“But you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone. And you don’t know what it’s like to feel so low. And every time you smile I glow. You don’t even know…know. You don’t even know.”
~”A Little Bit Longer” by the Jonas Brothers (Yes a little throwback)
“Why do you have to wear that?”
“I noticed you wear a hearing aid. Were you born….”
“She will need to wear a hearing aid in her left ear and take speech therapy as she begins school,” the doctor told my mother the summer before I started kindergarten. I don’t remember this exchange, nor the early years of my hearing and school, but what I do know is that from the moment I was born there was something different about me. When I was born I was diagnosed with the disease Cytomegalovirus or CMV for short. So with the doctors orders I began my first year of school at Sneed Elementary in Houston with a child-sized Hearing Aid (HA). My hearing was only a mild lost, but it was still a loss. My right ear was still at a 100% at the time. As I mentioned already I barely remember going to speech therapy as a kid, but I can see the hallways in my head. Brick walkways as I was taken to a special room meant for students like me.
As we moved around Houston I continued to take this class to work on my speech. I didn’t know the reasoning for it as a kid, I just knew that I needed something that other kids didn’t. My fourth elementary school, Taylor Ray Elementary, was where I vividly remember my hearing really beginning to take hold of me. My mom and I moved to Rosenberg to live with my grandparents following my parents divorce. I was enrolled at Taylor Ray so that I would be going to school with my cousin Brandon. Of course when we moved here my mom told the teachers that I wore a Hearing Aid and would need to be near the front of the class, as well as, attend speech therapy classes. I remember attending maybe 4 classes of speech therapy before the speech therapist spoke with my mom. They celebrated my progress over the last 5 years, and came to the conclusion that I didn’t need speech therapy anymore. I remember that my last class was where we were reviewing the letter R.
Fantastic! I didn’t have to go to this special class anymore, but I still had my hearing aid that I hid behind my puffy triangle looking hair. The ear piece was clear at the time, so it wasn’t like someone would have immediately noticed, but I didn’t want to show it off. As I finished out my elementary years at Taylor Ray I faced a lot of bullying. I was called a giraffe, had friends literally were pushed away from me, and I was left out because I didn’t belong with my classmates who had all grown up together. So I made a decision at the end of 5th grade, I was going to hide my hearing aid. By hide I meant I wasn’t going to wear it. My 10 year old self was tired of feeling excluded and bullied because I was different from the rest of the class. I didn’t want my classmates to accidentally notice my hearing aid and have another reason to pick on me.
Over the course of the next four years I lied to those around me. I tried to make myself seem like the average American pre-teen. At first holding up the lie by wearing my HA to the doctors and telling them that I was indeed wearing it was easy. I was also able to persuade my teachers to let me sit in the middle or back of the room. I did what I could to make sure that I wouldn’t stand out so much from my peers. During that time I was still being bullied and was fighting an uphill battle to get my classmates to like me. The feat wasn’t easy. I was straightening my hair (as well as perming) to receive approval from my classmates. I was helping classmates with their work in order for them to approve of me. I wanted to be like them with everything in my being, but then God.
Part two will be up tomorrow. Hope you enjoyed part one! Leave a comment below or like the piece! Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for the next installment!