Monday, September 10, 2012

Pitch Discrimination and Silly Shoes

Well, kindergarten is up and running.  Ben's first day was a moderate success.  He was nervous but excited in the morning, worried we would be late.  He had a big smile as we walked into the classroom.  Me, I was feeling a little frazzled -- still recovering from the trauma of a new morning routine, an alarm clock set 15 minutes earlier, and the total mayhem that was the elementary school parking lot.  While I'm helping Ben find his place and put away his things, a staff person pulls me out of the classroom to discuss some concerns she has with the gym teacher using the FM, and then somehow this morphs into the question of whether the CI itself will be adequately protected during gym (what do they do in there -- professional wrestling?!?), and I'm trying to figure out what the heck she's getting at, does she want him not to wear the CI during gym, cause that's not gonna happen; it's not just expensive bling, folks, it's how he hears?!? -- and then poor Ben, who has no idea where I am and figures I've left without saying good-bye, comes running out of the classroom in tears.  Staff Person is still Expressing Concerns while I'm trying to calm Ben down, until finally I put my foot down and say that I needed to attend to my child, thank you.

I took him back into the classroom, comforted him, got him interested in a book, and things were on the mend.  But he was still crying as he waved good-bye.  That was not how I wanted his first day of kindergarten to start.

Fortunately, the Special Ed Director (and I'm getting to like her more and more!) e-mailed me during the day to say that she'd checked on him during lunch and he seemed to be in good spirits.  And a friend who volunteers in the cafeteria sent me a similar message.  When I picked him up that afternoon, he was a little stand-offish at first, as if he was still reeling from the ordeal of the day, but a quick trip to the ice cream parlor put things to rights.

The next day he didn't have school -- they do a staggered start to kindergarten, half the kids one day and the other half the next.  So his next day of school was Thursday.  Everything went so much better.  Thursday and Friday were great.  According to Ben, the gym teacher is indeed using the FM, and (of greater importance) is very funny and wears silly shoes -- a different color every day.  (We met him on the way in to school on Thursday; pink Converses.)

In piano news, Ben is reading music!  Still a bit of a slow chore for him, and he doesn't know every note on the staff, but he's getting better with practice.  So he now tends to look up at the book while playing, rather than down at his fingers.  Now, here's the really cool part:  He can tell, just from the sound, whether he's played a wrong note!  Meaning that he can totally tell the difference between adjacent notes on the keyboard just by sound, and he has enough auditory memory to know when the pitch he hears doesn't match the one he remembers!  This is a very natural and common phenomenon for people who hear normally.  It is an unexpected and miraculous one for someone who hears through a CI.  One of the phrases that rings through my mind on a regular basis is "There was a time..."  As in, there was a time when I thought that music would forever be a closed book for him, or a mystery, or at best something that brings a bit of pleasure but that he would have a very hard time creating for himself.  There was a time....


Madeline said...

Yay Ben!! That's so exciting that he's building up his musical ear! And I'm glad he's enjoying kindergarten now. We do a staggered start for the kids too, which is really more of a hassle than anything else. My boss says it's been handled differently each of the 13 years she's worked at our school. But we're off and running now too. My schedule has changed, and I'm now the aide in our "extended day kindergarten" (class for kids who stay at school all day) program, and we have one little boy who reminds me so much of Ben. Today he was reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar aloud to himself...getting the gist of the story but putting his own spin on it because he's clearly heard it so many times. :)

Melanie said...

That is truly amazing. And I am so glad school is going well!

Elsie Hickey Wilson said...

Marvelous! Go, Ben, go!
Enjoy Kindergarten and playing piano!
A gym teacher with silly cool!
Love, Grammy Wilson

Bobby Winters said...

Ice cream is magical. We are lucky it's not given out only by prescription.

Susannah said...

behold the power of ice cream. :) and behold the power of hearing technology!! that is pretty miraculous/amazing.