I love summer. Love the longer days, warm weather, carefree attitude, spending the entire day/night outdoors, bbqs, days at the beach, ice cream, you get the picture. Having a son who wears hearing aids though, brings a whole new dimension to summer. Because along with all those joys, come some asterisks.
Hearing aids, humidity, water activities, sweat, and constant sunblock are not quite winning combinations. Those spontaneous water fights? All I can think is how not to get the hearing aids caught in the crossfire. Or the misters at public places that are intended to be fun and refreshing? I get agita just thinking what that moisture could do his aids. And those passing summer rainshowers? Hard to prepare for those in advance!
One of the biggest things about summer is being in the pool or ocean. If you really want to know what keeps me up at night, you can start with this topic. Since Jayden doesn’t wear his aids in the water his safety in these situations can be anxiety producing for me. What if he’s running too fast too close to a pool, but can’t hear me or anyone else yelling to slow down, what if a whistle is blown for an emergency, or if he’s too far out in the water? I have my own issues and fears about the ocean and deep ends of pools, enough that can burn a hole in a therapist’s couch, but when I add to that my fear of having my child, without his aids, who doesn’t know how to swim, in or even near the water – there’s not enough klonopin in the world to calm those fears. Jayden is not so comfortable in the water and learning to swim has been a slow process, happening on his own pace. The need to shell the money out for swim lessons year round is a necessity to me, because one way or another we are going to make that kid a champion swimmer whether he likes it or not!
And then there’s camp… Each time I send Jayden “out of the nest” into new territory I am plagued with the same apprehension and worry. It is one thing to worry about all of the above and have it be under my watch, but to know he’s in those situations without me nearby?? And aside from the usual angst a parent feels about a kid starting something new and wanting to assure that he adjusts, makes friends, etc I worry about having to give my crash course in hearing aids to a whole new set of people. Jayden knows the drill that he has to stand there as I demonstrate on his little ears how to put the aids in, and kudos to him as he sits there patiently as each new person fumbles their way with putting them in.
With summer halfway over I am happy to report that just like every new chapter we enter for Jayden, with the proper planning, precautions, organization and education we seem to have a handle on things. We have been fortunate that Jayden is going to an amazingly organized camp this summer with such open lines of communication (major points from me!). We’ve worked out a great system to have the camp nurse take his aids out down by the pool right before swim and put them back in right after. With swim twice a day this is no small job! My insane need to be prepared even got him this mega waterproof case to put the aids in – he could probably go scuba diving with it and the aids would be fine! The counselors and lifeguards know when a whistle is blown to check to make sure someone gets his attention. If they get caught in a rainstorm to try to throw a towel or something over his head to protect the aids. During daily swim lessons in a very loud pool with multiple lessons going on around, the lifeguards know that he has to see their face to follow what they’re saying. I just pray that those teenage counselors don’t forget in the spur of the moment that Jayden can’t be the target of a water fight assault!
As he gets older, he will not get to go on Summer break when it comes to self-advocacy and responsibility. I won’t always be able to hand hold counselors into how to take his aids on and off, he will need to learn to have responsibility for them by the pool. During free swim he will need to be aware of when it looks like his friends are pausing for a “buddy check” or if they are going to the side since a whistle was blown. He will need true “buddies” when he’s at the pool to be his ears for him. I hope he doesn’t get self-conscious when he can’t hear what his friends are saying in the pool, or feel strong enough to say – “no, you can’t douse me with water in your random water fight since I have my hearing aids on and they can’t get wet,” or have restraint to run in those misters. He will need to learn to be alert when near water, and not put sunblock on near his aids. That’s a lot for a kid to have to be responsible for in addition to everything else we expect of our kids. The list of ways we expect Jayden to rise to the occasion seems to keep growing, but so far he has established a good track record…
Summertime is just another reminder of how sometimes some extra efforts need to be expended to ensure Jayden is set up for success. With half the summer behind us and things chugging along smoothly, Jayden is having a blast at camp and with summertime activities. It is all just another reminder of how having to do some extra precautions and preparation is just a part of our lives, and once we get past all the logistics, we can back to eating ice cream far too many times in a week, after finishing up a long day playing in the water, and enjoying a backyard BBQ.