I guess it's more like an ongoing conversation of sorts, than "the talk". And no, I'm not talking about the birds and the bees. I'm referring to his ear. With every passing day, Lucas enters further and further into toddlerhood and heightened awareness of his surroundings. It's the right time to begin talking to him, however simply, about his cochlear implant.
It's no longer that Lucas wakes up and I put it on his head, like when he was first implanted. I ask him if he wants it first, and usually he asks for it first anyway. He gets that he can't access his world without it. He understands the difference between when he is and isn't wearing his CI. Whether he understands that as "hearing" or not, I'm not sure.
I want him to develop language to talk about his CI, and a basic understanding of what it is. When I'm wearing my glasses, I will often say "Mommy needs her glasses to see, just like you need your CI to hear." He understands his CI receptively as his "ear". When we're at the playground, we ask for him to hand us "his ear" right before he goes down the slide. He always willingly obliges. Recently though, I've taught him to say "CI". He hasn't used it spontaneously yet, but it will come. I decided "cochlear implant" is too long and technical right now (and he won't be able to pronounce it well anyway). I also decided that "ear", while cute and appropriate within our family, is not the right expressive word for him either. "CI" it will be, until he chooses another way of describing it for himself.
Speaking of spontaneous, Nate and I heard Lucas say "thank you" today, UNPROMPTED. I realize this is just a natural toddler milestone, but we're always extra excited when he reaches them. It made me think of this blogpost over at Hopeful Parents (great website, by the way). Not that I have any common experiences with this mother, but more that she got me thinking about how we constantly prompt as parents, and then they finally get it on their own. Saying "thank you" hasn't been a point of frustration for us or anything, but it's exciting that he produced it on his own.
How do you talk to your young toddler about his/her cochlear implant/hearing loss? What kinds of words do you use to describe it? I dread the day when Lucas asks me why no one else around him has a CI, or starts a conversation like this. Those are the days that I'm thankful that we do know a few kids locally around Lucas's age who have cochlear implants. I hope that his friend, Jack, and he will grow up to be good buddies. The first time that Jack had his cochlear implant and saw that Lucas has one too, he got really excited and signed "same". It made me cry.
Until then... his "CI" it will be. And I will continue to affirm that he is my special little boy with a special ear to help him hear. Oh yeah, and I'm still meeting that 500-a-day kiss quota.