Sunday, March 6, 2011

"Mom, what is on her head?"

“Don’t stare, honey.” “Sssshh!” “Let’s not be rude.” These are all comments that I can expect to overhear on an average day when we are out with Sophie. Take today for example – we were out grocery shopping and Sophie was sitting in the front of the cart eating Cheerios, smiling, and blowing raspberries. A little girl across the aisle noticed her and said what a cute baby she is. Sophie started waving as the little girl got closer and passed by, but then the girl noticed her CIs. “Mom, what is on her head?” “I don’t know, sweetie. Please don’t stare, though.”
How am I supposed to handle situations like this? It doesn’t necessarily bother me, but I am just uncertain about how to go about it. The truth is, I have to set a good example for Sophie. I have to teach her how to deal with these situations. Although she is still very young, it won’t be long until she will start to notice the stares and whispers. Lowering my head and pretending not to notice will not teach her to have dignity and grace. I have to show her that she has nothing to be ashamed of and that she needs to be proud of who she is. How do I do that? It’s hard enough sometimes to be a good parent and always do what is best for her. I worry about doing everything right to begin with and now I have this extra worry, an additional parental duty. Honestly, I understand that most people do not even know what a CI is and have never been exposed to this technology. I would love to enlighten them and explain what is on Sophie’s head and how everything works. But am I supposed to run them down and say, “I’m sorry, but I saw you staring at my daughter and whispering about what is on her head…”? Very awkward, right? I guess it may not be ideal, but it is definitely necessary.
I also have another idea of how to handle these situations, thanks to Lucas' Mommy! She created a card to hand out to people when they notice hers son's CIs. I've comtemplated creating some for Sophie, kind-of like this. I think handing out these cards when I notice people staring and whispering will be less awkward than me confronting them. ;) We'll see, I guess.
The thing is, even if I am successful and able to teach Sophie to have pride in her CIs, the thought of her being out in the world without my protection makes me cringe. Can I always be there, right at her side? Ready to fight away the rude comments, stares, and whispers? No, I can’t. And I know by the time Sophie reaches that age, she probably won’t want me to be there anyway. I will just have to do the best I can to make sure she is equipped with the tools needed to handle the ups and downs of life. Like any other mom has to do, just with an extra responsibility.


  1. Unfortunately there are still people who don't know how to address the unfamiliar. Education about CIs is very much needed.
    The cards would be a wonderful idea.

  2. When kids notice Lily's CIs and ask about them, I just tell them they help her to be able to hear. When parents apologize, I tell them not to worry about it...asking is the only way they will learn. It hasn't really bothered me so much yet. The only thing that has really bothered me is when Lily was really tiny and wearing hearing aids. Someone at my grandmother's church said, "What is THAT on her ears?" Let me know how it goes with the cards. Sounds like a great idea!

  3. Early on, before Allison's hair was long enough to cover her CI, I took her with me to the grocery store, the cashier noticed and asked what was on her head, I explained to her and her comment to me was "how sad" I told her don't be sad for Allison, be happy that there is the technology to help my deaf daughter hear and talk, boy did that shut her up fast.
    Most of the time when I saw people staring or whispering and pointing, I would tell them what they are. I don't think we have to chase people down,but if the opportunity arises, talk openly and honestly about them, take pride in the fact that your daughter can hear and talk. Most people will be thrilled that they learned something new.

  4. I've been wanting to order the cards too, they're such a great idea. I tell kids who ask that they're Aiden's "magic ears" because his ears don't work like theirs do, that without his magic ears, he can't hear at all. The worse though is when adults stare and don't stop. I'd rather they ask questions and strike up a conversation than stare. I need to get the nerve to walk right up to them and educate them. I understand, but seriously, look once, maybe twice, but then go on about your business if you're not going to ask a question.

  5. Sorry, I'm a little behind on my blog reading... I love Sophie updates though! I'm so glad you found my cards helpful! It's still tough for me, and I cry when I see/hear kids ask about it. I try to pull myself together and give a good answer, but it really pains me. I think it gets easier with time, but I guess the question is just how much?!?