Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Benny van B

A month or so ago, Ben's paternal grandparents sent him this great book called My First Classical Music Book, by Genevieve Helsby.  Ben loves it, and it has become de rigueur bedtime reading.  He's been working on his pronunciation of the names of Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky, and he pretty much nails them both now.

It's a wonderful book.  There's just one thing I don't like about it.  I quote from page 26:  "Poor Beethoven even went deaf ... but he still composed music!"  Yeah.  Poor guy, he went deaf.  Sucks to be deaf, don't it?  Now, the thing is, going deaf was indeed a hardship and a tragedy for Beethoven, for all sorts of obvious reasons.  And even today, when life is so dramatically different in almost all respects for people with hearing loss, it's still often a hardship.  [We're having earmold issues.  Even with the best technology, living with hearing loss can be a real PITA sometimes.]  But it's most definitely not a tragedy, and it stings a bit to be reminded that the automatic reaction to deafness is pity -- "poor deaf kid."  Kindness, consideration, sometimes a little accommodation, but not pity, thank you very much.  In any case, I'm not comfortable reading that line to Ben -- or at least I leave out the "poor" part.  I guess it's fortunate that we usually look at that book after his equipment is out, which effectively dodges the issue, at least until he learns to read.

But that's my only complaint -- really, it's a great book, and I highly recommend it.

And that's the history behind the following exchange with Ben as I picked him up from school today:

Ben:  I'm deaf!
Me:  Yes, you are!
Ben:  I'm not wearing any hearing equipment.
Me:  [looking with some confusion at his equipment] Really?  Then how can you hear me?
Ben:  I'm listening through a speaking trumpet!

He went on to insist that I call him Beethoven all afternoon, and when we got to page 26 of the book this evening, he said, "This is my page!"

Cool speaking trumpet!

From later in the same book.  Ben named this character Yo Yo Giraffe.


dlefler said...

I'd leave out the "poor" part, too - we have a book about a little boy who received hearing aids, and I don't like the way it begins. "I talked weird, so my mom took me to the doctor." I don't like the use of the word "weird" and I don't want to put negative ideas into Nolan's head regarding the way people speak.

The book is very cool, though - it must be hilarious to hear Ben say Tchaikovsky!

krlr said...

I edit all the time. Kids' books tend to use "stupid" more than my preferred insults, like [edited for content].

I think it's kind of awesome, given Ben's love of music, that he has this renowned role model w/similiar challenges. Is that too disney-fied? Maybe I'm just feeling mushy these days.

Elsie Hickey Wilson said...

So he's Beethoven now! One of the Beatles one day, Bjorn from ABA then next!

For the present I'd leave out the work poor, too.
When I was teaching, so often the word "stupid" would come up by the kids about themselves or about other kids etc. I had a plastic version of Dumbo the elephant and we called him "Smartbo" because it might hurt his feelings to be called "dumb" (which was forbidden word in my class). The kids loved it.
Ben is such a good guy about discussing things and trying to make sense of whatever. And deciding just what to omit and avoid at what age is good.
Loved the page about the Cello and the Yo-Yo Giraffe!
Love, Grammy Wilson