photo credit: Ear via photopin (license)

The boy failed his hearing screening at school. Remember those? It's where you and your classmates line up outside of the nurse's office and then put on a pair of lice-infested earphones just so you can listen to a bunch of muted beeps while raising your hand, up down, up down, like Jerry Lewis on speed? It was recommended that I take Liam to get a 'real' test done at a 'real' doctor's office for a price of $50. It's not the money I care about, it's the whole idea of having to take him when I know this is all the result of a mere head cold. Okay, it's a little bit about the money.

Anyway, we go and I'm praying hard that his ears are fine, because we've already been through this before. The whole burrito: hearing test after hearing test, ear tubes, recovery, can't get water in his ears and then three layers of scalp builds up because the kid can't wash his wild monkey fringe. When he finally does wash it, a million fleas are jumping off flakes. Okay, no fleas, but you should have seen the dandruff that kid built up! The thought of going through all that again is no bueno.

But as a mother, you know. You have to.

Not sure if you've ever been to a real ear doctor before, but there are some scary a$$ tools in the examination room. Skinny metal thingys and sharp pokey objects, syringes, priers and drills, and then the dreaded poster of the inside of some poor kid's bursting cochlea. It's frightening! I have PTSD now. But of course as the parental unit I have to be the one to say, oh, there's nothing to worry about, the doctor won't use any of those instruments on you (looks frantically for cotton balls to stick in child's ears).

When the doctor comes in spouting light chatter and geniality, and tells Liam to lean back for the exam, I take stock of all the work I've done over the years. The nice clothes that fit and don't have any holes, the brand new pair of sneakers, the fillings and capped teeth because he was too wiggly to brush when little, the voids because the baby teeth didn't come out on their own and the dentist recommended they get pulled, the eyeglasses that make him look like Harry Potter, and the nice hair cut that's already growing out two days later. If I wasn't around, who would do all of this? I'm the silent worker, the unpaid, yet always ready for action myriad. My work is never finished, and yet I must carry on to the end. Kids would walk around looking like a mini-Sasquatch, if not for their mother.

All turns out well: his hearing is fine. It was just the cold. But then I knew that. I'd already done a test in the car, windows open, radio at full blast. From the back seat Liam listened for me to whisper a certain color, or a food item, or the name of his favorite game character. He heard each and repeated all. It's similar to the mommy temperature test: a hug, or a kiss on the forehead. Never fails.

Someone told me recently that their school kept sending their child home because of a fever, but the child wasn't actually sick. Turns out, it was the school thermostat. It needed fixing. A group of parents formed a coup to get it fixed.

That solved the problem.


  1. Although, at age 65, I am somewhat older than your boy, I had 2 visits to an ENT specialist this past summer and was likewise intimidated by clinical equipment. Turns out I do have considerable upper-frequency hearing loss which has run to tinnitus. Poor me. However, as a child I had very keen ears and was asked by visiting audiology nurses how I did so well on the hearing tests. I always replied that it was because I studied very hard for them. My humor was not appreciated. Perhaps your son can use that line to better advantage. So glad everything worked out in his favor.

    1. Sorry you're having problems with your hearing, Geo. That's no fun, and especially having to go into those offices with all those scary instruments. I guess it's best to look at it as, they are instruments of healing—in the long run. Hope things get better.

  2. I once had to accompany my ageing mother in law to a hearing specialist; she was as deaf as a post. The doctor made her remove her hearing aid, then spoke to her in whispers; she heard every word. Good to hear that Liam is OK.

    1. How weird! I can only guess that the louder someone speaks, the more distorted it becomes for her?

  3. My third child, at age three, did not pass her hearing test at the nursery school where I worked. I took her to the EMT and was shocked that she had over 50% hearing loss in both ears. I was in shock as I never noticed anything wrong with her. However, all the signs were there, but I let them go by me as I thought she was so perfect. She used to sing in a language all her own and often her older siblings would answer for her. For fifteen years we were back and forth to the doctor's office, had procedure after procedure and she had to wear specially made ear plugs for showers or swimming. She had language problems that she overcame and everything is fine today. She, though, can't stand loud noises and often when visiting me, turns down the TV because I have it turned up because my hearing is now impaired.

    1. Oh Molly, I'm sure you were shocked and felt guilty, and I know that feeling. Good thing you found out when you did and were able to get her the help she needed. Tain't easy being a parent!

  4. Our youngest daughter had tubes twice, and finally grew up. She talks louder than normal, even those she is 35.
    It is a growth thing, I think. That and allergies.
    The Mommy thing is the most accurate test of all.


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