Have You ever been in a group, out in public or in a moment where You notice peoples physical reaction to your children?
Whether its for a tantrum in public, mismatching outfits, or something more personal, like in our case, being deaf.
The face of disbelief, the face of disgust?
I've been conscience of societies reactions. The pure rudeness and gal of what people think they can say, or do to complete strangers. It is appalling. I have witness, Children who start to play with Sophie and then ask "whats wrong with her?" and once they are told she can't hear, and she doesn't talk, they start to distance themselves. I've been asked by adults, who then look like a deer in head lights, who get stiff and do not know what to say so, they make a face, and turn and walk away..."ok Goodbye to you too, thanks for chatting" said in my head, not out loud, though I probably should. I've witnessed while being in the home of someone we know, not want to even look at her, I've watched parents allow their kids to treat Sophie is disrespect. They show their ignorance to something that's perfectly ok, and yet because its not in their everyday, they make the "gross" face. Its like shes diseased...
Ohhh no Don't touch my daughter, or you'll be deaf too...kind of deal.
Which as Sophie gets older she starts to notice.
She notices the little girl who wont look at her, when Sophie is trying hard to get her attention.
She notices the boy who stops playing with her.
She notices the face expression that the parents have on their face, the one that's different towards Emily, and Ryan. The Smiling face that says "hi" when we see them, that quickly turns to just a slight grin and...no Hi, And Guess what...I notice it too!
Because we are naturally able to hear We are also around more families that are hearing as well. In a hearing World. Sophie has and does well to adjust herself to be in the hearing world as best as she can. But she shouldn't always have to.
we have been lucky to have found a small tight knit community that understands our family dynamic. To have placed Sophie in ASL education where we have watched her take off at lightening speed. Its Been Sophies Choice.
To watch her Story tell, to watch her explain, to watch her understand, to watch her Absorb language. Her Language. Its been an amazing experience.
One we have noticed is sometimes hard for people to understand.
People want so badly to make everything "better". They want perfection, they want what they see as normal to be...normal.
In talking with a friend this morning, she used the word normal is such a simplistic, yet awesome way. "this is your new normal"
One of those silent "uh ha" moments happen in my head...like DUH Bec! What a terrific way to explain that to those who just do not get it. That Having ASL in our lives is our new normal, and sharing it with as many people as possible is a testimony to the Joy that knowing ASL can bring. Advocating that its OK to be accepting to all things and sharing all kinds of things, thus making this sometimes, dark and stormy, World a bit brighter.
I've been told by close family and friends that we should NOT EXPECT those around us to learn ASL. That Sophie is one person, and its would be easier to just have her use the gifts of technology to come through into their "world".
Why shouldn't I expect that. Like a "Hey you want to hang with us, Learn a bit as ASL, so You can communicate with all of us as a whole" Right? YES!!! We can't be the friend, the mom, the wife, the daughter (in-law), Son (in-law) sister, Aunt, Uncle, Brother, Husband, AND ALWAYS TRANSLATE. We of course Aren't expecting you to learn it all, or understand it all, We are still students of the language ourselves, but I don't think its asking too much, especially of close family and friends, to learn the basic's...average 100 Signs, (not including the alphabet) Its really NOT MUCH! And Its not too much to take in, it benefits, Your brain, it strengthens you bond with Sophie. All she asks for is love and attention. To fully know her, means to understand her, How else will you get the gist of her story tell, or her joke, or the tricks she likes to play on people. OH THE MIGHTY POWER OF LANGUAGE!
Any language, any knowledge is good knowledge and works the brain, and keeps the cells active.
I've had countless people, say "oh you know Theres this thing that fixes hearing, right, the cochlear implant, you should get her that" "Oh why doesn't she talk?" "whats wrong with her?" "why is she so loud, can't she be quiet?"
Its reallllllly annoying. You know theres better ways of asking questions Folks. and Truly, If You do not know anything about Cochlear implants, or whether or not we have one, or was looking into one, you should NEVER tell someone to get it to fix their child. Theres Nothing Wrong with being deaf. Not to mention, everything that comes along with the device. Its a wonderful invention, it works awesome, and helps, it allows hearing to happen, but theres so much more then comes along with it. So much work that the person has to do on a day to day basis. Its NOT A FIX. Its wonderful, we have witnessed great differences, and seen the power of Cochlear implants. We may get to see it through our Sophie one day. But please don't expect us to force it on her. Its Sophie's Choice
Matt and I both share the fear of what would happen to our children should GOD FORBID anything happen to us both. Who would be the best match to take our kiddo's. And We fear that without family ACCEPTING ASL as its necessity, and as Sophies MAIN language, that she will suffer even more. Her comfort, has never been hearing, but in seeing. If You take away her parents, and her communication, and force upon her something not vital to her very own existence...what does she have left? Its important for us to document, Sophies Choice. While we continue to ask her to use the C.I. While we are still on the path of fixing it and setting up Aural Therapies. We will always use ASL. We will always ALLOW our CHILDREN TO DECIDE what works for them. We try and come from a place of yes as often as possible. We are trying to instill independent virtues in all 3 kids. showing them that we support their choices.Giving them enough guidance to make smart ones, but ones that will work for them, and their future. Who Am I to say, what they can study, or what colleges they can Attend, Who are we, to say where they can live or how far away, or who to love. ya know? If we can provide a solid foundation, and show love and respect for them starting even this young, then we can assure ourselves that their future is grand. Their choices!
I hope that should something happen to Matt and I, those next in line to care for our children can honor that, honor our way of parenting. We are honest, and allow real life in their life, while also nurturing silly fun fantasy like, Santa Claus and the tooth fairy! I couldn't image it being any other way.
Matt and I lucked up with these Kiddo's. As crazy and loud as we all are as a group. As trying as times can be, as hair pulling as these kids ages are (especially 3s) We have this beautiful thing called Family.
American Sign language ROCKS!