Thursday, 26 July 2012

Before I knew I was deaf…


Last night, while marvelling at how the heat in my bedroom was preventing sleep, I whacked my iPod on shuffle and attached it to the speaker that sits by my bed.

The shuffle selected Starship's 1987 album No Protection and suddenly I was catapulted backwards to memories of my 9-year-old self, dancing around the living room to Beat Patrol, the opening track.

I don't often reminisce that far back and the strange thing about doing this is that it was a time when no one knew I was deaf. Not even me.

Back then I was a 'hearing' kid. I played violin and wanted to be a professional violinist, I danced and wanted to be in the Royal Variety Performance. Hell, if Britain's Got Talent had existed in 1989, I'd have done everything I could to get on that show. One time at a pantomime when Lionel Blair asked for children up on stage, I clambered over seats to get up there… such was my enthusiasm.

Whenever I got the chance, I would book the living room, kick everyone out, move the furniture and dance to my Pa's CDs – Jefferson Airplane, Starship, and the Pet Shop Boys. I loved them all and listened to tracks on repeat. But my 9-year-old self didn't realise that there were actual words being said, so to this day, I don't know the words to a single track by any of those bands.

Remembering back to those days when I simply didn't know I was deaf gives me a bit of a clue about what I might have been like if I wasn't deaf – a chatterbox who quite happily waded into anything and didn't have once ounce of self doubt.

But then isn't that just part of being 9 years old? And I guess I'm also forgetting the downsides of being deaf but no one knowing. The teacher who gave me detention almost every day for a term as I was always the last one to stop talking when she said sshhhhh, the French listening exams I failed at every single time, the dictation in English where I thought half the challenge was to guess the storyline, and the whispered chat that girls of 9 love to have that I simply couldn't follow.

I also was rubbish on the hockey pitch as I couldn't hear the whistle, a disaster at netball for the same reason and never heard the rules of either as they were shouted across the pitch or court and I couldn't follow them.

Ignorance was not bliss.

Then when people found out I was deaf, I kind of felt like I'd failed something.

I got these HUGE hearing aids, which I wore in my pocket.

I had a hideous teacher who used to make me face the wall so I couldn't lipread her to make sure I was wearing them. I wasn't.

I liked my world exactly how it was. But in some ways, now everyone knew, it was better, because as at least now my French teacher understood why I was so rubbish at French listening and my violin teacher could work on different ways to keep me in tune.

I think though discovering my deafness meant I had to let go of a few dreams. The concert violinist one was first to go. but hey, letting go of your childhood dreams happens to pretty much everyone.

Last night, listening to Starship, remembering my 9 year old self, I actually felt pretty happy.

I mean I got the best of both worlds. I had 9 years of thinking I was perfect and the rest discovering that no one is.

Sounds like an idyllic childhood to me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We recon you are still perfect DG. You do just fine for us!

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