I woke up panting in bed this morning, having just had a bad dream. I dreamt that my son Matthew was running around screaming and in panic because he couldn't find me, while I was screaming behind him trying to catch up and calling his name, but he just couldn't hear me. When I finally caught up to him, we were both out of breath and both crying our eyes out, frustrated and frightened at the same time.
Why did I have this dream, you ask?
I'm not a dream expert, so you may not want to come to me when you want your dreams interpreted, but I know exactly why I had this particular dream.
See, we found out that my son has moderate hearing loss and needs hearing aids just before he started his first year of primary school. We went through a number of doctors and a gazillion tests, and at the end of the day, he still needed hearing aids so we got them for him. I was unfortunately in Paris the day we actually had to come and pick them up, so I didn't see him wear them the first time around. But the minute I saw the picture that my husband sent to me on my BlackBerry, I'll be honest with you, I burst into tears.
I have been having so many mixed feelings about this whole situation. On one hand, yes, I want him to be able to hear and speak like any other kid his age. I want him to be able to understand when we talk to him without me having to speak loudly and slowly to his face. I want to be able to hug him from behind and whisper "I love you" in his hear without him having to turn around and look at me like I was just trying to tickle his ear - so if hearing aids are the answer to all that, then yeah, I figured, let's do it. But on the other hand, I just don't want him to be different either. I don't want these things attached to his ears be something that kids can tease him about.
About a week ago, when I shared this with a trusted friend - who I admire and look up to - she told me, "What's the difference with kids who have to wear glasses? It's the same, it's just that hearing aids are less common than glasses," which I thought was profound. It made me feel a heck of a lot better at the time, but now I wish more people thought that way. When I shared Matthew's situation with some other friends, they looked at me with pity and said, "We hope he'll be OK with wearing that ugly thing." (Note to self: this very much proves the theory that what kinds of friends you hang out with truly does matter. You hang with the negative, you think negatively. You hang with the positive, and your whole outlook on life is entirely different).
I'm not going to lie, I worry for my son.
He's a cheerful boy, always happy and smiley, and is always positive about everything. He has no reservations about going up to other kids and asking them to play, and he has gotten along wonderfully with his new classmates at school. He is very confident and I never want this to change so I certainly don't want the hearing aids to change him into the opposite of all those things. But I guess everything that comes after this is beyond what I can control. For now, what I can do is encourage him to keep being the way he is, tell him that it's alright to be different and that everyone is different one way or another, and tell him how much we love him and how great we think he is. And of course, I can pray for him, the way I pray for him every day. The rest, I guess, is up to society. I really hope kids these days are better equipped with dealing with differences, not like how they used to be when I was growing up. I hope to God that kids these days are considerate, respectful and kindhearted. Is that too much to ask?