Sunday, September 14, 2008

Score One for the Supermom!

A few months ago, we started the process of signing the Beast up to play soccer. Number One started when he was four, but the Beast seemed a little more clutzy than him, so we waited. Normally, you'd just sign your kid up and enjoy the games. But, I wanted to make sure all my t's were crossed and my i's were dotted in terms of letting him wear his processor and hearing aid.

I started by finding out what the rules were on such a thing. I knew they were weird about jewelry and didn't know where this would fall. Turns out, no one seemed to know anything about hearing devices. There were no rules, so they apparently decided to make some up. At first, it was just that we had to give him a sweat band to make sure nothing flew off his head and injured another child. You know, because we read in the news all the time about kids at soccer games being blinded by flying hearing aids. Then, it came to them telling me they'd need a note from the doctor who implanted him stating that there were no safety risks. Interesting. Last I checked, a medical release wasn't necessary for kids with asthma or other health issues. Not wanting to rock the boat, I complied, and got the letter. I also had to put in writing that I wouldn't hold them responsible if the processor or aid got broken during a game. Those things are pricey, so I could see their concern there. I put it in writing for them.

I made sure I made it very easy for the head of the soccer association to communicate with me regarding this issue. I even made sure I told him that he could call me when it came time to make decisions about hearing devices or when they were training referees on what to allow in the games. I said I'd bring the Beast and all his equipment and meet him anywhere anytime to go over this with him. It's important to me that we set our kids up for success rather than failure.

I mentioned that he has an FM system that would allow the coach to wear a small microphone around his neck, and the coach's voice would go straight to the Beast's ear with a radio wave. His response: Well, maybe you can wear the microphone, but the coach wearing it puts the Beast at an unfair advantage. Ummm....what??!! I was clear that, even with his equipment, his hearing is poor. When you add in the background noise and cheering and wind, we're lucky if he has a clue in the world what is happening. How on earth would this put him at an unfair advantage. He explained that we had to consider what other parents might say. I'd like to be there when some parent at a four year old soccer game yells out, "Hey, Ref!! That Deaf kid over there who can barely hear anything in the first place has an unfair advantage over my kid! Throw him out of the game!"

Anyway, I was willing to compromise on the FM and just see how things played out. I thought we had everything squared away when it was brought to my attention that the refs had had their training session and were instructed that the Beast could wear his equipment, but every piece of it had to be fully padded. This is the part where my head exploded slightly. When were they going to tell me this??!?!?! Did they just plan on kicking him out of the game once he got there? I went nuts.

I spoke with two people who are higher up in our local league jurisdiction. They pointed out that kids with casts on their arms have to bubble wrap them and then put material over that. That's very nice, but a hearing aid is hardly the same size and weight as a cast, and an arm goes flying all over the place while kids are playing. How many ears do you see flying all over the place on the soccer field. I looked them straight in the eye and told them they were welcome to bubble wrap my kid's head if they honestly thought that was the best solution. Then it was suggested that maybe we should just take off all his equipment and let him learn to use his instincts since such a big part of soccer is instinctive. Those of you who have met the Beast will know that it's a bad idea to leave him to his instincts. He'll be peeing on the field, picking up rocks, and asking girls out on dates to his mom's house for beenie weenies. NOT an okay situation. I suggested that we make it fair for everyone. Let's put earplugs in the refs' ears and let them use their instincts, too. Shockingly, they didn't think that was such a hot idea.

I did get creative with the help of some friends, and was able to pad his equipemnt, but he was miserable with it. It was bulky and uncomfortbale. Besides, I was beyond livid, and determined to find a loop hole in these stupid rules. But where? I was talking to my friend, Danelle, on the phone and she pointed out that she'd seen kids with glasses playing all the time with no special padding or straps to hold them on. What?!?!?! Surely those kids had to jump through hoops to make it happen, too, right? I had to find out the rule on it.

Number One's coach happens to be the head of our city's jurisdiction and kindly brought him home from practice the other day. When he dropped him off, in inquired about the rules for kids with glasses. Thinking that I was referring to Snort, he said "A kid's gotta' see. There are no rules." I didn't say a word, but just looked at him. Then his lightbulb came on. "Ooooooh! I see where you're going with this." I let him know he could tell the head of the soccer league that he'd be hearing from me the next morning.

The first thing I did the next morning was to track down the cell phone number of the man in charge. No more e-mail. This man was going to talk to me like it or not. I told him we'd gotten the padding, but it was uncomfortable. Then, I brought up the glasses. I was polite, but made sure I gave him no outlets. He stuttered, came up with excuses, and whatever else he could. I had an answer for everything. I reminded him that I'd offered to come show him what we were dealing with, but never got the call. He told me he was concerned about safety for the Beast. I asked if he'd received the letter because I made plenty of copies. He backed off and said he had it, and it should do. So, I asked bluntly "What is the problem here? Why do kids with glasses, which can shatter and take an eye out, have more rights than my kid who just wants to wear a little hearing aid and processor?"

He replied, "This is new to us. We just don't know what we're dealing with." Ummmm, I think I made clear that I would answer any and all questions. Instead of asking, those people just assumed, and it was at the expense of my kid. NO WAY!!! Finally, he relented. "Okay, but I need to see them before he can play. Once we okay this, it puts a stamp of approval on hearing aids and processor for all kids wanting to play soccer in our state." I was ecstatic!!! Not only can I make it better for my kid, I can make it right for all of them. Then he said he wasn't available to see us on game day. My response: "Fine. Where will you be tonight?" Coincidentally, he was going to be in town handing out uniforms at the park. I told him I'd be there. And I was.

I had to wait nearly an hour for him to finish with the uniforms, but it was worth the wait. In less than five minutes of meeting me and the Beast and looking at his equipment he said, "Oh! This is small. Looks just fine to me. I'll e-maill all refs. tonight and let them know he just needs a sweatband to hold it on. No padding needed." WAHOOOOO!!!!!!!

Never again will a kid in our state who wants to play soccer in a town league have to get a letter from a surgeon, sign silly releases, wear bubble wrap, or go without hearing. They just need a sweatband and a soccer ball, just like all the other kids. And that, my friends, is just how it should be.

4 comments:

~e said...

YOU are AWESOME!

MarLin said...

A simple and brilliant observation made by your friend!!! :) So happy things were finally realized and the games can begin!

Lindy

Meemer said...

you pretty much rock!! thanks for being such a great mom.

elizabeth said...

This is a great blog! I hope you'll consider adding it to the aggregator at Deaf Village (www.deafvillage.com) -- we'd love to have you as part of our community!