17 September 2009

Smell No Evil?

(The letter combination "ea" in phonics is tricky. Sneaky is what Ada Brooks calls it. Why? Because ea can say long e (eat), short e (bread), or even, and get ready for it, you didn't even know the third one because you don't have to think about reading anymore- you just do it. Ready? long a - as in great, break, steak.)

Yes, I did just start a blog post with a long parenthetical. Blogging is a relatively new genre, so there are no MLA rules yet, not to mention, "I do what I want." (yes, i did just reference south park, a show i've never watched even an episode of, but, the culture imbues what it will, now doesn't it?) (And yes, there was a hint of snobbery in my 'never watched southpark' comment - I'm working on it - i promise...)

Ada Brooks was studying the "ea" letter combination today. She was reading down a list of words that had examples of all three potential sounds in it - and she was supposed to be practicing testing one sound, realizing it doesn't work, so trying a new one. Example: deaf. There is no word pronounced "deef," so Ada was supposed to try out the short e and realize, "ah - clearly they meant "def" not "deef" - but - my sweet child didn't know the word deaf.

Probably because we are homeschooling her, don't ya think? All other five year olds know that word, I'm almost positive. Throwing my hands up and calling the public school to register her right now.

So Paul, who gets to help teach Ada Brooks on Thursday mornings because he is out of school, explained to her what deaf meant.

Canceling phone call to local public school.

And she said "oh - yeah - i get it - like blind ears"

Exactly, Ada Bee - blind ears.

It got me thinking though - we happen to have a word for blind ears - deaf - with the short e sound of the tricky letter combo ea -
But we don't have a word for blindness of many other things.

Like Social Blindness. You know - those people - who, for various reasons, don't know what to do in common social situations. You're looking at them thinking, "that was the end of the conversation - please just walk away" or "no, poor dear, its not a good time to bring up that topic" or "no one ever wants you to tell us what you just noticed while sitting on a commode"

Things like that.

Or Empathy Blindness. Those people who, for various reasons, don't empathize with anyone. And you listen to them and wonder what it must be like to really not get that everyone doesn't experience life in the same way that they do. And you want to say, "yes, i understand that's your position, but she is from another country, and that means she has a different perspective, you unfortunate soul, you."

Or at least that's what I want to say.

Or just simple Nose Blindness. My sweet husband must be legally nose-blind. He cannot smell or taste very well at all.

I was thinking if we had names for these, we might do a better job empathizing ourselves.

We don't blame the blind man for running into things.
(Let's all take a moment to laugh about Maggie Lizer on Arrested Development - and if you've never watched The Best Television Sitcom of All Time, then please rectify soon. To assist in your enjoyable recall moment, I've included a photo:


We aren't angry at the deaf man not hearing us when we say 'excuse me'

But we sure are irritated at our encounters with the Socially Blind, the Empathy Blind, and for me who tries to make yummy meals and gets no comment because my husband CANNOT TASTE ANYTHING, the Nose Blind.

I have a dear friend whose mother always tells her to judge people by what they know. Meaning that we should hold people who've been taught well, loved much, etc. to a much higher standard than we hold those who haven't been afforded such advantages. (Or who didn't breathe properly until his wife made him have his septum fixed at the age of 22)

I think this idea that some people are as blind to social cues and compassion as maggie lizer was to the book flying at her head (actually, she wasn't blind really, so that harms the analogy, but bear with me...) is the same as recognizing that judging people by what they know is fair (and freeing) way to go about life.

So, for the little boy who grew up homeschooled with the denim-jumper-wearing-mom out on the farm somewhere, we can cringe at his awkward moments, but lets not be mad. Or at the poor soul whose father criticized everything he ever did, never once understanding him as a child, we should gently try to teach some empathy, but not forever write him off as unkind.

And maybe, just maybe, I should let it roll off my back when Paul doesn't taste a difference between Chocolate Chess Pie and Chocolate Almond Chess Pie. Or even be thankful that he doesn't taste the difference between Perfectly Toasted Bread and Toasted Bread Left In The Oven 43 Seconds Too Long.

I know that I remain blind to much.

( Wait....maybe, today, I actually have reached the pinnacle of omniscience and really sheer perfection... nah - not quite there. Dammit. )

I just hope that people will understand many of my imperfections as blindness, rather than willful wrongheadedness.

Also, Paul would like to make a motion that we call Merriam-Webster and see if they'll change the definition of "deaf" to "you know, like blind ears."

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog posts (and your long opening parentheticals and the fact that I'm not the only one who ponders the MLA rules (or lack thereof) of blogging)! I miss you!

    p.s. Just fyi, "nose blindness" is called "anosmia" ;-) I'd like to say I'm really smart and know my medical terms for some reason other than an episode of Scrubs...but that is, in fact, the actual medical terminology.