Tuesday, December 28, 2010

If the implants are off, just whisper

I witnessed a fascinating occurrence at our kitchen table this morning. Chance was playing Legos with his brothers and sisters without implants on. Ironically, the game required communication between the parties as one child was operating the airplane, another the police station and so on and so forth.
Chance could of course communicate his preferences just fine. He just couldn't hear if anyone disagreed with his line of thinking.

At one point, his sister took issue with where the runway for the airplane was. Chance looked up at her when she landed the plane in the wrong location according to his way of thinking.

So they argued:
Chance's sister whispering her opinion,  "Chance, there is not enough room there!"
Chance: 'Oh yes there is! It needs to land next to the police station where I made room!"
Chance's sister:  " No! Let's have an airport over here!"
Chance: " We have to leave room over there for the fire station!"

I'm not quite sure why Chance's sister felt the need to whisper. She knew he couldn't hear her, but maybe it freaks her out a little just to mouth the words to him so she whispers just so there is still sound coming out of her mouth. Chance tends to be loud sometimes when his implants are off. He has no idea how loud he is of course.

It was an interesting method of communicating. I sat just watching them fascinated and wondering how it would all end. They eventually came to some resolution with their little brother and sister code of communicating. I wonder if they'll do it again?

Note to self....

Note to self:  NEVER just pick up Chance's ipod and tune in to see what is playing. This act could cause some hearing loss for the hapless victim who wanted to know what Chance was listening to. Since Chance listens to the ipod through a NoizFree telecoil cable, we don't know exactly what the listening experience is like for him. But I now know, that he has that ipod volume cranked to the hilt as I casually picked up his ear buds and turned it on. Woo Hee, I may hear that song ringing in my ears for the rest of the night. Or possibly forever.

Sooooo, the next time I pick up Chance's implant to listen in, I am turning the volume down first or I may experience some hearing loss myself.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

I don't think Santa heard me

I can honestly say that we rarely have major mistakes or misunderstandings due to the fact that Chance is deaf anymore. Chance can hear so well with his implants combined with his being the ripe old age of 10 that we rarely have those heart breaking incidents that make our hearts cry because Chance missed some major event due to his deafness.

We had one of those during the children's program at church when Chance was about 5 years old. One of the songs the kids were singing had signs to go along with it and Chance loved that song. Unfortunately, Chance missed the first few notes of the song, so even though he was sitting right out front, he did not start with everyone else and it was kind of his song. As all of the kids around him started singing and signing, Chance looked around and burst into tears. I quickly joined him on the stage and tried to catch him up to speed, but he wanted them to start over so that he was ready. Programs usually don't stop and rewind though. He was heart broken.

We had another one of those moments on a train bond for the North Pole this past week on the North Pole Express. We had cookies and yummy hot chocolate, read stories and sang Christmas carols. All of this culminated with our arrival at the North Pole where Santa boarded the train and visited with each child. You can imagine the excitement and bustle that accompanies a train car loaded with children who are visiting with Santa.

When Santa got to our seats, we hurriedly gathered all of the kids together for a group photo. The lighting in the train car was dim and it took us a few seconds to get our camera on the right setting. After getting a very cute picture, it was time for each of our kids to tell Santa what gift their little hearts most desired for Christmas. Santa was a little bit in a rush this year and unfortunately, Chance was the child closest to Santa and he missed the question of "What do you want for Christmas?", and instead sat grinning his pleasure at being right next to Santa. Chance's dad and I had to point out to Chance that he needed to hurry and tell Santa what he wanted, since Chance had not heard the cue. If only only one of his siblings had been next to Santa to get the ball rolling with the gift requests, because it took Chance a few seconds to realize that it was his turn and he only got one little sentence out before Santa was hurriedly on the move to the next child.

It should be noted that we have ridden on the North Pole Express train several times over past Christmas seasons and usually the visit with Santa goes off with out a hitch. I think Santa was in a hurry to make sure he got to visit with all of the kids since we were on the first train car and their were many more cars loaded with waiting children.

It should also be noted that Chance is a dedicated believer, wondering over the magic of Santa and his reindeer and delighting in the whole Christmas season. He was therefore a little crest fallen at Santa's hurried manner since in all of the bustle and noise, Chance did not always hear things the first time they were said.

After Santa had moved on to the next row of kids, I saw that Chance looked a little bewildered and upset so I pulled him down next to me and asked in a cheery voice what he had asked Santa for. Chance hung his head as he tried to hide the tears that were forming.

"I didn't get to tell him I wanted a rubber band gun." Chance whispered. " I don't think he heard me because he was walking off."

This was the first I had heard about a rubber band gun and it turned out that Chance was hopping to rely the message to Santa that he wanted a long board AND a rubber band gun for Christmas.

When you are a true believer in the magic of Santa, this is a devastating development.

Luckily, Mrs. Claus comes through the train a bit after Santa, so after I explained that Chance was not able to tell Santa all that he wanted, Mrs. Claus got down at eye level with Chance and told him that she would give Santa the message with assurances that Santa really listened to her and she had some pull as far he was concerned.

So Chance is hoping that the message did indeed get passed on. He has been talking about the wonders that a rubber band gun would bring into his life and used the topic as the basis for his persuasive paper he had to write in 5 grade writing class.

I guess we'll see when we come out to see what is under the tree on Christmas morning.

The apology

Chance came home from cub scouts and I could tell that something wasn't quite right. I called him over to where I was doing the dishes and asked him what was up.
He told me that after scouts, the boys had all been playing on a trampoline and he had touched the football and one of the boys had shoved him.
"Then what happened?" I asked. "Did any of the boys say anything?"
"I don't know." Chance said,"because my implants fell off when he pushed me."
At this point I realized that this must have been quite a shove if it made Chance's implants come off.
"Did any of the boys say anything when he did that?" I asked.
"I don't know because I was getting my implants." Chance said.

This is where the beauty of having a deaf child comes in. I know the boy who shoved Chance and there has never been an issue with him before.

"Maybe he apologized while you were getting your implants." I said.

Chance shrugged.

"Ya, maybe he apologized and you just didn't hear it."

Since that really could have happened and we will never know for sure, I thought it was good for Chance to end our conversation on a positive note:)

Monday, December 06, 2010

The blessings of technology

One of our adult deaf friends saw Chance at a music conference and said that she was amazed to see that even with the noisy hallway and bustle, Chance was able to carry on a conversation with a woman she introduced him to with out looking at her the whole time.

Yes, we are thankful for technology and what it has done for Chance. He was truly born at a good time to be deaf, with the invention of implants and all of the technology that is available. From computers to texting to subtitles, being deaf isn't as isolating as it once was.

We feel very blessed to have Chance in our family and to all of those who have helped Chance and continue to help Chance blossom into an ordinary 10 year old boy who is not held back by being deaf.

Sometimes, I want to remind Chance that he is indeed deaf when he tries to tell me that he does not need his FM system in every class or when he lops questions at me through the shower curtain when his implants are off. Oh the funny stories we can tell when Chance has children of his own.

"Remember when you used to ask what we were doing that day as you lathered up in the shower and I came in to throw a towel over the rail? As if you could hear anything I said in response?"

"Remember how you would ask us about our conversations first thing in the morning when you weren't going to be able to hear any answer we gave?"

Good times, good times.

It is a good time with Chance. We are so grateful for him and for all that he adds to our family. And we continue to grow in gratitude for the devices that allow him to hear and mingle with all of the kids his age in school, at cub scouts and in the neighborhood.

I am so grateful to the man who invented implants. I hope he realizes what a blessing he is to kids like Chance.