I seem to have jumped ahead with the story of my surgery, let me backtrack to Kindergarten, when my hearing loss was first discovered. Specifically, my Kindergarten teacher’s reaction.
I could title this: how not to treat a child with a hearing loss.
I could also title this: I just registered my son for Kindergarten, may he have a better year than I did.
I already mentioned how I failed a hearing test in Kindergarten (Part 1). What I haven’t mentioned was my teacher’s reaction. After my mother received the letter informing her I had failed, she called to notify my teacher. Said teacher thanked my mother for her call.
Said teacher also went back to class and whispered behind my head. Whispered. Nice, huh? I heard her. I’m not deaf. I’m hard of hearing. In the right conditions I can hear whispering. She called my mother back and told her: “Your daughter hears perfectly fine, she’s just not listening.”
(I’m pausing here to prevent myself from typing something I would later regret.)
I don’t have many memories of Kindergarten. I do know that I learned one of my hearing loss survival skills that year: when you can’t hear, look at your neighbor’s paper. Yes, in some cases that’s called cheating. In other cases that’s called survival. Regardless I needed this skill at the age of six.
In this teacher’s defense, she had no clue how to teach a child with a hearing loss. She liked to have students sit under their desks after recess and read a quiet story to calm us down. A story I wouldn’t be able to hear. Needless to say, it wouldn’t have calmed me down.
If my friend whispered to me, I would whisper back. Only my version of whispering was louder than others. Guess who got caught?
I was shy kid and my experiences in kindergarten did not help. My teacher did not expect me to go on to be successful. Who does that to a young child? I look at my son and if someone were to say that about him at this age I’d be livid. He’s five. The world is his oyster. Five or six is much too young to have these types of issues.
But those of us who are different become ripe targets at any age. I’d like to say this teacher taught me to be stronger. But she didn’t. That came from inside. From others who believed in me. Who didn’t make me feel less than for not hearing correctly.
I’m fortunate that this was the only teacher to give me a bad experience due to my hearing loss. Very fortunate. I’ll never know how many of my insecurities can be traced back to this period of my life. I will say this: I view 95% of my experiences with hearing loss as positive. As experiences that have helped me become the adult I am now, the adult I want to be. This is part of the 5%.