When I was a young girl, I used to be partially deaf in one ear. I didn’t know that of course, but everyone else did.
My siblings knew because they would whisper to me when I wasn’t looking and see how long it took to get my attention. Finally, my mother, having given up on my siblings’ rudimentary way of testing, confirmed the diagnosis in a dim and humid doctor’s clinic. I was ten years old.
My mother at the time, bless her, had no idea that I would eventually end up living with four boys and that being partially deaf in one ear may actually be a good thing.
Because living with boys as anyone will tell you, is noisy. Doors don’t close, they bang. They don’t unlock, they’re wrenched open. Conversations are not had, they’re shouted across rooms and corridors. My boys are teenagers now, so they’re quite hormonal and so there’s a lot of shouting and screaming going on.
Then there are the musical instruments of course. The piano, played only with the foot constantly to the pedal, and the bass. And the drums. The drums played without the silencing pads.
And the music that stays on long after the premises have been vacated. Music is always in the background.
Boys also like to watch noisy things: a football match with all the cacophony of the stadium, action movies with long car chases and noisy exhausts, war movies. All with the volume pitched high.
And then there’s Big Boy Number One, of course. My husband loves to watch replays of football matches he’s already seen a couple of times already. If his favored team had actually won, I get treated to replays and commentary on television, tablet, phone…Location doesn’t matter either: bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, living room…it all works. This doesn’t bother me, I have to admit, except when I’m trying to read or I’m concentrating on something else, happily and quietly in my bed, in which case the commentary becomes quite a distraction.
Especially if it’s in German.
(Neither my husband nor I speak or understand German.)
And here’s an observation I made the other day. Boys don’t notice when a sound is too high, only when it’s too low. My eldest son recently joined the school choir and we were, naturally, invited to watch his first concert. It was really great to go and watch his lips move.
“How did you like it?” he asked me hopefully at the end.
“I liked it a lot though I would have liked it even more if I had heard you,” I replied, “your father was complaining that he couldn’t hear you at all! You sing louder than that when you sing alone at home,” I tried, wanting to offer one positive-sounding comment at least.
“Yes well, we were asked to keep it soft and melodious,” he explained.
“Well maybe that’s the problem,” I said. “Next time keep it loud…and try singing in German.”