Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The luckiest girl in the world

Let's Hear It For Almigal was a surprise in yesterday's mail. I'd forgotten it was coming which makes my life a bit like multiple Christmas mornings. I quickly remembered that I could have been anticipating a present in the mail and flipped the book open to read the story of a little girl with "cotton-candy pink" cochlear implants.

The story starts with the girl using pink hearing aids. I'm confused.

Several pages later, Almigal can't hear well with her hearing aids. I am reading my nightmare. Her doctor suggests cochlear implants.

I snap the book shut. This is too much like our ENT, Dr. C.'s, terrifying reassurance that my daughter would be a good candidate for cochlear implants if her hearing loss progresses. It's something I don't like to think about.

I spent a good bit of time yesterday avoiding the book, but it is beautifully illustrated and cotton candy pink. Julia wanted to read it together after school.

"Hi, my name is Almigal," it begins.

"That's a funny name," says Julia.

"Yeah," I say.

"And I am absolutely, positively the luckiest girl in the world," the book continues.

"No she's not," Julia interjects. "I am."

We read the whole book, Julia arguing that she is the "luckiest girl in the world" even though Almigal seems to think the same thing. Julia agreeing that "sign language is supremely awesome." Julia identifying with Almigal to a point.

I was a bit relieved to read that Almigal thought the cochlear implant surgery was "a piece of cake."

Let's Hear It For Almigal is a lovely story, well written and beautifully illustrated. It made me feel calm (for a moment) thinking about something that usually fills me with anxiety. And it reinforced my hypothesis that these books are just as useful for parents as they are for kids.

We all need a gentle, brightly illustrated reminder to embrace each others differences. In fact, I might start carrying a few of these books around with me. These authors do a better job explaining hearing loss than what I come up with when put on the spot by another Mom. Imagine the convenience of having Oliver and Almigal doing all of the explaining!

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