didn't think we were handling the situation right. I wondered at one point if I should offer her some popcorn to got along with the show.

You never know what is going on with someone else. I have a few friends who have kids with autism and they talk about how they hate to go shopping because people glare and nod disapprovingly when their autistic child throws a fit or is loud.

I hope the woman did not take the situation personally. It is all in the perception sometimes.
I am not too worried about it though. I just try to remember when I am out and about that things are not always what they seem on the surface.

Chance and I ended up leaving the gym and finding a bench out in the hall. There was hardly anyone else out there so we got in some good story time.

God Bless America

The annual Alexander Graham Bell Speech Fair is coming up and Chance's class is singing the song,"God Bless America."

He learned the song as a poem to pass off in class a few weeks ago. At the time, he just recited the words. For the past 2 weeks, Chance and his class have been learning to sing the song for the Speech Fair.

Chance really likes the song. He wanted to sing the song when he passed it off in class.

It has been interesting to hear Chance practice each night. He is getting the gist of the tune of the song, but he does not have it just yet.

We don't know exactly what tune sounds like through the implants so it is hard to know how to help him.

We sat down with him at the piano and showed Chance how the notes went up and down. Today when he sang the song for me, Chance's hand was doing something off to the side as he sang. At first I only saw it out of the corner of my eye and I wondered if he was signing the song while he sang. When I really looked I saw that he was using his hand to dictate when the notes went up and down. They must have been using that as an aid in class to help the kids realize when the notes went up and down.

Chance is excited to perform this song and he has practiced diligently every night.
We don't expect perfection. Truthfully, we just don't know what we should expect. Each person with an implant is different with what they hear. There is a teacher at the School for the Deaf who got an implant within the last 5 years. She is a lot like Chance in the fact that she had hearing at birth and lost it when she was a toddler. She teaches piano lessons and is quite good at playing the piano. Obviously she is hearing the different notes and picking up when things are off key.

Maybe this is something that Chance just needs to practice and we'll see what his potential is as far as singing, and discerning the subtle difference in notes.

Chance wants to learn to play the guitar. Maybe we should sign him up and see if he likes it after 2 months of lessons. Will he still like to learn a few months out, or will he be like thousands of other kids across the nation who start a musical instrument only to be bribed and coerced by their parents to keep practicing?

Chance makes a phone call

While driving down the road, I received a phone call from home. When I called back, no one was quite sure who had called me.

"Did anyone call mom?" Chance's older brother asked doubtfully.
From somewhere in the background, I heard Chance's voice.

"I did."

A moment later, a very serious Chance was on the phone.

"Why did you take the baby to the hospital?"

It occurred to me then that Chance may not have got on to exactly what had happened.

Chance had been playing at a neighbor's house while I took his little sister into the doctors office. I ended up calling the neighbor and telling her that Chance's dad would be coming to get the kids in a minute because I was heading over to the hospital to have the baby tested for RSV.

I don't know what information was passed onto Chance by the neighbor, his dad or his brother, but apparently, Chance did not get the whole story.

After a while, he just decided to take matters into his own hands and called my cell phone. By the time he called, I was actually on the way home.

"Where is the baby now?" Chance wanted to know.

"She is with me and we are almost home." I told him.

"O.k. Bye." Chance said sounding quite relieved.

When we got home, Chance actually met us at the end of the driveway. He wanted to check and make sure that the baby was indeed ok before we went any further.

The implant comes home

We found the implant. It only took about 5 hours, a drive through the neighborhood and several searches after the kids had gone to bed.

It turns out the implant was still in the suit jacket pocket which had been pushed back under the train table in Chance's room.

There is never a dull moment with kids. Especially a kid who has devices held onto his head with a magnet.

It is a good thing that we found the implant because Chance needed it to win the bingo game at school. He came home with a construction paper crown with shamrocks on wire attached to it. Oh, and gold wrapped gum.

I was glad to hear that Chance had won the bingo game. He won first out of his entire class which means that he was hearing in class just fine.

A classroom can be one noisy place and I was glad to see that Chance heard what he needed to win the game.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

No more pockets

As of right now, Chance can not find one of his implants. He put it in the pocket of his suit coat that he wore to church. Now he can not find his suit coat.

I think Chance will be forbidden from having pockets from now on. Life is just too short to have to worry about Chance losing an implant in a pocket. Of course, without the pockets he would probably set the implant down in some abstract location and not remember where it was.

I guess the batteries ran out on the implant so Chance, who was walking home from church with a friend, decided to take the implant off.

It has now been several hours since any of us have seen Chance's suit coat. His dad saw Chance wearing it when he passed him in the van coming home from church.

Chance swears he never took the suit coat off until he got home from church. We have been searching all over the house but have so far come up empty.

Chance's dad is about to go out in the dark and search the route that Chance walked to see if he can spot the suit coat anywhere.

Luckily, I have been reading a book about positive thinking lately, so I am concentrating on repeating,' We will find the implant. We will find the implant."

Somewhere out there, is an implant with our name on it and I think it wants to come home. We certainly want it to come home. I think the other implant is getting lonely.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chance picks a mate

Chance has proposed to our back door neighbor. It happened while I was doing my hair in the bathroom and the window was open. Chance saw his true love outside in her yard, and when teased about loving her by his brother, he simply yelled through the window that he wanted to marry her.

I think she may have yelled back "ok."

Well, now we have that part of Chance's life planned out.

