Excuse Me? Beg Pardon?

Being a parent for the first time is great. Anything you want to know is covered in a book somewhere, and there are answers readily available for any parenting question you may have. Any problem that arises is quickly and easily solved due to all the expertise and information out there.

Just kidding. Being a parent can be scary, and is often confusing and fraught with turmoil–both emotional (did I just condemn my kid to a lifetime of paranoia and therapy visits because I went to pee and left him crying?) and physical (how do I change this little guy’s diaper when he’s pooped all the way up his back [and down my leg])?

At least the doctors are reassuring and give clear, consistent, calming messages. Again, I kid. Here are a couple of examples.

When we were in the hospital with Wolfe, they came in a couple of times to check his hearing. They always conducted this test in another room, from which occasionally we could hear the bleating of goats and smell burning incense. After they consulted the entrails and read the grounds in the bottom of the coffee cups, they told us his right ear was functioning normally. His left ear, however, had not passed. Our son was a failure already, at two days old!

Don’t worry, they said. A lot of times they have fluid still in their ears from being in the uterus. And since he was born via C-section, it was even more likely. Everything’s fine, they said. Statistically, he’ll be ok. (But as I said before, I hate statistics.) However, he would need to come back for a follow-up test to make sure both ears were working.

We asked about what, exactly, the test entailed. Those animal sacrifices we had imagined were not exactly reassuring. We were told the test involved playing a sound and seeing if the baby reacted. The baby had to be calm and quiet, because any sudden movement or loud noise would mess the test up. We imagined the nurse lulling him to sleep and then sneaking up and yelling, “Boogity boo!” to see if it elicited any response.

When my wife called the next week to set up the appointment, there was no receptionist. She left a voicemail and somebody called back to say they would have a receptionist by the end of the month. That person didn’t actually schedule the appointment, though.

In the interest of time, I’ll spare the details of scheduling the appointment, assuring our pediatrician we’d scheduled the appointment, making sure we didn’t actually have two appointments, etc. Suffice it to say, today was the follow-up test.

We went back into a well-lit room with a nice lady who said she was the audiologist. The diploma on the wall was from a school of optometry–not exactly reassuring.

I held Wolfe. She put what was basically an earplug in his ear, attached it to a small handheld machine, and pushed a button. It made a beep. She looked at it and said his hearing was fine.

While I’m glad everything worked out, the final showdown seemed anti-climactic. (Well, except for the fact that this time his right ear didn’t pass. She adjusted the placement of the ear plug, did it again, and everything was fine.) Evidently we misunderstood–or were misled–about the test and what all it involved.

The good news is I now have an extra goat (I bought it just in case), which means less lawn mowing this summer.



  1. Did you really get a goat?

    1. I would like to, but the township frowns on it. I’m getting too old to fight The Man.

      Sent from my iPhone

  2. I want goats and chickens. Free milk and eggs. Maybe that’s why the guvment won’t let you have them.

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