Since having Danny, strangely enough, I’m much more aware of folks I see with cochlear implants “in the wild.” I also find that I run into a lot of deaf people (particularly adults) who I wouldn’t have otherwise known were deaf, but because Danny is rather obviously deaf, they strike up a conversation.
Often, these are very positive experiences for me, and not even always related to cochlear implants. There was a lady with a hearing loss – no amplification, but judging from her speech, probably about a moderate loss – who was our cashier, and she asked us what school he attended and shared with us that she was a CID grad herself. There was a teenage boy in the grocery store who we first saw running off to get something on his own, then later found with his mom. I asked his mom how long he’d been implanted, and we stood there talking for a few minutes about when he got his first and second implants, how he had “other stuff going on” (sound familiar?), and how getting him implants was the best thing she’d ever done even if he was “slower” to catch on – because he still did, mainstreamed after third grade, and is doing well.
I guess it’s just nice, sometimes, to see what we have a shot at. Yes, Danny’s not going to be the usual deaf teen or deaf adult, but especially the boy we met shows that even then, it’s fabulous. He understood well, listened great, and his mom could give him oral suggestions or comments without either of them looking at each other – and he’d get it.
I’m a little hesitant to share this last one, but I will, because it’s been strongly on my mind since it happened this morning. We were out shopping, and coming around a corner, I was waved at by a man who smiled and handed me a little orange card. The card explained that he was a deaf adult, and that he was selling these little orange cards for $2 each to try to make a living; the card was short, but basically implied that because he was deaf, he couldn’t have a job. I smiled politely and declined, he thanked me, and we parted ways. For the rest of the trip, I couldn’t stop thinking about him, and about Danny.
Obviously, I don’t know his circumstances. He could have lost a job due to the economy, he could be one of millions who are having trouble finding a job right now – but it struck me to the core to see this man trying to get charity from people because he was deaf. As a mother, one of my first reactions was, I hope Danny never, ever does anything like that. I hope he never has to. I hope he never struggles with being deaf. I hope he never uses it as a crutch to keep from working (because I have seen many deaf adults successful with jobs and careers, from cashiers to librarians). I hope he never uses his deafness as an excuse, or to garner sympathy.
I hope he always has good support in place, so if he is down on his luck, he has a more reliable way to get back on his feet.
I hope being deaf never keeps him from accomplishing anything.
I have so many hopes for this little guy of ours.