Monday, October 01, 2007

Can you hear me now?

For the sake of thwarting any future therapist of hers, I have tried to keep much of Daughter’s life and specific activities out of the blog, but I must break this rule, if for no other reason than to try to find medical treatment for her. My poor daughter cannot hear the half of anything I say. For want of a better and more-obscene phrase, I call it half-hearing disorder.

This morning, during the usual deranged rush to get to school on time without use of a catapult, I said to her “Please put your homework in your backpack and zip it closed”. Since I was trying to create a lunch only consisting of two-thirds of the Kraft oeuvre, I only watched her out of the corner of my eye. She walked to the backpack, carefully zipped the six hundred and forty-one pockets closed, and then stared at me with pride at actually accomplishing something on the first request. I waited a second for her to notice on her own that the zipping hadn’t been preceded by anything; she waited for a second for the praise for the zipping, the only thing she heard being asked to do. I pointed with my elbow towards the table, at the sheaf of homework.

I said slowly, “Before the zipping, there was the putting-in”. We then both stared at the table-top homework, and then she looked at me and said mildly, “Oh, okay”, as in “This is news to me but, sure, I can do that”. She unzipped a few lesser pockets, and inserted her homework. Because I am the headshot under the definition of “Foolish”, I then said “We’re almost ready to go. Please do your mouthwash and tie your shoes”. Daughter beetled off to the bathroom, and came back out again. I was surprised to see her laces were flapping on the ground; she was surprised that I wanted her shoelaces tied, as this was the first she heard of it. While she did it, I realized she needed a sweater but, having possibly, finally learned something in this world, I kept that thought to myself until the final knot was knotted.

There are contentious ages; this isn’t one of them. This isn’t the carnival of sighing and eye-rolling we were all subjected to last year. This certainly isn’t adolescence, with the constant underlying irritation that this cook/ATM/chauffeur makes these bizarre requests for no other reason than to prove their irrational lust for power and made beds. Currently, she’s more than willing to work within the system, as long as the system rewards her periodically with visits to and the odd dosage of candy corn.

After some consideration, I have come to think that the sheer eagerness to please of this age is what’s working against her; her brain hears the first request and shouts “ALL HANDS ON DECK! FIND THAT LOST TENNIS SHOE!”, thereby drowning out the second part where I’ve mentioned that, once found, the shoe should actually be put on, matching the shoe on her other foot. This leads to a child drifting around the house, holding a shoe, mentioning how her sock-clad foot is cold and look! I found my shoe!

The current system seems to be “Find request and do it. Choose either the difficult part of the request, thereby spending an hour in search of an object whose location was given to you in the first part of the request, or quickly and easily find the finish the first appointed task—for example, find all the Barbie shoes littered throughout the house-- and yet somehow miss hearing where your mother tells you to take your copious Barbie shoe collection (Seasons Fall 1997- Spring 2007) and put them in the Barbie clothing box. Being as the Barbie clothing box has never been referred to as anything but the Barbie clothing box, it would be fairly evident to anybody not suffering from Half-Hearing disorder that, maybe, they live there. However, Half-Hearing disorder means a girl walks around with handfuls of shoes for minutes, accidentally dribbling tiny pumps and wee trashy boots throughout the house, a tacky Hansel and Gretel, awaiting further instructions. Eventually, having been asked to set the table, she carefully piles the shoes for wee strippers in a place about five inches from said Barbie clothing box; for those with Half-Hearing disorder, she had done exactly what was asked of her; she had picked up the Barbie shoes. Why Mother had seemed so excited about picking up dolls shoes and putting them back down again, she didn’t know. Then again, she didn’t understand my obsessive need for naps either. Maybe it was an old person thing.

Since I don’t think it’s a psychological attempt to gaslight me and get the inheritance early (and won’t that be a disappointment to her), and her current disposition says more “Amiable” than “Aggressive”, I am left with only the conclusion that she has hearing problems. For those parents dealing with this sporadic hearing deficit, I must know; is there a hearing aid for the under-ten crowd? Something which alerts their brain “Keep listening, information to follow which will explain to you why you have been asked to get knives, forks and spoons out of the cutlery drawer right around dinner time”? And can this hearing aid be modified as the years progress? Imagine is computer chip, inserted deep into your teenager’s ear which, right before they were to respond, would whisper to them “Your parent’s aren’t actually idiots, you’re not the first generation to discover sex, and they find the tone you are about to use incompatible with lending you their car”? Finally, in college, it would be tweaked to remind them that, when coming home for the weekend, it sets the right tone to hug the parents before handing them your laundry and speed-dialing the thirty-eight friends you simply have to see in the next 48 hours.

