Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I landed on planet Italy eleven years ago on June 16, 1997;Jordan was 10 months old at the time. I didn't speak a word of Italian, well...aside from a couple of bad words. One and a half months later, my husband, mother-in-law and I were in an audiologist's office learning that Jordan had a profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss (I learned how to say that in English on Ci Circle). He was deaf and the doctor was telling me this in Italian. When the audiologist realized that I didn't understand a word she was saying, she began explaining my child's hearing loss to my Italian mother-in-law. I EXPLODED!!!!!!! I asked my husband to explain to the doctor that I was the mother and she would need to talk to me about my son. To make matters worse, she then began calling me "Dear" this and "Dear" that, but in the end she took the time to answer all of my questions and I managed to leave the office satisfied that she had Jordan's needs identified.
The irony of this Tuscan-American deaf experience is that I can understand in a small way how frustrating it is not to be able to communicate, how irritating it is when someone doesn't think you're capable of understanding a concept because you don't speak their language, and worst of all, not having a voice to express your thoughts. My entire life, my parents have said, "Speak up for yourself!" "Speak up for what you believe!" And I have never been one to be silent. Above all, I did not want my son to feel invisible, be ignored or pitied ever in his lifetime. We chose to attempt to teach Jordan to speak and if that didn't work we would then learn sign language. Like many other parents, we were told not to use sign language as he would have relied on that to communicate as opposed to the spoken word, thereby retarding his process of language acquisition.
Because we lived in Italy, we learned to speak Italian, having also been told that English on top of Italian would have been too confusing for him. However, there was one phrase that I insisted he say in English, "I love you, Mamma." (I must have said those words to him 150 times a day, those were his first words in English) "Ti voglio bene, Mamma!" the Italian version, just doesn't work for me.
The hearing aids worked well for Jordan, but not well enough and in third grade he was falling way behind his peers socially. We then made the decision that changed our lives, we opted for the cochlear implant. The cochlear implant has helped Jordan to find his voice...now we have another problem, that voice has been using a few too many swear words of late! When I told him I was going to wash his mouth out with soap (too bad there aren't any Irish Spring soap bars here in Italy, we use bodywash) if he didn't stop swearing, his response was, "Mom, I'm not a little kid anymore, I'm a guy, I go to Middle School!" He then proceeded to correct my Italian, apparently I had used the wrong verb tense! Gotta love that...