The earliest memory I have of my youth or should I say toddlerhood was one that I can now laugh at today. We all know toddlers or even kids, in general, can come up with some whopper fish type stories. With this in mind let us take a trip down my memory lane.
Ba-dum Ba-dum Ba-dum Ba-dum-tsh, Ba-dum Ba-dum Ba-dum Ba-dum-tsh
The sound played over and over in her tiny ears as she tried so hard to fall asleep. It was the only clear sound she could hear. All of the rest of the worldly sounds were jumbled and muffled. Her parents had no clue she could not hear them as they called out to her, getting upset thinking she was ignoring them when they spoke. Calling her an unruly or obstinate child. Often putting her to bed early for disobeying.
Tonight like many others, the moon light shown through the slit in the curtains giving off the faintest glow in the room. Enough to cast bouncing shadows here and there. Eyes darting from one to the other as they seemed to dance to the beat of her heart sounding off strong and rhythmically in her ears.
Shaking, her tiny hands pulled the covers up just enough so that all that was left peeking out was her perk little nose and frightened blue eyes. She had developed a routine of squeezing her eye lids shut as hard as she could until she could no longer stand the sound drumming in her ears. Then open them just enough to peer out at the dancing, bouncing shadows on the walls and ceiling until they looked like they were going to jump out and attack her at any moment. Then squeezing her eyes shut once again.
This push and pull tug-o-war, open and shut battle would go on and on well into the night until she would finally tire and fall asleep. But this would not be the end, a restful sleep would not come. The beating in her ears continued and the shadows turned into little drummer boys, who turned into big drummer boys in a marching band. Stepping in the perfect rhythm to her tiny beating heart.
They marched through the night first down the street, up into her front yard and into her window one by one stepping through the curtain with the moon light. Once inside her room, they would reform and circle her bed as if in a conga line getting closer and closer until they picked her up to carry her away. She would scream and wake pouring in sweat and tears.
Her mother rushing in to calm her would ask what was wrong. She knew her momma was speaking but could not hear the words. Trying so hard to explain, “the drummers are coming, the drummers are coming” she would mumble incoherent words her mother could not understand.
This situation repeated every night for years on end. I was not always put to bed early but it became very taxing on myself and my parents. Finally, I am not sure what age I was but my mom had had enough and at our next doctor’s visit, she mentioned to the doctor that I was still not talking properly and was continually ignoring them. The doctor did some minor hearing tests that day. Coming to the conclusion that further, more in-depth testing was necessary, he sent me to a specialist.
After all of the testing was complete my mother was told I would need several surgeries to restore partial hearing, but I was by all rights born deaf. Of course, my mother felt horrible about this new turn of events and doated on me for a long time to cure her guilt at having thought I was just a wayward child.
I did recover 80% of my hearing after 3 surgeries but always had times when I could hear the Ba-dum Ba-dum Ba-dum Ba-dum-tsh of my heart beating in my ears. Even still today I have that old familiar sound quite often.
I say I can laugh at this story now because of the way I related to that beating heart sound in my ears as a young kid. For years I could not watch The Little Drummer Boy, I hated marching bands and shadows came to life in an effort to kidnap me away from my parents. In the famous words of my tiny mind, “The drummers are coming, the drummers are coming.”
I now love the sound of drums and shadows fascinate me to no end. However, I still cannot watch The Little Drummer Boy all the way through. I am once in a while annoyed at how loud I speak in an effort to ‘hear’ myself and at the drumming heart beat in my ears. At the same time, I am thankful that I was very lucky to recover any hearing at all and my fate was not sealed to listen to ONLY that beating drum sound of my heart.