Emily Howlett’s Diary of a Deaf Mum: The horror of nursery

Posted on January 24, 2014



It’s one of those things it’s best not to think about. Apparently. But it’s one of those things that gets worse as time goes on, too.

Rather like vaccinations; when you take your teeny, tiny baby to be jabbed with a needle, it basically kills you. Once the doctor has had your weeping, broken remains removed from his office, and you realise that baby didn’t really notice, you pretty much get over it instantly.

Then, before you know it, baby is now a toddler, so much more aware of the world, and you need to take them back to be jabbed again. Only this time, they know what’s happening and, although toddlers are blessed with goldfish memories, parents are not.

You might deduce from this that my general approach to the less beautiful aspects of parenting is to ignore them.

That’s not true; although it is my approach to massive, stinking nappies when Daddy will be home in just another ten minutes… Five minutes… Two minutes… Oh, man, what did you eat today?… One minute… HELLO DADDY, HERE’S YOUR BABY, I’M GOING FOR A BATH.

But, the important, horrible stuff – I deal with it. I really might not want to, but it’s part of having a small person, rather than just a baby, that you have to face up to them growing up. I make it sound like he’s leaving me to go to University already, don’t I? None of that. Shush. I’m having enough trouble with the latest advances…

Yep. It’s time to find… A DECENT NURSERY. I think it would probably be significantly easier to find Shergar, or diamonds in the soft play sandpit. It would be an utter breeze to discover the source of the Nile, rather than a fully-equipped, ultra-qualified, OFSTED-adored nursery that can actually cope with… (ominous music)… a deaf family.

One of my first phone calls was to arrange a visit to our most local, most recommended baby-hotel. This was done using Text Direct, which isn’t always the most effective, but seemed to work quite well on this occasion. Unlike the actual conversation. I spent the first five minutes explaining that it was only Mummy who was deaf, not baby, but I would want them to contact me, by text, rather than phoning other hearing members of the family.

“I don’t think we have that in place.” How can you not have that in place? “We don’t have a mobile phone.” Everyone has a mobile phone, it ain’t 1952. “We don’t have a secure one.” I’m not going to be texting you Governmental secrets….

Moving on. The next victims.

Do you have experiences of deaf families? “We used to.” Used to? You either have experience or you don’t. “We had a little boy, but he’s gone now.” That sounds ominous. “Gone to school. His mum was deaf.” How did you communicate with her?” We wrote stuff down in a special book.” Bloody hell, it IS 1952. “I can tell you his name, you might know him.” No, please don’t.

A third attempt…

Can I arrange a visit to see you? “Sure, can you do next Monday morning?” Can I just check with my interpreter and call you back? “Oh, you need an interpreter?” Yes. For sign language. “OK, we’re kind of booked up this month, but call back after that.” Oh, ok, it ain’t 1952, it’s the bloody Stone Age…

I should end on the positive note that, since I started the soul-destroying process of trying to find somewhere I would feel comfortable leaving my most precious boy for a few hours, I have found two wonderful places. The staff are warm and caring, and the buildings are colourful and alive with laughter and learning, just like some awful, cheesy musical.

But I don’t want to. I want to hold on to my anger and frustration at the first bunch of idiots, and forget that I found a couple of nice places. Then I can’t send him anywhere, and he has to stay at home with me forever. In fact, I’m off to buy an apron, with extra-long strings to capture him in. If he will insist on growing up, it will have to be on Mummy’s terms.

Or I’ll take him back for more injections.

Emily Howlett is a Contributing Editor to this site. She is a profoundly Deaf actress, writer, horsewoman and new mum. Emily used to be found all over the place, but motherhood has turned her into somewhat of a self-confessed homebody. She now has not one, but four grey eyebrow hairs. C’est la vie. She tweets as @ehowlett

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