Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Gifts

My son is deaf. If there are any reminders, it's this holiday season. It seems so weird to me as I look back on this journey. It's only been 8 1/2 months, but still , it seems like so much longer. I look back and think, I spent the first months of his life accepting he's deaf, and the other half so far, doing everything in my power preparing him to learn to listen.

I used to look at Aiden and cry about the fact that he was deaf, I don't too much anymore, I haven't in awhile. I have my days, but they truly are very far and few in between. I have tried very hard to not let his deafness define him or how we treat him. To an extent anyway. It's so hard to explain. I understand why parents are sad about their children not hearing the beautiful sounds of the holidays. I get it. I understand it. Yet, it doesn't upset me that Aiden can't hear these wonderful sounds. I have faith that next year he will. I'm not downplaying anybodies feelings what-so-ever, and in fact, I feel guilty for not feeling the same and wonder why I am not upset about it. When Aiden's smiling though, I'm smiling. Which truly is almost all the time.

The thing that has gotten me though is Christmas shopping for him. It seems like all toys today make some sort of noise and perform some sort of light show. I always show Aiden the different toys when we're shopping, to see how he reacts ... to try the toy out. His favorite - Elmo. He loves Elmo. I was in Target a few weeks ago and saw Elmo. Aiden's oldest brother LOVED Elmo, so the first thing I did was run over and press Elmo's foot to see what Elmo did and hear the red little monster laugh. I didn't think twice that Aiden couldn't "hear" Elmo say to him "BIG KISS, Elmo loves you!"

As Aiden watched Elmo, his laughter rang through my ears and melted my heart. I didn't think twice at THAT moment, that Aiden didn't hear a dang thing. So I kept pressing Elmo's foot, over and over and over again, to hear Elmo talk and move, but really, just to see the look of amazement on my baby's face. Hearing Aiden laugh was all that mattered. I didn't even think of him NOT hearing Elmo until later as I was telling a friend the story ...

"You should've seen Aiden when I played Elmo for him at Target!"

".... ummm ... well, oh yeah, well, he was probably just excited about the way Elmo moved."

Since then, I find myself looking at every toy I pick up for Aiden and asking:

"What language opportunity will this provide for my baby?"
"How can I use this toy at home to provide Aiden a good listening environment?"
"Will he truly hear this toy, or will the lights just entice him?"

All the toys I have been picking out, turn out to be "therapy toys". Everything I look at, I think of how it will benefit his "learning to listen". I find myself defining his deafness through his Christmas list. I have been looking for toys that don't light up, but just make sound, because I want to know his reaction is from the sounds and not the lights or movement. I find myself picking out only toys that have some connection with the "learning to listen" sounds. I find myself picking out toys not for my baby, but my "deaf baby's therapy program" and for me and how I can use the toy to help him. I find myself not enjoying what I think need to be on his Christmas list.

And I have to stop.

Aiden is 8 months old ... 9 months at Christmas. Aiden has a very strong personality, whose smile lights up the room. Aiden is VERY social, loves all kinds of interaction, loves to eat, loves babbling, and loves all kinds of toys among every other thing that isn't a toy, yet he feels should be in his toy box. Aiden is full of life. Yes, he is deaf. Yes we are working VERY hard with him to hear and speak and we take every opportunity to teach him to listen.

My boy, at 8 months, has made his mommy take a step back, once again, and realize, he is so much more than just his ears. He is Aiden, my precious baby boy. He turns everything into a learning opportunity, i.e. the computer cable cords:

"no-no, don't PULL it OUT", "smooth", "let's plug it back INTO the computer"

ANY present we give him at Christmas, will become not only a learning to listen opportunity, but even more importantly, a fun time of smiles and laughter and memories as we watch him explore and enjoy every moment of his wonderful world!

3 comments:

leahlefler said...

We've loosen up this Christmas with the whole "therapy toy" thing, too. Last Christmas (Nolan was 4 months) and his birthday were filled with toys meant for listening. Now we're relaxing about it and have realized almost all toys are great listening opportunities! Though I do want to get some bubbles to work on "pop!" so that we can get a /p/ sound out of him, lol.

Eileen said...

What a lovely kids he is!! May God bless him!!

Julie said...

Tammy,

Laughing with you about the toys :0)

The hardest thing we've had to deal with is toys that Tate is interested in, like the "Leap Pad", that are a great learning toy, but make all kinds of extra noises - which make it hard to hear the information. Ugh.

YOU ARE DOING GREAT!

Julie