Recently I came across this post which was shared on Facebook:
146 comments. Everything from people making a pun about ears, to angry parents whose children who born without an ear. You can read all the comments here: https://www.facebook.com/260234427427165/posts/2296682540449000
My husband has 2 prosthetic ears
Actually he has 4 prosthetic ears, but the one pair is super old and needed replaced because the color was faded the magnets were falling out. He only wears the new pair, because 2 ears looks better than 4. His ears look just like the one in the picture. I mean, not exactly, his are a different shape. Designed after his dad’s ears, because I guess his dad has good looking ears. Can’t say I’ve noticed his dad’s ears. I just know what my husband’s ears look like, because I see them laying on the nightstand, or I get to hold them (and his glasses and hearing aid) when he randomly decides to jump in the lake.
Our Daughter’s Ears
When I was pregnant with our first baby, I asked the ultrasound tech, “does she have cheek bones and ears?” The Tech responded, “yes, and finger and toes.”
“Um I know she has fingers and toes, but my husband, her dad, doesn’t have cheek bones or ears, so can you check and see if she does?”
Then when our daughter was born, my husband said, “she has my ears!” I responded, “what on earth? She actually has ears. Do you mean she has your dad’s ears? Cuz you don’t even know what your ears are supposed to look like.” He answered something to the effect of, “she has my ears, that’s why I don’t have any ears.” Isn’t it so kind of him to give his ears to his daughter?
Growing up, Duane was friends with the bullies, and the cool kids thought he was cool too. Everyone loved him! Why? He had a great sense of humor.
Duane says that everyone gets teased about something, but he had an advantage, because he knew what kids would tease him about (ears/face/hearing aid) and already had a great come-back ready to go. Someone would make a pun, he would respond with a better pun. He would defuse a bully situation by making fun of himself, which made the bully feel uncomfortable and he didn’t know how to respond after that.
Kids don’t know how to act / respond when they see someone who looks different, it’s intimidating. They’ve been taught not to stare. Not to ask questions. So what does that leave? Nothing except to whisper behind their back. That back-fires because people who have prosthetic ears, usually have Bone Anchored Hearing Aids, which work very well. So Duane could take his ears off and still hear better than I can. In fact sometimes, when our kids are whining, he takes his ears off and says, “I can’t hear you.” They respond, “yes you can hear me, Dady, you still have your Baha on!!”
Our response to the FB post
All that leads up to: our response to the previously mentioned post on facebook, people’s comments, and the comments on the comments, and people freaking out about the comments.
Yes. Prosthetic ears are super expensive. No, they do not have serial numbers (but they should, that’s a great idea!).
On one hand, some of the comments are rude and immature. It’s no wonder kids are bullies, they learned it from their parents (the ones who are making mean comments on FB). On the flip side, I’m not surprised when kids who have microtia etc are insecure about their appearance, or get angry when people make comments. They learn that from their parents too.
So please, think about how you respond to comments and stares. Teach your kids to be comfortable and confident in who they are, and learn to have a sense of humor.
And maybe come up with some great puns of your own and practice some responses to defuse the bully situation. Example: I once met a guy who has a crazy looking scar. He says he got bit by a shark. Kid’s eyes get huge. He tells a great story. Then he says, “just kidding, here’s what really happened…” When you are totally comfortable talking about the elephant in the room, that greatly reduces the tension in the air.
Be the one to start the conversation
Usually if I see kids staring, I ask them, “have you seen the movie: Wonder? Duane has the same syndrome as Auggie (the main character)” Thus far, every time, the response is, “no way, that’s so cool!” Personally I wouldn’t say TCS is cool, but it is cool that they think it’s cool. Thank God for “Wonder” and it’s perfect timing, coming out just after the birth of our second daughter, who has TCS, just like her Dada (and Auggie). She is missing a bit of her cheek-bones. When I was pregnant with her, we made sure to pray for ears, at the timing that her ears were growing, and she does have cute little ears (very mild microtia). But we forgot to ask for an ear-drum, so she still needs hearing aids just like her Dada. And I’m learning to be more specific and detailed with prayer requests.
Someday, when the right person asks about my daughter’s hearing aid. I’m going to tell them it’s a child-training tool, and if she mis-behaves, I can shock her… but I don’t want to freak people out. So I’m pretty boring and usually just say “it’s a hearing aid.” Although I have been asked if it’s a bluetooth device. Why on earth would my toddler need that?! She does not have a cell phone yet. But my husband’s Baha does have bluetooth built in, so he really does use it to stream phone calls directly into his head…so “bluetooth” device is a pretty good guess…
Now you’re probably wondering, if Duane can hear without ears, and is totally comfortable making fun of himself, why did he choose to get prosthetic ears? Well, he needed something to hold his glasses on. $10,000, his glasses are looking great. Unless he puts a child on his shoulders, then ears, glasses, hearing aid, it all falls off, like Mr Potato Head….