I did not feel different back in Beverly, Mass. From Kindergarten to Fourth Grade, my classmates and I grew up together and they knew about my hearing loss and my routine whether it was to meet my teacher of the deaf for one class period or the aide would come to my class to assist me with Math or English during the class.
My family and I had an adventurous road trip from Albany, NY to Phoenix, AZ (we departed from my grandparents’ house in Albany). One of my favorite memories were a stop at Notre Dame University, watching my brother and dad being attacked and chased by the squirrels. My mother and I were laughing hysterically behind the tree watching this scene. Another stop in Missouri, there was a rain storm so we stopped at a hotel with an awesome swimming pool. I was so excited to go swimming after being in the van road tripping! I discovered my mother forgot to pack me a swimsuit. My family laughed at me for wearing my mother’s sports bra and bicycle shorts. I was so embarrassed but had to wear my big girl pants if I wanted to have fun. Then there were other nights we had to sleep in the van at the rest area, I was horrified as I cannot hear when I go to sleep. (I take off my devices when I go to sleep) The parking lot, the horror slaughter scenes rolling in my head, and I did not sleep at all during the night. This trip marked me as “Cooler Girl” forever and to this day, my title is now passed on to my daughter. “Can you get the Iced Tea? Grab me a peach?”, on and on.
My first year in Arizona was dreadful. We started school in August when it was 115 degrees outside. Yuck! What happened to September and cool fall day with dusk sunsets while the leaves slowly fell off the trees? It was all concrete and modern buildings in Arizona. Bright sun light that made our eyes squint. There was another hearing-impaired student in my class, he used ASL and had an interpreter. I did not like the girls at the school, the “popular” group spit on me and other classmates to be “cool”. I begged my mother to transfer me to another school. She found a small charter school in Scottsdale. The 5th/6th grade class was combined and had 14 students in a class. I started to feel accepted for who I was. I loved every day at school. I was excelling in academics because my teacher worked in small groups and worked very well with me. During the first year in Arizona, a teacher of the deaf introduced me to a new hearing impaired girl,”B”, who moved to AZ the same year I did but was at a different school. She did not like her school either. We became best friends instantly. She was hard of hearing, she had much more hearing than I did so you would never guess she was hearing impaired. We went to this charter school together in Scottsdale. We did not have a teacher of deaf or IEP since it was a charter school. We did not want any of the resources. We just wanted to be normal. Or at least I did. This was my favorite year. I had my first boyfriend who asked me out and I said no. Then he asked me out again, I said yes. When this happened at our school, the boys would call the girls and have a phone chat.
He called me, embarrassingly it had to be on the speaker phone so my mother quietly relayed his messages to me.
That was a sting.
School ended. It was time to go to a new school as there were no more grades after 6th grade at school.
My friend B and I were enrolled at a private Christian school. It was new to me. The bible. I knew God. I prayed to him for an hour at our masses while I was growing up. I did not and still cannot hear the masses. I never understood. First day of school, my friend and I walked hurriedly to our first class of the day, I saw a boy walking fast in front of us. He was wearing blue shirt and jeans. Soon, I did not know we would become best friends and keep in touch to this day! Anyways, I did not want the boys in 7th and 8th grade classes to know that I was hearing impaired. I did not want them to judge me. Okay, I was boy crazy too. I wore my hair down to have my hearing loss to be invisible. I barely said any words to the boys just hi or nod and smile and walk away. One day after two weeks of school, the group of girls knew who I liked and the boys liked me. They went ahead and told them I was hearing impaired. I did not know. The last ten minutes of school, our class said a prayer (again, I could not hear the teacher or classmate saying the prayer). We were putting our chairs on the table and putting our backpacks on waiting for the bell to ring. The group of girls were huddled in a group being secretive and looking at me while the boys are the other side talking and looking at me and the group of the girls. I asked a girl what was going on. She felt sad and did not want to tell me.
I begged her.
She told me.
I discovered the group of girls in 7th and 8th grade told the boys about my hearing loss.
My heart sank.
My eyes were watery.
My hands were clammy.
The bell rang.
That was one of the longest moments in my life.
B’s mother picked us up, she always had a beautiful smile and sparkling eyes. She always asked us how our days were in a positive and cheerful manner. B informed her mom what happened to me. She was sad. Her mom was sad. I just nodded and wiped my tears away looking out the window while driving. They dropped me off at my parents. I wanted my parents. At the time, my dad was still living in Vermont (By the way, my parents only separated for a few years and miraculously got back together when I was in 2nd grade!) I needed my mom.
Two hours later....
The sun never dims.. It stays bright till the last hour suddenly.. In August, the sun goes down around 7:45-8:00pm.
I am crying..
Peaking through the tan wood shutters..
I need my mama.. My cheerleader..
She walked through the door of our home in her turquoise scrubs with a dental scent. She held me, wiped my tears and told me to be strong. My best friend, who I called her "remarkable mama" and whispered the words to her before bedtime for years. Meanwhile, my brother came home from Chaparral High School and went directly to me to hold me. He told me not to let it bother me, this is who I am and he loves me for who I am.
(He couldn't and wouldn't get his lunchbox to protect me from others since we were at different schools and he knew that would not be a good solution. The solution was to accept who I am and find my wings to grow stronger )
His green eyes were getting greener from sadness and tears filling up. #FAMILY LOVE
Hearing Impaired single mother and teacher aide at a hearing impaired oral preschool program. An author of "Turn The Lights On, I Cant Hear You".