How do you explain to a little boy that he is different?

When he tells you he can’t wait until he doesn’t need his hearing aids any more…  How do you tell him that he will always, always need them?

That his hearing will never improve. 

His ears will never be fixed. 

That he just won’t ever hear the way the rest of us do.

How do you look him in the eye, knowing that what you tell him will wound him…

…That he’s different.

…That he’s special

I cringe at those words. 

How do you make.him.understand just how extraordinary you think he is? 

And when you look into his big, sad eyes, and he says

“I will have to wear hearing aids…even when I’m a dad?”

“Even when you’re a dad.”

He thinks he will heal. 

You know he will not. 

He thinks he is broken. 

You know he is not. 

You wipe big, round tears from his face.  You hold him in your arms.  You tell him you love him, so much.

You tell him the beautiful things about him. 

And then you go to bed.

Broken-hearted.

Knowing.

Knowing that the real hard part about this is just beginning.

Searching.

Praying.

Crying.

Hoping. 

Hoping he will see, someday, what you see.

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How do you explain to a little boy that he is different?

17 thoughts on “How do you explain to a little boy that he is different?

  1. You’re a fantastic Mom and I have no doubt you’ll be able to give him the confidence and skills he needs to be happy. I don’t know how you explain the difference, but I think that understanding will come with age.

  2. Oh friend. This breaks my heart for you. I can’t imagine.

    BUT…

    Maybe you don’t have to rule out the possibility of his “healing”? Maybe not healing in the traditional sense of the word, but “healing” through medical miracles. Technological breakthroughs. There is no impossible, right? Maybe you can carry just a nugget of hope for that, somewhere inside. Maybe seeing just the flicker of it in you will help him through?

    Obviously I can’t speak to Henry’s specific condition. Maybe it’s something that’s tangled up in his genetic code. But that innocence of his? That hope? Just reading about it makes me want to believe for him. Not get his hopes up just to crush them by any means. But believe for him. Because just maybe some brilliant doctor will come along, his hand being guided from above. And maybe that doctor will discover something that justifies the hope.

    I’ve rambled. And I mean no disrespect to all the blood, sweat and tears you’ve poured into this child. Into learning about his condition. So feel free to tell me to shut up. It was just the second thought that came to mind as I read your beautiful post. My first thought being, “wow. With a mountain like that to climb, God must have had a whole lotta faith in that mom. And her boy.”

  3. Mom says:

    Henry’s mom and dad were chosen for him and he for you. Never forget that. It’s part of the divine plan. And we don’t know the future, but I’ve always believed that Henry will do something wonderful with his life, maybe even playing a part himself in healing his little ears and the little ears of many. Still, it’s a rough road, but you’ll overcome the obstacles. Have faith. I love you.

  4. I wish I had some amazing advice to offer. But I don’t. I have a thought, though… Point out the younger people around you that have hearing aids. Not “around you” like in your family and such, but at the store, the bank, etc… After writing this, I thought “she probably already does that.”

    Does it make you feel better if I tell you that I work with a lot of children with hearing aids? And that they all question the necessity of them, and reject them for a while (even purposely put them in the washer!), just to turn around one day and realize that they need them? And then those kids turn into amazing, well-adjusted, honor roll students who have hoards of friends that couldn’t care less about what they wear in their ears, just that they are a cool kid to hang out with?

    Oh, and you are an awesome Mom. Awesome.

  5. Toni :O) says:

    Awww…this brought me to tears…he’s so lucky to have you for a Mom, he truly is. I agree with your Mom, I think he’ll do great things…it shows in his beautiful eyes and his smile. He can do anything with the two of you as parents to help guide his way….don’t cry, just lean on all of us cause we’re all here to share in your joys and pain. Big hugs to you!

  6. I have to second Darcie’s hope – with all the advances in medicine…perhaps there may a day. You give him hope, you give him laughs and you give him your love. He is special in so many more ways. Hugs. I know these moments are tough for you both.

  7. Oh my. This one hits home and made me hurt for you and Henry. What about explaining that they are like glasses in some ways? They help people see better, just like the hearing aids help Henry hear better. Glasses are a bit more common…lots of Dads wear them. I know you will figure out a wonderful way to make Henry see the hearing aids as a blessing. It may be something he continues to question, or may just be his age. Either way, he’s lucky to have you to support him along the way.

  8. Oh, Kristen. I will never forget the day that Henry said this to me at school – I have never cried at something a student said, but that day, after reassuring Henry that hearing aids were like glasses and that he was perfect, I had to walk out of the room. I was heartbroken for him – not for his hearing loss, but because he was seeing that there was something different. Nicole coming to visit with her hearing aids seemed to help, she even checked her batteries with Henry – showing him that some grown-ups have hearing aids too. I can see if she can stop by school and see him one afternoon if you’d like.
    Please give Henry a big hug and let him know how special he is from me!

  9. I know this probably won’t make you feel any better, but almost all kids with hearing loss have gone through this at one point or another. It sounds like you did a great job of explaining it to him. He will understand, and the way you talk about his hearing aids (amazing little pieces of technology, rather than something to be ashamed of) will affect his view on them too.

    If you haven’t already, I would reccomend going to a local event with people of all ages who have hearing loss. Maybe have him talk to someone a couple of years older, as well as point out some happy adults (and a couple of dads) who use technology to help them hear. It sounds like he’s oral, so maybe look into local AG Bell chapters and events (www.agbell.org).

  10. Henry is growing up into such a handsome little man! I love that picture of him!
    I’m so sad for you after reading this post! It sounds like you are having a rough day and really could use a great big hug! I would just focus on all the positives in his life. The overabundance of postitives. He has such a wonderful family that will pull together and help him accomplish so many wonderful things in his life!

  11. Erika says:

    I love you Kristen. I don’t really know you, but I love you. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your life with us. It is so beautiful.

    P.S. This is why it takes you days to post a blog and I can whip out 20 in one day!!!! Yours is art, mine is NOT. 🙂

  12. This is the hardest thing I have ever dealt with as a mother.
    She will be 21 next month.She has been in her wheelchair for 14 years now. And still working through questions.

  13. I know exactly how you feel, Mom. My heart breaks along with yours. These days (at 12 and a half) Zach understands and accepts that he will always have cerebral palsy. He’s gained a lot of confidence in himself through the things that he CAN do well, such as swimming and jiu jitsu. He doesn’t get upset about things as much as he did when he was smaller and first figured out that this was forever.

    But it still stinks to be different. It still stinks that he’s always going to walk “weird.” It stinks to meet new kids and get stared at, avoided or picked on. He’s learned to deal with it. He makes friends easily. And as much as I hate him having to go through it, I can see that it’s making him into a compassionate, courageous and caring young man. It doesn’t matter to him as much as it did…and I pray that one day it won’t matter at all. That he’ll be so secure in himself it won’t matter that he’s different. I’ll pray that for Henry, too!

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