When I met DH, he told me that he had ‘cocktail party deafness’.
This is a form of hearing loss which makes it difficult for people to differentiate between different types of noise in a busy environment. In practical terms, it means that you have trouble hearing what someone is saying when there is music, or other people speaking in the background. It is often blamed on things like listening to loud music, either at gigs or with headphones, or repeated exposure to any kind of loud or sustained noise.
In my DH’s case, he put it down to spending too much time as a teenager listening to a walkman (remember those?). My hearing, however, was excellent. My eyesight may have been genetically faulty, but my hearing was just fine.
Now, 12 years later, DH seems to have adjusted well to parenting with his hearing ‘loss’. He still listens to his music through headphones, which are now connected to an iPod but he’s sensible with the volume. And his ‘deafness’ doesn’t seem to have progressed.
I, on the other hand, seem to be losing my hearing. I can no longer hear the kids talking to me if they walk in front of or behind me. They have to walk right beside me and it helps if they look at me while they are speaking. I can’t hear well if people are yelling at me from another room, or if we are somewhere there is a lot of background noise. I was hopeless during the Friday night’s drinks at Brit Mums; I could see people’s lips moving and hear vague sounds coming from their direction, but could not make out a word they were saying.
So why is my selective hearing so bad? At 42, I’m hardly old enough to put it down to age related loss. I don’t listen to much music, and hardly ever with headphones, and I haven’t been to a music concert in years.
But what I am is exposed to, on a daily basis is this.
Children yelling and screaming. I probably have one of them yell at full volume quite close to my ears at least once or twice a day. None of my kids seem to have a volume control attached; if they want to yell, it’s always as loud as possible.
Just yesterday DS had a tantrum about having the ‘wrong jacket’ on and howled noisily as I tried to work out what he needed. DS makes a lot of screaming noises as he finds it hard to find the right words a lot of the time.
Then DD3 got into a fight with DD1, walked into the room quietly enough, came to a stop behind me, then opened her mouth and screamed. I whipped around, furious. We have a rule not to use our voices as weapons and at that proximity I felt like I had been slapped. My ear was still ringing hours later.
Finally, DD2 got upset after her piano lesson and screamed all the way home in the car. I find yelling in the car especially intolerable to be honest. Sometimes I feel quite suffocated by it and I suspect it’s responsible to doing most of the damage to my hearing.
It’s no wonder I can feel my hearing slipping away on a daily basis!
Do you have a problem with your hearing? Do you think your kids have contributed to it? And how do you handle it when you are screamed at by them?
I find yelling back at them doesn’t help at all *blush*.