Chance actually proposed a while ago, but apparently, the flame still burns strong. Chance's brother teased Chance about loving this same girl again and Chance did not refute it.

I have to say though, that I think Chance may have had some other crushes on girls at school.
Chance's brother would (and still does sometimes), kind of gag if you teased him about girls.
Chance was never like that. He would just get a shy little look on his face. Maybe not being able to hear for those first few years made Chance unaware that girls have cooties.

The back door neighbors are friends of ours and they have agreed that the kids getting married would be a good match. So, like I said. We have that part of Chance's life planned out.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Football and drippy clothes

I got up the other morning thinking I was so on the ball.  I had Chance's breakfast ready and waiting on the table, Chance was almost ready for school and a load of laundry was  humming along in the washing machine.

Then I realized that Chance did not have his implants on.  It would be great entertainment for an outside observer to peek in at our house when we all think Chance has his implant on and he doesn't.  It takes us a minute to realize that all of our talking, explaining or asking is not making a dent in Chance's thinking since he can't hear anything that  we say.

I put myself in Chance's line of vision and asked him where his implants were.  He then told me that he didn't know, he had given them to me the night before.  

That was right, he had handed one implant to me as he lay in bed.  Only one though.   Once that one implant was on,  I asked Chance where the other implant was.  He informed me that it was in the pocket of his robe.  From there, our conversation was like a comedy of errors.

"You weren't wearing your robe last night, why did you put your implant in your robe? "  I asked him.

"Because  the top part kept turning when I was playing football so I took it off."

Now isn't that just logical.  Chance put his implant in his robe pocket when he was playing football. Why hadn't I thought of looking in his robe pocket ?    All I can say is, I left the house for about 40 minutes the night before so I don't know exactly what happened.  

When I asked Chance where his robe was,  he told me that he didn't know.  Thus began a hunt that I recruited all of the kids to participate in.

Suddenly, I felt ill.  There was a load of laundry all wet and soapy sloshing around in the laundry room.  It was a load of mostly towels, but a fluffy robe easily could have been included in the laundry basket.  I started to wonder if I should just pull all of the drippy clothes out one by one to verify if the robe was in the load. Just as I was thinking I would need to drive Chance into school since his van would be there any minute,  someone found the robe and the implant in the pocket. 

Had we not found the second implant,  Chance could have gone to school with just one of course.  But I knew that he wouldn't stand for that.  He does not just do one implant anymore unless there is an emergency situation.  Like he is on the soccer field in the middle of a game.  Or he is in the middle of watching fireworks, or we've told him that he only has 5 minutes left to play with his friends.   If there is not an "emergency" situation, then Chance will not stand for only wearing on implant.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What's in a story...

This past week Chance participated in his school's story telling contest.  He decided on his own to just go ahead and get up to tell a story to his class.

The flier for the contest came home in his backpack  shortly after the baby was born and  when I saw it, I didn't even ask Chance about it since I assumed that he would not be interested.  

The night before the contest,  Chance informed me that he was going to tell a story for the contest.  He was quite confident and wondered aloud if he would get the trophy.  Then he told me that the winners would stand up and tell their story to the whole school at an assembly.  I knew this as last year on the day that I usually helped out in the classroom,  was the day the assembly was held.  I was already at the school anyway, so I decided to check out the assembly.  It was cute to have the finalist up on the stage telling their story.  The kids did a really good job.

I was surprised to hear that Chance was so enthusiastic to tell a story because last year, I tried to get Chance to participate in the festival  but he was not interested.    I thought he would enjoy telling a story to his class as he is good at story telling.   But, Chance was adamant last year that he did not want to get up and tell a story to his class.

It seems Chance's teacher had reminded the kids about the story telling  contest  in class and Chance decided that he would be telling a story the next day.

I had seen how prepared these kids were last year, and I was slightly concerned about how Chance would do since he had not been practicing any story.   Chance walked around the house telling me the different options that he had in way  of stories that he could tell.  Most of his ideas were stories from books that we have at home.  

Then,  Chance decided to  tell a story that he had made up.  The story can be an original work,  so that was ok.  I just didn't know how this whole story telling would go over.  Chance had not practiced and I was nervous that if he mispronounced a word, or used the wrong verb tense that some of the kids in his class might make fun of him.  This was a big step that he was taking to tell a story he made up in front of his whole class.  I wanted the experience to be a positive one.

In the end,  Chance told me his story to me and then to his dad when he got home.  He did a good job.  It was a cute story about an eagle and a raccoon.  There was an error in his use of a verb tense and his choice of words in one part was a little odd, but the story was really good and Chance was confident.  His story showed a lot of creativity.

I figured that Chance did a great job telling us his story and he was confident.  So his story might not be perfect and maybe some of the kids would snicker if he used the wrong verb tense.  Oh well.  Chance was excited and he is quite a capable kid.  

He came home from school with a certificate that acknowledged that he had participated in the story telling contest.  When I asked him how his story telling went, he said" good."   That was about all he could muster as he ran through the house to put his pack back away and get ready to play with his friends.   Chance does not often elaborate in great detail about what happens at school.  He sometimes says that he doesn't remember.  I don't think he does.  In his world, 5 hours before  is oh  soooooo long ago!

He didn't get the trophy or get invited to go on to the finals.  But he told his story and he is gaining confidence in getting up in front of people alone.   I couldn't ask for more.