A child who learns to compensate for two years (pre-hearing aids) with a less-than-turbo-charged sense of sound is, in my experience, a clever and often cunning creature. I offer two common examples of said cunning.
The first happened at a children’s birthday party. Our best friends had arranged for a jumping castle in the backyard of the family’s holiday house and I have never seen a happier bunch of kids playing together.
Amelia was busting out of her skin with delight. Early in the day she came over to me and put something in the pocket of my skirt and ran back to the castle. I absent-mindedly reached down and found her hearing aids tucked safely there.
I thought it was so damn cool the way Amelia did that – she didn’t throw them onto the grass or ‘lose’ them somewhere inside the castle – instead, she removed her aids with care and deliberately placed them in my custody. Amelia is never short on surprises.
For a few hours, she lost herself in the abandon of seriously good play. It really was a superb jumping castle, with four walls, little cul-de-sacs and a big slide. Much later we decided to head home so I went over to sign to Amelia in Auslan that it was time to go.
She spotted me trying to catch her eye, so she turned her back. I walked around the castle enclosure to gain a better vantage point, but she dodged me and my signing hands. Then my clever little monkey moved to the far corner of the castle and faced the wall. Amelia did not agree that it was time to go.
What a conundrum. Without her aids, she couldn’t hear me, and if I couldn’t persuade her to look at me, she couldn’t (well, wouldn’t) read my signs either. Amelia must also have understood that it would take some physical effort on the part of tired adults to climb into the castle to drag her out. If we were engaged in a game of poker, she was holding all of the cards (as well as being a terrible cheat).
Though least favoured, the drag-and-run approach was the only thing that eventually worked. It was all so knowing and very, very funny.
On another occasion, Amelia was not so cautious about the location of her hearing aids. It was early evening at home and I suddenly noticed that she wasn’t wearing them. It is easy to tell because Amelia stops responding to voices and sort of drifts off into her own world. And she really likes it there.
In Auslan, I asked: “Your aids, Amelia, where did you put them?” She ‘busied’ herself with a book in front of her and did not answer, but I could tell from her facial expression (with its shadow of impudence), and from her body language (shoulders turning away, head tilting down), that it was all a wilful charade.
Again, Amelia refused to look at me squarely, to respond to my oft-repeated question – she knew full well what I wanted, but there was no way she was going to help me.
That imperious little monkey cocked her head at me (no eye contact) and flicked a hand over her shoulder, like, “Oh, you know, somewhere over there…” Great.
Luckily her aids hiss like a two-headed banshee when they are left turned on, so I could hear that they were secreted somewhere in her room (in her bedside drawer as it turns out).
Amelia skipped off with a beatific smile to busy herself elsewhere. Mini-crisis averted, my husband and I laughed and laughed at her artful, calculating ways, so much a part of her strong personality.
Frustrating, yes, but my god she’s entertaining.