After weeks and weeks of praying and thinking about how in the world I would be able to get my two-year-old son, Jacob, to his special needs private school on a Monday through Friday basis, I had a thought. Maybe I should back up before I tell you that thought though.
When my son, Jacob, was about 10-months-old, we took him to an audiologist, and we were informed that he was profoundly deaf. I won’t take this chapter to go into all the details of the prayers, tears, and emotions that followed that news, but I will tell you that Jacob can now hear everything that we hear because he received a Cochlear Implant January, 2000 at the age of 18-months, which is the earliest age for which the surgery is approved. A Cochlear Implant is an “electric ear.” That’s how I explain it to anyone who asks. The important bit of information that you must know now is that he can now hear everything that we hear, but he needs to learn to listen. For 18 months of his life, the “hearing part of his brain” was not utilized, as there wasn’t any sound being sent to his brain. So, although Jacob can now hear, we need to “jump start” the hearing part of his brain and teach his brain to listen. Does that make any sense at all? Well, what I’m trying to explain is, that even though Jacob now has a cochlear implant and can now hear an enormous amount of work is going on behind the scenes with speech therapists, us, and his special needs private school, his audiologist, and of course, God, all working together to “implement” his cochlear implant. We are all teaching him the relevance of sound.
The first five years are crucial for any child – hearing or not! But especially when that child has gone from not hearing to hearing, a lot of work needs to be done to explain and re-define what they have missed. I’m not a doctor, but I do remember an interesting fact from my developmental psychology class at that little two-year community college I went to in Washington State. The first five years of a child’s life are the most profound regarding development, because certain things occur in the brain that, after five years old, just do not occur anymore. Also, the child comes to understand his/her world and how they relate in and to that world. Their security or insecurity is established, their love needs are met, or they aren’t, they have the security blanket of a functional home, or they don’t, and these very crucial settings that set the foundation for that child’s self-esteem and their sense of self-worth. All of these things combined influence how a child learns and adapts in order to succeed for the rest of their life! I say all that to try to say in a nutshell, “The first five years are crucial for learning!” And so it goes for a child with a cochlear implant; but it is even more crucial than that! The real difference between a child who is deaf and has a cochlear implant and a regular hearing child is that a child who is deaf and has a cochlear implant must be shown everything first. Whereas with a regular hearing child, you go about your day telling them to put their shoes on, brush their teeth, you sing a song, turn on a cartoon, fix dinner, etc. When you have a child with an implant you must always, always, always, introduce language, words to objects, vocabulary, and work on the ssssssssoooouuuuuuuuuuund of everything so that the child has multi-millions of opportunities to say to himself, “Oh, yes, momma is teaching me a new word, a new sound, a new concept, a new lesson, a new opportunity for me to interrelate my new hearing world so that I can eventually make the connection myself and make the sound myself!” How exhausting was that for you to read? I know it was, but I briefly try to explain the process so that you can come to understand the endless amount of work involved.
The prospect of Jacob’s special needs private school changing from Tuesdays and Thursdays to Monday through Friday boggled my mind. A drive to Atlanta from our house in Snellville, GA takes a little over an hour, and sometimes a lot longer than that, depending on the traffic. So, we have at least 2.5 hours of driving each day, 4 hours of class, and let us not forget the hour it takes to get ready in the morning. A total of 7.5 hours a day devoted to getting Jacob to his school: EVERYDAY! What does a mom do for employment?!!! Any ideas? Well, I could work a night job at Home Depot like my husband did while he was in college. That would serve the purpose for “night shift hours”, and it would pay for at least some groceries and the water bill. What about the rest of the bills and the needs of the children?! Needless to say, I was very frustrated, but I was almost settled on the idea of doing just that: working nights at Home Depot for three years or so, until Jacob was able to be mainstreamed into a regular classroom setting (around his 5th birthday). I practically walked around with my hands up in the air at the utter prospect of such a hard life! Ugh, nights at Home Depot, (not to discredit Home Depot or any of the employees. My husband was one for four years, and it’s hard work! It’s just the thought of night hours after already experiencing a full day of work with my son to get him what he needed to hear and eventually speak wore me out.) How would I handle being in Atlanta all day with Jacob, having hardly any money and hardly any sleep! (Yuck! God, there’s got to be something better! There’s got to be! I pray so.)
Well, there is! When I walked into the Senior Partner’s office, Joe’s office, and told him that I’d have to quit because I had to get my son to many appointments during the day, and I just wouldn’t be able to hold down this job – I’d have to drive a forklift at Home Depot at night – I did it in the Air Force- I could do it again (I hated those forklifts though), he told me, “Kris, No. Just talk to Andrew, the computer man, and have him set you up at home. Jacob comes first.”
Well, needless to say, I hugged him, and then I worked my tail off at nights and weekends to keep up with the job and make sure it got done. You see, it’s exactly what this series of devotionals is all about: God & Coffee II – a fresh edge of faith in the midst of reality - It’s about the impossible turning into possibilities, no matter how bleak it may first appear.
So, how’s that for a thought?! I told God that I was going to quit asking for cheeseburgers and start asking for steaks, because there is just way too much at stake down here, way too much. That’s my thought. (I hope it sparked some of your own.)
HERE’S A THOUGHT
The problem was much bigger
Than I could possibly stand
For some inspiration
I’d have to have a party and hire a great band
Nothing nothing nothing
My mere little brain could not resolve
This circumstance in my life
That I thought that I could solve
So I gave it all to God
And I prayed – like a million times before
And I asked God to give me a solution
And open a brand new door
I asked Him to help me think
Of something I hadn’t of yet
I asked Him to make a
Miracle out of it
And then I heard mostly silence
But the wheels still did turn
And suddenly slowly I heard
A little hum and churn
Hey how about something different
think of the most amazing thing yet
and see if it’s what ya get
And as I began to envision
All that I ever hoped for
It seems I got a glimpse
Of our Loving Lord
May your thoughts be focused on things above – mainly God – and His abilities to help you in all your inabilities. Remember, life is tough, but God’s tougher and so are you.
But now, this is what the Lord says – he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Kristina Seymour loves to encourage and equip women through the Word and through community. She is the author of The Warrior Mom Handbook, The Warrior Mom Leadership Manual, and The Warrior Wife Handbook; they are available at Amazon.com. Kristina's Bible studies are for women who desire to live by faith in the midst of their everyday lives. She has learned that women can't survive on caffeine and animal crackers alone; women in the Word and in community are united and able to stand firm. To learn more about Kristina, please visit her website, https://kristinaseymour.com/. God loves to share His story of love and grace through us all, and Kristina believes that everyone has a story to tell.