There are some things that we as persons, born on this planet, have no control over. Our own birth defects are included in that scenario. While there are those who believe that we ourselves choose what obstacles we must face and overcome in this life, prior to our earthly birth, I am not one who buys that. I did not choose to be born deaf.
Be that what it may, I was entered this world with a 70% hearing loss in both ears. It didn’t take my Mother long to recognize my hearing deficiency. She had been born a hearing impaired person too. My Mother determined that her child would not hide his deficiency, as she had been allowed to do.
Mom, as a child, had many siblings. Most of her sisters were older than she so hers were hand-me-down clothes. Poor, nearly deaf, she had taken a back seat in classrooms in an effort to not call attention to herself and her perceived inadequacies. Always, when called upon by a teacher, Mother would say, “I don’t know…” As she later told me, “The alternative answer would have been even more humiliating, I didn’t hear!”
I would never be allowed to make such an unwise determination. Every year, the first day of grammar school, Mother would march me before the teachers and tell them, in no uncertain terms, “This boy can not hear. I want him in a front desk, and I don’t want him moved around the room!”
As any otherwise normal kid would, I hated it. I asked her, “Why do you have to make such a big thing about this? I hear alright,” I insisted.
“Of course you do,” was her reply. “Because, I love you, I want you to hear what your teachers say and not have the articulation problems that I’ve had learning to form your own words correctly.
I didn’t really comprehend, until later, the significance of the second part of Mother’s answer. But yeah, I knew that she did love me. Even though I often resented the seating restriction, I was ever to be found occupying a front desk.
As a direct result of my “Pushy Mother’s intervention,” I was not distracted by classroom conversations which were not part of the curriculum. I couldn’t get away with anything because the teachers would catch me. And, I learned to properly pronounce most words because I “Heard” them. Mother’s vocabulary was excellent, her speech clear, as she had invested many childhood hours in a dictionary, looking up words that she felt she might need with emphasis on pronunciation. In grade school, I was spared that responsibility which I would not have taken upon myself anyway.
It wasn’t until high school that I learned to be stupid in my selection of where to sit. I never even considered that perhaps misunderstanding assignments, or not hearing what instructors actually said, had something to do with how hard I had to struggle.
Later, I was witness to what might have happened to me if not for having a “Pushy Mom.” A cousin inherited the same type of hearing loss I was born with. His mother didn’t bother to be pushy on this issue. He was shuffled along through school and treated like someone with a learning impairment. No wonder, for when he spoke he sounded retarded.
For a while, as an adult, I sold hearing aids. When I checked my cousin’s hearing, it was virtually identical to my own. Only then, did I fully comprehend and appreciate the wonderful gift my mother had given me by being “Pushy.”
If you have a child that doesn’t have excellent hearing, consider becoming a “Pushy Parent,” if only on this one issue. It is one thing that you can do for your child ~ on this planet ~ to level the playing field while he or she is too young to appreciate it.