A Night in the Life of Our Family

Kyersten is a guest writer on Hearing Elmo and does a fantastic job (in THIS mom’s opinion) of relating what it is like being a CODA (child of deaf adult) or as she prefers it: KODA (Kid of deaf adult).  I think it’s important that readers “hear” the OTHER opinions and thoughts about how deafness affects a family.  Sometimes those thoughts are sad.  Sometimes those thoughts are angry.  And sometimes?  Sometimes it’s just really funny…

It was very impressive.

We watched as mom sailed over the gate. She flew gracefully in the air and landed rather ungracefully on the ground.

It’s not the fall that hurts, it’s the landing.

There was silence.

This is what she looked like:

Chloe, half asleep, sat up on the couch and peered down at Mom. This is what Chloe looked like:

(… well what she’d look like if she were a cat)

Mom said “ow”.

Chris stifled a laugh, quickly changing his face to the look of a concerned son.

I expressed casual worry, “You okay, Mom?”

Dad asked what happened, unfortunately having missed the dramatic gliding over the gate.

While worried about her, we were starting to get used to her lying on the floor, embarrassed and dazed.

Dad went to help her up. They looked for serious injuries. He helped her back to the couch.

And so we resumed our evening.

Kyersten is eighteen years old and lives with her dad, late-deafened mom, and 6’3″ “baby” brother in Maryland.  To leave out mention of the menagerie of animals living there as well would be… wise – as she wanted this short.

Denise Portis

© 2008 Hearing Loss Journal

Parking Lot Adventure

Mom and I came out of the pet store with two huge dog food bags, a huge bag of litter, and three new litterboxes. It was starting to sprinkle rain, so Mom took her “ears” (her cochlear implant and hearing aid), out and carefully stored them in her purse. We made a plan: she and Chloe would make a break to the van and open it.  I would push the heavy cart to the van. Sounds deceptively simple right?

Mom and Chloe ran out into the rain. I pushed the cart and ran into the parking lot… in front of a car (don’t worry, they had stopped for me).  Suddenly, the three litterboxes fell from my cart, into the exact middle of the road.

Uh oh! MOM! THEY FELL! COME BACK!!!” I yelled, momentarily forgetting Mom couldn’t hear me without her “ears”. She continued to run into the distance. A woman standing on the sidewalk stared after her.

Yeah! YOU GO GET THE CAR, I’LL STAY HERE!!” I yelled, as if that was our plan all along… in case anyone thought my mom had abandoned me… to be hit by a car… as I dragged my litterboxes and cart to the sidewalk.

Well, technically she had!  But… she didn’t mean to. I am a CODA – child of a deaf adult – and I was used to having to say, “Oh, she can’t hear me, I’m on my own for this one.”

Mom turned around when she reached the car and realized what happened. She stored Chloe in the van and raced back to help me.

I was howling with laughter at this point. I have a strange sense of humor.

Mom was laughing too. I probably looked ridiculous trying to drag everything out of the way. And so we laughed  in the rain, as we smiled apologies to cars and people.  We finally dragged our cartload to the van.

“What are you – deaf??” I teased when we reached the van.

Being a CODA has taught me a certain level of independence, learning to think for myself. When household accidents, parking lot accidents, losing someone in a store, etc. happen, I learned to calmly handle the situation myself or to walk to my mom. I can’t always call for my mommy…she can’t hear me. It’s something I learned and accepted.

Just like I know I can’t stand behind my mom and talk to her. Because 99% of the time, after pouring my heart out to her back, she’ll turn around and give a piercing scream, all because she didn’t know I was there!

Having a mom with a hearing loss isn’t a trial, it’s just different. My brother and I adjusted just like my mom had to adjust to her hearing loss. It affects the whole family, but it doesn’t have to be negative. We adapt and change along with her.

And it does give us extremely amusing moments…or extremely scary, because having your mom scream loudly when she turns to see you usually causes you to scream in return. Trust me. Ask Chloe.

Kyersten Portis


Kyersten’s mom lost her hearing when Kyersten was only two-years-old.  Kyersten has only known her “mom” as a person with hearing loss.  Kyersten and her family live in Maryland with a menagerie of animals.