by Rebecca J on 2012-10-30

For listening practice tonight, William and I picked a page from a Baby Einstein book with pictures of fruits: apple, watermelon, banana, grapes, orange, and blueberries. We fancied it up a bit by having me listen to try to guess which word he was saying.

“Grapes” was the clearest word, and I guessed that one correctly most of the time.

“Watermelon” and “banana” were hard to distinguish, but I could sometimes tell that there were three syllables in the word.

“Orange” was tricky. Too tricky. I often mistook “orange” for “banana” inexplicably.

“Apple” never sounded right. Every time William said, “Apple,” I heard, “Lemon.” Every single time. “Lemon” wasnʼt even an option! After enough of that, I explained to William what was going on, and he said, “Thatʼs crazy.” And I said, “Because they sound so different to you? And they sound exactly the same to me.” Then I started to cry, and practice was over.

It is so obvious that I have overcompensated for my hearing loss by developing alternate listening strategies: lip-reading, trying to guess the context of a conversation based on the words that I can pick out, observing body language. I think that these strategies will come in handy, and I donʼt plan to jettison lip-reading any time soon, because that tends to impress people a lot. But learning how to listen, without any external cues, is almost impossible.