It has become Lipreading Mom’s habit to strike up a conversation with anyone who will listen to my hearing loss story. At the grocery store, church, gym, library. If I’m in a situation in which my hearing makes an activity difficult, I’ll speak up.
Yesterday, I had one of these conversations with a librarian. While my 3-year-old boy yelled “Mama!” at a deafening pitch, I pulled the kind woman in the library aside and told her why my little boy screeches at me.
“I’m hard of hearing,” I said. “He talks loud so I can hear him.”
The lady turned from her desk. After a short pause, I expected her to offer a sympathetic, ‘Oh, I’m sorry. I had no idea.’
Instead, she began pulling something out of her ear. “I wear this.”
She held out a tiny, in-the-canal hearing aid. I wasn’t so much shocked as intrigued. This woman seemed so young.
I found out during the conversation that her kids, although older than mine, also tend to talk loud with her. It became a show-and-tell of stories and hearing aids. I raised my hair to expose my ears.
“Oh, I tried wearing those,” she said of my behind-the-ear-style aids. “But when I wore my glasses, they bumped my hearing aids.”
This woman, in her 40s and only a decade older than me, got it. She understood what life is like for Lipreading Mom because she’s treading the same uncertain waters of hearing loss. The librarian knew that a loud child wasn’t being intentionally disruptive.
I handed her my business card with information about my local hearing loss support group.
“Thanks for telling me,” she said, taking the card. “About your hearing loss.”
I shrugged off yet another one of my son’s yells. “Better that you know than think my child is just being a brat.”
Then me and my little boy, with his too-shrill-for-the-library voice, got the heck out of there.