A familiar thought crossed my mind as I was climbing the stairs at the gym today heading back to my car. They had their posters up for their classes and programs, and one of them featured swim classes with a photo of a baby being held on its back in the water. It got me thinking of swimming, which got me thinking of the boys, which got me thinking of Danny’s being deaf.
And I wondered what it’s like.
As he progresses further and further with his cochlear implants – to think, my little guy is babbling! – I find myself thinking of him as deaf-but-not. Cochlear implants do not “fix” or “heal” deaf, and he will always be deaf, but I treat him as I would a hearing child. I talk plenty, I tell him about the world and how we fit into it, I wait with baited breath for him to finally make some big leaps. (Any time now, OK kid? Our IFSP is like a month away, and I know you can go 4 for 4 on your outcomes.)
I wonder what it’s like to be him, what it’s like to hear and then to not. What does he think when the sound turns off? What is it like going swimming or playing on slides, seeing the world go on around you but not hearing it, when you know there should be sound? When he’s walking and he trips and falls, the fall usually bumps his head pieces off and turns off the sound…what does he think of that?
Basically, what is going through that head of his?
I can’t imagine it. For all I try, for all I wonder, I honestly can’t. Growing up, I remember contemplating it at one point. I don’t know where the question came from, but it’s one of those things that came out of nowhere: if you had to give up one sense, what would it be? I always thought that wasn’t very telling, because really, some are obviously more than others. Smell, taste, and touch…losing them would undoubtedly suck, but it doesn’t happen often, there’s no name or awareness of them. Sight and sound – blind and deaf – if I had to choose one, I wondered, which would I choose? I couldn’t imagine being without either.
I still can’t.
In many ways, I’m in no rush to have my kids grow up, but there are times I look forward to when Danny is grown and we can have these discussions. 20 years from now, sitting down with my son and asking – what’s it really like? Of course, he’ll know nothing different, but it’s got to be an odd thing at times to have a sense turn on and off like that.
I feel the same way about not wanting Lucas to grow up too quickly, but also wanting to see into the future. I also like to talk about the 5 senses in German with my students. I always get interesting answers about which one they value most/least!
I’m guessing to him it just is. He doesn’t know things are different for other people so it’s totally normal for him.