Isaac, Isabella, and Esteban spent the day playing at the city swimming pool. It was supposed to be the last warm day of the season. Soon the pool would be closed, and they would be bundled up in jackets and scarves.
As they were drying off, Isaac couldn’t hear out of his left ear. He wiggled it around, but nothing happened. “Mom, I can’t hear. And when I talk it sounds muffled.”
“You must have water in your ear, Mijo,” she said. Mom always called him Mijo. It is Spanish for ‘son.’ Isaac’s family spoke both English and Spanish, and he wanted to learn both languages.
“Well, how do I get it out?” He asked.
“Did you wiggle your ear?”
“Well, give it a little bit, maybe it will come out by itself. If not, we’ll try something when we get home.”
“Okay, mamma,” Isaac said.
When they got home, Isaac was shaking his head back and forth, still trying to get the water loose. His grandma was looking at him, “Mijo, what are you doing? You look like a dancing chango.” She had called him a monkey.
Isaac didn’t laugh. He couldn’t hear. “Abuela, I can’t get the water out of my ear.” Abuela is Spanish for grandma.
“Oh, I know what to do. Come here.”
Abuela reached into the cabinet and grabbed a green bottle.
“What is that?” Isaac asked.
“It’s Olive Oil, Mijo. It will help the water get out of tu oreja.”
“I don’t know about that,” said Isaac tugging on his Spanish word for ear.
She dipped her fingers in the oil and let a couple of drops fall off in his ear. It felt slimy. He could hear it slowly slither inside his head. “That feels weird.”
“It’s looking for the water.”
“You mean la agua?” Isaac knew that the Spanish word for water was agua.
Abuela smiled, “Very good, Mijo. Now, go lay down and rest.”
Isaac did as he was told. Abuela came back shortly to check on him. Isaac lifted his head, but nothing came out. In fact, he could hear less than what he heard before.
“Hmm,” said Abuela. “Let’s try something else. Vamos al baño.”
As she said, Isaac followed her into the bathroom.
Abuela again reached into a cabinet, this time pulling out a clear bottle.
“What’s that?” Isaac asked.
“It’s called Rubbing Alcohol, Mijo. It will help get the water out of your ear.”
“That’s what you said about the olive oil,” she smirked, thinking about the slimy feeling.
“Let’s try,” she said.
“Okay, Abuela.” Isaac tilts his head. This time Abuela used a dropper and put a couple of drops in his ear.
This liquid was not slimy, but cold and it made Isaac shiver.
“That’s cold,” Isaac said.
“It’s looking por la agua. Now, go lay down and rest.”
Isaac did as he was told. Abuela came back, Isaac lifted his head, but nothing came out. Not only could he not hear, he was slimy and now a little shivery.
“Well, that didn’t work,” said Isaac, a little upset.
“Sorry, Mijo, it always worked with tu mama.” Abuela said, using the Spanish word for mom.
Isaac still could not hear at bedtime. He was scared that he would always be this way, never being able to hear through a cold, slimy, and stuffed up ear.
“Don’t worry, Isaac,” his mom said. “It will come out when you least expect it. Maybe while you sleep tonight.”
“I don’t know about that,” said Isaac. He laid down and went to sleep.
The next morning Isaac woke up to his little sister laughing. She was running around the house like she was riding un caballo. Caballo is Spanish for horse. Isaac said to her, “Please, be quiet, Isabella. I can hear you all the way in my room.”
Then he realized. He could hear.
Isaac wiggled his ear and spoke again. No more muffled noises. He went to his bed and saw a green and clear spot on his pillow. “Eww,” Isaac said.
He ran to the kitchen where Abuela was making comida for the family. Comida is Spanish for food. “Abuela, I can hear again!!” he shouted.
Abuela hugged him. “See, I told you it would help la agua out of tu oreja.”
“Gracias, Abuela.” Isaac said. Gracias was how you told your grandma, thank you in Spanish.
“De nada, Mijo.” And de nada was an abuela’s way of saying you’re welcome to her grandson.
Originally published June 6, 2019.