Selective Hearing

I am deaf.

Last week, I was in the supermarket getting some things for work. I heard this incessant sound ‘mummy, mummy, mummy’. To be honest, at first I didn’t hear it (you know like a sound that you suddenly realize is very irritating 3 hours after you start hearing it- like a broken radio or a creaking swing). That child must have called their mother 20 times before the sound stopped. It was the most annoying sound in the world. I turned to give said mother a ‘handle your business’ look, when I remembered my life. I had to laugh.

I do not hear my child.

I’m not sure if you could technically say I am ignoring her. I just kind of move on. I pretend she is not there (not in a bad way, don’t look at me like that). The thing is, she calls my name 3000 times a day!

Even when she’s in the middle of a sentence, she’ll still find a way to call my name. Sometimes, she starts to tell me a story, and I’m going ‘uhum. Really?’ and she’ll think I’m not listening (mostly because she’s the one who has lost focus) and turn and say, ‘mama’.

Sometimes, we’ll be watching cartoons and she’ll point at Tom and Jerry and say, ‘mama, ne, Ninja’ (look, Ninja- Ninja is our cat and every cat in the world, apparently). And I’ll respond with ‘mano pussycat, ok en Ninja’ (that’s a pussycat, not Ninja) and she’ll ask,

‘Mama, badat?’


‘Mama, badat?’ (Pointing now)

‘Yes, girl’

‘Mama, badat’ (Happily now, celebrating that she got it right)

‘Yes, pussycat. Ok shhhhhhh’


What is it about mothers that makes us have selective hearing?

Well, I have found it is one of two things:

  1. To stay alive and human, I have to be able to tune off. Or else, my brain will blow up. Sometimes Kendi will be calling my name for the 20th time and I am (again) pretending I’m a cactus, and someone will say ‘Kitt, Kendi is calling you’. I will usually turn and give the person my best, ‘I will kill you’ look and turn to my child, ‘antie‘ (I’m here), only to be told ‘ne, ne (look, look) at the dress she is wearing. AGAIN. ‘Wow’ I will repeat, because I am genuinely awed that someone can have that short of a memory.
  2. I genuinely cannot hear her. The thing is, your brain adjusts to noises in your environment. And if one of those sounds is a constant ‘mama, mama’, chances are everyone else will hear your child, but you.

Take for example, the occasional times that Kendi throws a tantrum and is just whining and nagging and driving me up the wall (which, to be fair, is an almost every day occurrence these ‘terrible two’ days), I try to ignore her. It becomes an irritating sound in the background that I can live with it. Then, I quickly realize that others can’t. ‘Others’ are literally running mad. It’s not a sound they are used to. It’s not a familiar background noise. They ‘hum’ and ‘umpf’ and because that is not a sound I am used to, it usually gets my attention real quick.

And restores my hearing.


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