I have a dream: a country which can get men to the moon, and create a computer capable of out-playing us in chess, and able to create the technology to replace three-quarters of Pamela Anderson’s body with plastic laminates can create a chip which allows children to hear their parents. We parents must stand up as one and demand the ability to ask our children to remember more than one task at a time. Yes, the children might ignore us, but the government will crumble in the face of such resolve; the hearing aids will be devised within a year.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to pick nits, QC, but that last sentence had more than the normal quota of grammar errors. Are you sure you're not beset with half-awake syndrom? ;>

-- Timothy

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a doctor friend who calls this "selective audition." She says it is difficult to treat because it is sex-linked: All children have it, but at puberty it becomes the sole province of the men in our lives :-)


3:52 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Great! Thanks for writing this. I have no answers but at least you entertained me. Reminds me of the old Cosby routine about all kids having brain damage. But fresher and sharper.

4:24 PM  
Blogger ZoesMom said...

My fiver year old suffers from the same disease! I wonder if we should form a support group. It is a truly crazy-making phenomenon. I find that the only thing that works is to demand eye contact and then have the commands repeated back to me. This does slow things up when trying to get ready for the bus stop, but does somewhat cut down on the me repeating myself at a much greater volume (i.e. yelling).

4:45 PM  
Blogger Valerie said...

thank you for the best laugh i've had in a week! but i have to take issue: i don't believe it ends with childhood/teenhood/etc.

the Husband is 47 years old. he only hears half of what i say as well and is physically incapable of a)emptying trash/dishwasher/litter box without being asked minimum of five times and b)replacing the empty toilet paper roll.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Both my 7 year old daughter and my husband have this disorder! And in their cases, it becomes much worse when the tv is on. They become totally deaf. It doesn't matter WHAT is on the tv or even if they are watching it. If it is on and they are in the same room with it, they become transfixed and anything I do or say is completely ignored. It's an amazing phenomenon really. When I want to be heard, I simply turn off the tv with the remote and I have their immediate attention!

7:35 PM  
Blogger Goslyn said...

Ah, can we modify that chip for a two-year-old? Mine is in a similar stage as your daughter seems to be.

9:12 PM  
Blogger houseband00 said...

Thanks for a great post, Quinn. It really hit close to home.

I sometimes try to put myself in my 9-year old son's shoes when he starts to be oblivious to my nagging; I then realize how irritating I must sound.

He must think that I still treat him like a baby.

4:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, my 14 year old son still has this disorder.

8:08 AM  
Blogger Dodi said...

Again, your genius makes me giggle. My seven year old is EXACTLY as you described your daughter... frightening, isn't it? They can all be so very different - and so very predictable in the same breath.

I wish you could post every day!

4:56 PM  
Blogger OHN said...

Quinn--if you didn't see this mom on Good MOrning America, you have to watch her...I think she is onto something :)

4:09 PM  
Blogger theflyingmum said...

Um, the daily kitten: seriously? My son has to be reminded to stop with the Star Wars sound effects when we are making requests of him.
And "tweezer friend." Only in California (I hope...)

8:52 PM  
Blogger Jan said...

I have two such creatures living in my home and you can't even imagine the confusion this creates! The selective audition is cubed! For instance, if I remind boy one to present himself for a chore, boy two might show up....or, more likely, neither boy appears because each claims I was talking to the other. Amazingly, this can happen even if only one boy is home at the time!

Then there is the husband. He has deflective audition disease. If I ask him to, say, take the trash out, his immediate response is, "Sure! BOY ONE? TAKE THIS TRASH OUT FOR MOMMY!"

Clearly, all three of them are more clever than I.

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the mom of 6 who are 17 and over, this selective hearing deficit does not improve with age, it in fact moves on to being unable to read (even after some college). I have tried leaving detailed notes, before leaving a sleeping house, to go to work after many years of unsuccessful attempts at verbal communication. This has also proven futile, especially once they get jobs, since they become far too "busy" to even read a note, nevermind, do their own dishes (dishwasher), laundry (high capacity front loader) or to simply bring a roll of tp to the bathroom upstairs after they've used the last "wipe." I can only hope that I live long enough for them to find their 47 year old a** stranded up there with not a square to be had and then try extract anything but snickering from me about the ordeal...

6:56 PM  

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