Julie Lyles Carr: The Dirtiest Word...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Dirtiest Word...

One of the things you learn quickly in living with a child with hearing impairment is that whatever words they are going to have are going to have to be intentionally taught. While the majority of us learn language through overhearing, an estimated 80% portion of our vocabulary learning, a hearing impaired child on average will have to hear a word between five thousand to ten thousand times to master the word and its usage.

It's a little tiring, even if you like to talk as much as I do.

So given those statistics, I was a little stunned a couple of years ago when 4 of 8 came to me with a confession to make.

"Mom," she began nervously, "I need to tell you something. I was really mad a couple of nights ago about having to wear hearing aids. I know I'm supposed to be grateful, but I was just mad that I have to wear them and so I took them out and I threw them on my desk and then I...I...then I....I said the very worst word at them...I said the 'F' word at them."

Her gray-blue eyes watered and looked anxiously for my reaction.

My mommy brain took a deep breath and fixed an expression of neutrality on my face. Knowing how hard we have worked to get basic vocabulary into this kid, I was trying to figure out where she might have encountered the 'F' word. I was pretty sure we hadn't covered it in our therapy sessions. Her adorable little buddy across the street didn't seem to traffic in sailor cursing. Hmmmmmm....

"The 'F' word, huh? Wow, you must have been pretty frustrated. So, tell me, what is the 'F' word?"

"You know, Mom, it's the very worst word. It's the worst word you can say. My friend told me that the dirtiest word is the 'F' word."

"Well, yeah, Baby, but what word is the 'F' word?"

Her eyes started to leak those tightly held tears. "Oh, Mom, you know. I don't want to say it again...."

Deep breath.

"I threw the hearing aids on the desk and then I said at them...I said....'hate'."

Yes, Baby, that is the dirtiest word. Hate.

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