Going into this, I’m already laughing at myself because I keep replaying in my head that Jeff Foxworthy (yes, the redneck guy) stand-up bit about how every parent thinks his/her kid is soooo SMART, and he tells the story of a family member who was so proud and bragging and going on and on about how smart his son was because “he walked outside the other day, looked up at the sky, pointed his finger and said, ‘Airpain! Airpain!'” And then, Jeff Foxworthy dons a disgusted look as if he’s addressing the family member and delivers the unimpressed response, “Well, yeah…but he’s 18!”
So with that in mind, I’ll tell you that I don’t think my son should be packing his bags for Harvard, or filling out MENSA applications just yet, but I am dumbfounded by the speed with which he is adapting to a whole new, big, loud world of sound! Over the past year, I watched my sweet boy absorb his world in silence; observing everything through his other four, very heightened, senses. When my Babyman had his cochlear implant activated on June 26th, our audiologist warned us that it wasn’t going to be some big production like all those YouTube videos you see of people hearing for the first time (see my post from June: https://miznattie.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/magic-ears/). Particularly with the little guys, the specialists tend to be very conservative when they’re first activating implants so as not to frighten or overwhelm them. Regardless, Frank and I showed up with our boy to the appointment and set our little video camera on a tripod and tried to catch a special moment. They had not lied…there really wasn’t one. What we walked away with was 30 minutes of video of our son sitting in a high chair, basically giving a tongue bath to a plastic bunny rabbit and throwing blocks on the floor while his audiologist adjusted and fiddled with and programmed his new apparatus, and while Frank and I sat off camera repeatedly calling his name and jingling toys and trying to determine whether or not he could hear us. It’s an Emmy-worthy segment, I assure you!
A few days later though, we woke up in the morning and put his “magic ear” on his head and made a couple of adjustments. It was a moment I will never forget. The volume setting for his implant was preset on “6”. I clicked up to “7” and he did not react. I clicked up again to “8” and in an instant, he sprang upright and his already big brown eyes grew to the size of dinner plates. Then he smiled the biggest smile I have ever seen and started clapping his hands!! I almost collapsed with joy! HALLELUJAH!!!! MY BABY CAN HEAR!!!!
Since then we have been making periodic adjustments to his cochlear implant and our Babyman has been soaking it all in. We continue to sign with him to give him as many communication options as we can (http://handsandvoices.org/comcon/articles/totalcom.htm). It’s profoundly humbling to watch him, no matter how young he is, blossom as he adjusts to life with his new gift — a gift that so many of us don’t ever wonder or worry about having or losing. It’s truly something we take for granted.
He’s been remarkably tolerant of having the device stuck to his head and I know he appreciates the benefits it provides him because he now seeks out sounds and relishes old toys that suddenly play music. He’ll look at me as if to say, “What the hell?!?!? Did you know this thing played songs?!?!”
The audiologists and speech therapists have emphasized that while he might be a 1-year old boy, his hearing is that of a newborn. We are, in the truest sense, taking baby steps. But still, I’ve longed to seize a moment. A moment where I can really and truly see everything coming together for him and clicking. A gift from the cosmos that says, “All the hard work you’ve done to love, help, and teach him, and all that he’s gone through with testing, surgery, and therapies, and having a cochlear device that he’ll have to wear for the rest of his life… it’s SO WORTH IT!! Your boy is so smart and he is thriving!!” Well, today I got my “airpain” moment!
My little man using ASL (american sign language) to sign duck and trying his damnedest to say QUACK-QUACK!!
Oh, what the hell… I’m calling MENSA now — just in case!!!