A duty, nay, a privilege

I have a friend whose baby was born around the same time as D. Back then she didn’t have a car so when I drove into downtown to go to Whole Foods, she would go with me and stock up on the things our neighborhood stores didn’t carry. We got some healthy food and good company, our babies got a car ride and a ride in a cart.

Once on a dark winter afternoon, as we sat in traffic that inched us closer to home, she told me her son, a year older than Lei, had been diagnosed with ADHD.

I wish I remembered exactly what she said about it, but all I remember is the black sky above and the rain hitting the windshield as I sat there thinking, “That sounds just like Lei.” Continue reading

The Other Child

When you have a child with special needs that take up a lot of your time and attention, what about the other children?

I only have two children: Lei, my older child, the one with lots of appointments, therapies, quirks and challenges, and my younger child. My more or less neurotypical child, the one whose challenges are more minor. The other child. Continue reading

Breakthrough on the left

At Lei’s audiology appointment on Tuesday, the audiologist gently asked how we were doing. She listened to Lei about how she has been feeling, and thoughtfully absorbed the suggestions for programming we had come up with in our meeting with the d/hh team at school.

Finally it was time to take the plunge. I handed over the left processor and the audiologist connected it to her computer on one end and to Lei’s head on the other.  Continue reading

Hearing again and saving herself

During Lei’s days off last week, I tried having her wear her right processor again, and surprisingly she was able to hear decently through it. Over the last week the cutting-in-and-out problem seems to have resolved completely. Lei can hear again!

She still talked about being homeschooled, however, and I asked her how she planned to stay in touch with her new friends at school. “I’ll chat with them online,” she breezed.

She had it all worked out. But on Tuesday when Lei, her dad and I met at midday with the school case manager, audiologist and hearing itinerant, Lei did a 180.

“I talked with my two good friends here and they said they wouldn’t be friends with me if I quit going to Madero.” She grinned. “So I’m staying!”

Let’s hear it for positive peer pressure!  Continue reading

Is this a breakdown?

I keep wondering if this is what we’ll someday call a breakdown.

Someday maybe we will tell this story by saying that Lei kept having really hard years at school, that we kept trying new things, new interventions, new schools, but we couldn’t seem to find the right fit. And then we’ll talk about how we were so hopeful that attending her dad’s school would give her the security, academic challenges and sense of belonging she lacked. And how, just after she started there, she suffered a breakdown.  Continue reading

Bilateral failure

Back of Lei's head showing two CI headpieces.

Today Lei and I went to the implant center for integrity testing, and although there was a lot to it – some crying, some coffee, a large cookie, a whole bunch of equipment and numerous attempts to reprogram – I’ll just say that it did not go well. Lei will need surgery to replace her implants.  Continue reading

Let the tiger out: Validating my daughter’s anger

The tiger in my chest, by Elahe Bos, www.plantlovegrow.com

Last night Lei and I happened upon Elahe Bos’ blog, Plant Love Grow. We were loving the artwork and the creative approaches to social emotional development when we stumbled on The tiger in my chest, a printable story about anger that includes calming exercises to avoid losing control. As we read it, I reflected that we can’t just keep the tiger caged up all the time. So I asked Lei about her anger, and what she wants to do about it.

Continue reading

Race, racism and my white, deaf daughter

Lei and I have been talking a lot about the killing of nine African Americans in their church in Charleston, SC, on June 17, institutionalized racism, economic injustice and police brutality.

When she was eight or nine I felt she was mature enough to start learning about these issues that are such a big part of our country’s past and present, so even though it was awkward for me at first, I have tried to be as up front with her as possible about racial inequality.

Deaf or hard-of-hearing children don’t overhear. When someone mutters a racial slur, or when a disturbing story is reported on the radio, they might not make sense of it or even realize anything was said. I’m glad Lei has missed some of the ways that misinformation about race creeps into our brains before we are old enough to really think about what we’re hearing.

But I don’t want her to be uninformed, apathetic or helpless. Continue reading

Look not upon the seed, look upon the tree

When I picked the color for Lei’s first hearing aids, it was a major philosophical decision: hide or flaunt?

Did I want her to blend in or stand out? Did I hope for her to be mistaken for normal? Did I dream for her deafness to go unnoticed or celebrated?

What do you think I chose? Her first hearing aids were bright pink.

Why did I think about it so deeply? My mom.

Continue reading

Teacher Appreciation Week: Thank you, teachers!

Lei's pre-k teacher with my son at age three
Lei's pre-k teacher with my son at age three
Ms. Diane was one of those great teachers who truly understood and enthusiastically loved Lei. She continues changing lives as an early childhood teacher of the deaf. We will never forget her!

Remember your favorite teacher?

Was it one who told great stories? Or one who told you that your career as class clown could take you to the stage? Or one who sent you a hand-made card when you were sick? Maybe it was one who challenged you to think big?

Ask anyone who their favorite teacher was and why, and they will give you a name and a story—each different and completely unique.

Continue reading