All who have multiple children know that each one is wonderfully different. You can raise ’em the same, yet they have their own amazing quirks and personalities, strengths and passions. This could not be more true of my two boys.
My youngest is now 5. He has always been the rough and tumble type. Everything is a competition to him. (Even last night he was standing on his tippy toes trying to be ‘taller’ when raising his hand at church!) He is funny, outgoing, and a firecracker. He is a joy.
Yet school stuff has not yet become his thing. He seemed disinterested in learning his letters, yet loved to be read to. He never wanted to sit with me and learn the components all say are so important for kinder. His preschool teachers said it would come; that he just was a busy bee and had other, more important things to care about. And honestly, I believed that too. He loves to create, tell stories, sing, build, and live outdoors. Who was I to take that away from him?
So when his amazing preK teacher suggested a hearing test, I was on board. No big deal; just go do it and cross it off as another thing we did. It came back inconclusive. Went for an ENT hearing test. The results were staggering; at least 30% hearing loss in each ear. The doctor said, “Think of being submerged underwater for 5 years of your life, trying desperately to hear what people are saying. That is what your son has lived through.” I am still teary thinking about this. I am a fricking educator! How did I not catch this? I was in denial as well, until that very day driving home I asked my boy if he saw the cool tree. “Tree?” “Yes, the tree over there (I pointed out the car window.).” “Like, dessert?” And that is when it hit me. My child wasn’t hearing.
We started to notice. He said, “What?” almost every time you told him something. He couldn’t hear the TV clearly; he was reading lips (which we now know why he would never answer us when watching TV; he was too focused on the screen to hear us). In preK, during circle time, he struggled to hear all the conversations and his body would just be exhausted from trying to listen that he gave up. When listening to a story, he focused on the pictures for meaning versus our words. He was trying his best, his very best, and it was exhausting. My heart broke. My baby boy, sweet thing he is, was struggling under my teacher nose, and I hadn’t caught it.
Long story short, he is now hearing much more, with just a tweak of medication. He still has a hearing loss, and we will test every year to make sure it isn’t degenerative. He is learning how to deal with sounds he hadn’t heard before. (At church last night he couldn’t believe they played bells!) He begins speech therapy (I had no idea he would need that either) next week and they are excited to see his progress, as am I. And funny enough, he is now interested in learning his letters, sounds, words, etc. It all makes sense; for how can you be interested in something you never knew existed?
I bring this story up for one reason. We are not perfect. Even if we have our children’s best interests at heart, we may miss something. It takes a true village to raise our children. If you do not have a village to help, find one. If your children go to daycare or summer camp, get to know their counselors. Ask them questions. Find out what your children are doing, and how they are doing. Talk to your children’s teachers next year. Get to know them, because they see your children more often than you do! And listen, even when you don’t want to. In a world that is so negative right now, I feel strongly that we need to support, build, and nurture each other and our tiny humans in order to make them the best they can be.