I have talked to many parents about hearing loss and cochlear implants since we began our journey. I have talked to lots of people since Ciaran got his hearing aids. As a parent we only want what is best for our children. What we want most is for our children to just be children. To listen. To speak. To not be different from other kids. To fit in. One of the first concerns parents talk to me about is about how other people will treat their child. Will they be teased? Made fun of? Left out? I know I had ALL of these thoughts about Cormac's future. Would someone want to be his girlfriend? In the grand scheme of things and focusing on teaching our children to listen and speak these little questions are always in the back of my head.
Kids can be mean. Kids can tease. Kids can say hurtful things when they don't even mean to and they also say them intentionally. As I parent I am trying to teach my children to be understanding of others differences. Not everyone is the same. It's what make us unique. Some people need glasses to see some need crutches to walk others need cochlear implants or hearing aids. I want my kids to be OK with who they are just like Frank and I are proud of the little people they are and the bigger people they are becoming. We think they are perfect just the way they are. Our hope is other parents are also teaching their children to embrace their differences. To think about how they would feel if they were the child who was different.
My experience so far has been nothing but positive. We have yet to experience any teasing. We get lots of questions and my kids are not afraid to answer any question about their hearing devices. Cormac has been explaining his implants for years at this point. He says it very matter of fact "I am deaf. When the magnets are on I can hear and when they are off I can't hear." Plain and simple and easy for people big and little to understand. I realize my kids are only five. It could get worse as they get older. My hope is they continue to be the awesome kids they already are and people will realize their hearing loss in no way defines who they are as a person. It will always be a part of who they are but not what they are.
All that said, yesterday we went to pick up Ciaran's new ear molds. He picked BRIGHT green and BRIGHT blue swirls. He LOVES them. Cormac got so excited while we were there he got himself measured for a set of ear molds. He picked blue and red. (He didn't want Colin to feel left out. Ciaran's favorite color is green, Cormac blue and Colin red. Cormac thought Colin needed to be represented in the mold colors) While we were there with the unbelievably AWESOME audiologist Colin told her he wanted "fake" hearing aids because he thought they were so cool. (See, it's all in perspective...it's all how they see themselves.) Well, Colin left the office wearing giraffe print dummy hearing aids with his own set of huggies to hold them on! Obviously, he can't have molds since he has no hearing issues.
Today, they were so excited to go to school. Ciaran had his hood up so he could "surprise" his friends. I walked them to the school line today because I figure I had to explain Colin's new hearing aids to the teacher. (she thought it was adorable and got a chuckle out of it). Ciaran walked up to his best friend, Ryan, and showed him the molds. Ryan's response "whoa, dude, those are TOTALLY cool". Colin was a little shy but couldn't wait for his friends to notice his hearing aids. Little Gabby was behind him in line and she said "Colin, are those FOR REAL?? Colin said " no, they are fake but I love them." She says "I like them too". Cormac was going on and on about how he ordered red and blue molds. It all seemed so....NORMAL.