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Monday, March 25, 2013

Coping...

I have never, could never and would never claim to be the perfect parent (as you continue to read, you will see just why), but because parenting is such an enormous part of my life, I thought I would take a moment to share with you all a parenting roadblock or trial that I've encountered recently...

Each child is so vastly different from the next, and I have learned that they in turn need to be cared for and nurtured differently also.  I have four children.  My oldest son, who is 7, is very introverted.  He is quiet and shy, but very smart.  He won't ever ask for help from a teacher because he is too timid, and so he in turn has to get creative and figure things out on his own if he doesn't understand something.  This has been taken to the extreme lately, and I'll tell you how...

I was beginning to get frustrated at how little this oldest son of mine shares with me.  I, as a mother, want my children to feel that they can come to me about anything in the world, and my heart aches when they, for whatever reason, don't share their feelings and concerns with me.  I also was observing that he not only was acting shy towards others, but had begun flat out ignoring people, which I was finding quite rude.  It was embarrassing when someone would come right up to him and say "And how are you today?", and he would walk away from them without so much as one word.  I thought he was beginning to get a bit of an attitude when this ignoring seemed to become a coping mechanism of his and he was rarely ever answering me, unless I went right up to him, put my hands on his shoulders, and spoke very loudly.  One day, while doing just this, amid my frustration, a clear thought came into my mind: "My child can't hear me".  I feel strongly that this was my Heavenly Father intervening in his behalf, because I hadn't noticed all the warning signs of his hearing loss myself.  I have been trying ever since this day to get over the guilt I have felt from not noticing the problem earlier, as it had been going on for so long and there had been so many warning signs.  These are the things I began to notice, or had noticed, but had not connected the dots:

-repeated uses of the word "what" (lots of kids say "what" right?)
-pale skin
-red eyes
-eczema
-rashes
-constant and persistent headaches

The latter 5 symptoms I had been relating to an unknown allergy which I had been trying to pinpoint, but the hearing loss had completely gone over my head.  I immediately made an appointment for a hearing exam, as well as an allergist (although in my mind I still had not connected the two).  I was seeing these as separate problems that needed addressing.

When the hearing specialist had finished doing the exam on my son, she confirmed what I now already suspected, he had "significant hearing loss in both ears".  Wow, what a blow!  That poor boy had been coping with this for who knows how long (and honestly, I'm afraid it was longer than I would like to admit) and I hadn't even realized it!  I went back in my mind and began thinking of all the times I had gotten after him for "rudely" ignoring someone or the times I had given him consequences for not listening when I'd asked him to do something.  These occurrences had been more numerous than I could count lately, and I was riddled with guilt as a mother.  I felt I had failed my son.

So, we went back to the doctor for further instruction and she turned and asked my sweet boy "So how are you feeling?", to which he continued to look down and did not respond.  I watched this happen and felt numb as a voice from within me somewhere said for the very first time "I don't think he heard you".  She was surprised by this and repeated her question in a much louder voice.  To this, he looked up pleasantly, smiled, and responded to what she had asked him.  Wow!  Really?  How did I not notice this before???

Looking back I see that it wasn't just me.  My husband hadn't noticed either, until we discussed it and it made sense.  His teachers hadn't noticed, and neither had his neighbours or friends.  Even his piano teacher, who is always telling me how incredibly bright he is, hadn't noticed a thing.  One would think that musical skills would be affected by hearing loss...but then again, Beethoven was deaf right ;)

What a handsome boy!
He lost his two front teeth just before Christmas.

I have since spoken to all of these people to inform them of the new challenge ahead and have decided, true to his nature, that he has acquired some coping mechanisms that have helped him disguise this from us all (although I'm sure this wasn't his intent, of course).  I now notice he often moves to stand in front of me when I'm speaking to him, and looks at my mouth, so I suspect he has learned (at least to some degree) to read lips a little bit.  He uses resources around him to understand.  He's told me that because he often doesn't hear what the teacher says at school, he constantly watches everyone around him and mimics whatever it is they're doing.  He made it a point to also tell me that he's still usually the fastest one done though, which he was quite proud of, and which made me smile.

From here, we are just waiting.  We are waiting to find out what is causing this setback, and my strong suspicion is that it is allergy related.  Because we don't see a hearing specialist until mid-May, I have been doing my own research and trying to decide what approach is best to take at this point.  I have read a lot about mucus build up in the ears due to congestion, and so my first step is to remove dairy from his diet.  In the past he has gone off wheat, to see if some of his allergy symptoms would dissipate, but now knowing that his hearing is being affected, I've decided that dairy is our next step, as it is supposedly the number one cause of mucus buildup in our bodies.  We've been at it for just over a week now (I'm doing it with him to be supportive) and I've got to say I love doing things like this.  I love learning how to make and try new things, how to substitute ingredients in recipes, and especially, I love seeing the results that come from doing so.  The biggest payoff so far has been when yesterday my sweet boy turned to his Dad and said "I think my ears are doing better Dad.  I think it's working.  I'm pretty sure I can hear better."  Although from all my reading, it's probably much too early for any major results, this was such a rewarding thing to hear!

2 comments:

  1. Oh Lise-Anne!!! I hope everything works out for him!!! Kids are so amazingly resilient! don't let the guilt get to you too badly- we all miss things :)

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  2. Thanks Kristin! I'm very good at feeling guilty, it's one of my talents ;)
    It's nice to know I'm not the only one who misses things!

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