By Jennifer Jhon
When my son was an infant, he made the cutest baby sounds, most starting with “da.”
One day, instead of crying in his crib, he wailed out a string of un-intelligible syllables, and I laughed. “He’s yelling at us,” I told my husband. “I can’t wait until he talks!”
My friends and acquaintances would smile when I talked about wanting my son to speak. “He’ll start soon, and then you won’t be able to shut him up” they all said.
That “soon” turned out to be further away than we expected.
At first, we didn’t think much of it. He used a few words: mommy, daddy, car, plane. He could identify the pictures in his bedtime stories: cat, dog, one, two, etc. So we thought his not talking might be a boy thing.
But after he turned 2, people started to comment. When I picked him up from Sunday school one day, my son said “mommy,” and a school worker who had been working with him for weeks said “Oh, he talks!”
As my son’s 3rd birthday approached, everyone was getting concerned. His preschool noted his speech and behavior issues and sent us off for testing, a lengthy process that we still have not completed.
But we made a vital discovery right away: My son had hearing loss due to a buildup of fluid in his ears.
It was good news. It explained why my son ignored most commands, and the fluid buildup was something that could be corrected.
Since we got tubes in his ears two months ago, my son’s progress has been dramatic. My husband and I have been thrown back into the “wow, look at my kid” phase that most parents experienced at age 1.
My husband asked my son a few weeks ago where his shoes were, and my son said “I don’t know.” My husband and I looked at each other and beamed. “Did you hear that!?”
We share those moments 2-3 times a week now, just amazed at what our son is able to communicate. He has even started singing in the house, which he rarely used to do.
His teacher shared her own joyful moment about a month after the surgery. “He said my name today for the first time!” she told me. “He is doing so well!”
She is right -- he really is a different kid.
We’ve gone from tense reports of time-outs and office visits to glowing reports of excellent listening skills and helpful behavior.
It is amazing what being able to hear clearly can do.
Now that my son can share what he is thinking, we have discovered that he is wildly imaginative, compassionate and creative -- things we only guessed at before.
Being able to know him on this level has been such a gift, one I think most parents take for granted.
While I feel fortunate to know him so much better now, I’m also a little sad. I have missed communicating with my son for years now. I have a lot to make up for.