It was always non-negotiable for me. Feeling the gravity, ensuring the wiring of pathways for my little person’s hearing and language would occur. It required wearing the devices, he received at 3-months-old, during all waking hours. I saw no other option.
Next, came the implant. And keeping that cumbersome, awkward piece of equipment strapped to a toddler~who had pliable, squishy ears ~was easier said than done. Literally keeping the thing attached had its own set of challenges.
Our MacGyver skills were put to the test. It wasn’t like we could just Google it. (Yep. We are that old.)
We rigged up a series of contraptions: from Huggies, plastic tubing, toupee tape, ear molds. We tried it all. My hubs became an expert in the art of implant Jerry-rigging. I developed a set of eagle eyes. And still.
Those little suckers would go flying a billion times a day. Camaflouged in the bottom of toy boxes; Buried beneath stacks of pillows; Submerged in the sandbox. Even dangling from a bush in the gorilla cage (true story). They would fall or be thrown off, and the boy would just carry on, now in silence… Leaving them behind in his wake.
However; as frustrating and exhausting as that was, it wasn’t the How to keep them on that was gut-wrenching. The Why to keep them on was the cause of the genuine angst. And, our not-yet-two-year-old didn’t understand. Or care.
Unwavering, the devices would go on, and we would begin the bath of language. He’d pull them off. We would put them: Right. Back. On. Happy ear dances were involved; it became a parenting style of sorts. I grew sick of my own voice.
“I hear that. I hear a bird. The bird goes tweet, tweet!”
The theory was to assign meaning to each sound, noise, word, then acknowledge and narrate it, often in song and other forms of silly sound effects. Chew, chew. Vroom, vroom. I hear this. I hear that.
We became acutely aware of the sounds that fill a hearing person’s everyday world, and there was an overwhelming desire to make sure our son didn’t miss a thing. Part of that entailed making sure the devices stayed on.
The car was a tricky scenario. I couldn’t keep my eyes on him, yet I didn’t want him to miss the opportunity to listen to music, to sing, to hear, as I pointed out things along the way. Inevitably, a device would end up wedged between a seat or worse, in his mouth.
Then, one day, it changed. Riding along, like so many times prior, the external magnet of his device came off his head. Once the outer part was no longer connected to the internal~Silence.
It dangled from his head, pushing against the car seat. Usually, this was the point that triggered the green light to send it soaring across the car. Stuck or lost… who knows where. My heart would sink.
But this time, as I watched in the rearview mirror, rolling up to a red light…
His chubby, little hands reconnected it to his head. His eyes lit up like saucers. He pulled the magnet off again.
And then immediately reconnected it. Smiling. Ear to ear.
“Yes. Magic ear. You hear it!” I shouted. Nursery rhymes blaring in surround sound. The lights were on!
It didn’t mean there weren’t many more scavenger hunts for lost devices throughout the house, car, playground. We had our fair share of epic-level toddler tantrums, resulting in devices being pitched, airborne across the room.
Only, my new-listener was now associating his implant with access to sound. We were making progress and starting to see the rainbow through the clouds.