Life in progress


#atozchallenge – Reflections times two

I learned a lot from both of my A to Z Challenges.

First, I wasn’t sure I had enough material to pull off the theme I chose for this blog, which was parenting a Deaf child as a hearing mother. I was afraid I’d repeat myself. I don’t think I did. In the process of writing it, I also learned that what I do without really thinking about it on a daily basis is extraordinary. Not to say that I believe myself to be special, but like anything we do until we are no longer conscious of the mechanics of it, whether it’s touch-typing, driving a car, playing a video game, or whatever it is we do well, if we take the time to break it down into steps, we can usually find ourselves awestruck that our brains can do so much at once. Putting it that way, I don’t think I’m any different than anyone. I just have a different set of circumstances.

At the same time, I hope by sharing my life and what it’s like to survive as a Deaf person, I’ve raised some awareness for those who may never know, but who might meet by chance, someone who cannot hear. They are everywhere. To find my challenge from the beginning, click here:

For my second challenge, I took on the task of showing rather than telling different characteristics of people in fiction. I learned that it’s not easy, when writing less than 200 words, and in some cases only 50, to pull a virtue or flaw out of a character and relay it sufficiently. I’m sure I failed a few times, but hey, it was an exercise to better my craft. We learn from our mistakes as well as our successes.  You can find the start of my fiction A to Z here:

As much fun as this year’s A to Z was, I admit I’m glad it’s over. As well as editing my epic paranormal romance novel, I’m also planning to self-publish my A to Z fiction (a romantic comedy novelette) from two years ago. I’ve promised myself the latter will be available for sale next month.  On a related note, as you may know, I plan to turn this year’s A to Z on parenting a Deaf child into a book. Therefore, I’ll be removing it from view on my blog at the end of this month. If you haven’t read it all yet, and want to before I compile it for publication, do it soon!

It’s been great meeting new bloggers through the challenge. I hope to participate again next year. It’s been a blast!


Zip – #AtoZ Challenge

Do you remember those infant’s toys that demonstrate the sounds all the animals make? Maybe you still have one laying around the house. Loads of fun, and a great teaching tool as well.

My first two kids played with one of those things until I was ready to strangle the turkey and eat it for dinner. Yet strangely, when Alex was born, I missed being able to add the detail of what an animal sounded like to its name. Or its sign, as was the case.

This has transferred to everyday life. The word, “zip” makes no sense to him in an onomatopoeic way. He processes impacts such as “bang” and “clap” in a very different way to those of us who can hear. He feels them.

Having said all that, Winston has a very loud bark indeed. Loud enough that it penetrates Alex’s profound, though not complete, hearing loss. I can finally have fun with, “The dog says, ‘Woof!'” once again.


Winston and Alex


Yielding – #AtoZ Challenge

In my post yesterday, about how difficult it is for my son, Alex, to play with the neighbourhood children, I mentioned that part of his problem is my fault. Thing is, the other kids tend to play from one side of the street to the other and up and down both sides. Kids, being kids, sometimes run across the street to beat the traffic. If Alex follows them but doesn’t see the car, (and of course he doesn’t hear it) the results are literally the stuff of nightmares for me. The traffic on my street should be going at 40km/h (25mph) but occasionally people speed down it as though they were the only ones on the road. On that account I’ve tried to get the city to put up signs, but they refused, saying they deal only with signs that meet provincial standards.

The signs I’ve seen in this province, in various towns and cities, include “Elderly Persons Crossing,” “Children at Play,” “Turtle Crossing,” and “Duck Crossing.” But they won’t put one up for my Deaf son. There are actually a couple of “Deaf Children at Play,” signs across town, but they won’t put one up here. They told me that perhaps they’ve been there since the guidelines were changed.

As parents, we all have to advocate for our kids, whether for their schooling, the services they need, their health… The list goes on. This is just one of the many I have to deal with. I need to find help, I think.

What have you advocated for on your family’s behalf and succeeded?


X-Exclusion – #AtoZ Challenge

One of the hardest things for me to endure, as the mother of a Deaf child, is the exclusion of Alex by the hearing neighbourhood kids. Admittedly, part of it is my fault. Explaining why would be going off on a tangent, however, so I’ll leave that for tomorrow’s post.

Alex does have friends at school, but they live all over the province. Some are in residence on campus, many live miles away. So it’s difficult for him to get together with them outside of school. But like any kid, he sees children his own age outside his own house playing and he wants to join in. There are a couple who will play with him as long as their friends aren’t around – understandable in a way, since once they start discussing what they’re going to do, it’s hard to include Alex in the conversation. But even when they’re alone with Alex, they eventually get frustrated with trying to communicate with him. So they stop playing.

Then there are the kids across the street. He went over to play with them once, but they had no tolerance for him. They complained to one of Alex’s friends that does play with him that he “gives them a headache.” I wonder where they got that phrase from. It’s not often you see a perfectly healthy 7 or 10 year old child with an actual headache. Since that one time, they’ve sent him away and left me to explain to him that they don’t want to play with him. Or worse, they’ve let him stay and made fun of him, thinking he can’t understand. As I’ve mentioned before, most of sign language is body language and facial expression. He understands just fine. Incredibly, I’ve even had one of them accuse him of hitting her so she could use the excuse that he was mean to her. She figured, I suppose, that he would be unable to explain to me what really happened.

It doesn’t seem to matter how much we teach our children tolerance (though the kids and their parents across the street could use a lot more), they will be kids. They have their own interests, which don’t always include being able to play with only minimal communication. It’s a tough issue. One I can’t see a solution for.


Windows – #AtoZ Challenge

Windows are wonderful, aren’t they? They keep us warm (or cool, depending on the season), and allow us at the same time to gaze upon the scenery outside. Through them we can watch our kids play… But windows are not that great when we want to say something through them, like, “Stop squirming already and come in for a pee!” Unless we know sign language!

I remember once driving up to a stop sign and seeing, half way up the street, my eldest son walking in the freezing cold.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“The mall,” he replied.

“Want a ride?”

“Sure, thanks.”

All from outside of yelling distance, and I didn’t have to roll the window down. Same thing when the kids had a play date in one of those huge indoor playgrounds. It didn’t matter that they were climbing through a kid-sized tube high above the floor and I was waiting for them to come down.

As soon as they looked at me, I signed, “Come down in 10 minutes for lunch.”

“What are we having?”


“I’ll be right there.”

Amazing, eh?

Problem was, it became a habit for me. One time that was particularly embarrassing, was when the father of one of my kids’ friends brought my son home. The dad didn’t get out of the car, he just let my son out and waved. Being the polite person I am, I signed “thank you.” He never spoke to me again. To this day I believe he thought I was blowing him a kiss.

Conclusion: sign language is a fantastic way to communicate, as long as everyone knows what you’re doing.


Vibration – #AtoZ Challenge

Apart from heightened visual observational skills, my Deaf son, Alex, is extremely sensitive to vibration. Often, when I’m trying to get his attention I’ll stomp on the floor. Even across the room whilst wearing shoes, he can feel my attention-grabbing technique – unless he’s trying to ignore me, which leaves me jumping up and down in frustration like a mad-woman. I swear, if I had a camera in my house… Of course this only works on a wooden floor. If we’re on concrete or outside I have to make sure he can see me.

This sensitivity also accounts for his terror of thunderstorms. He doesn’t need to hear the crash, he can feel it. Coupled with the flash of lightning, it’s rare for him to sleep while there’s a storm going on.

I couldn’t find the interview that Ellen did with Marlee Matlin when she was on “Dancing With The Stars,” but here’s the interview with Nyle DiMarco and his partner, where Ellen mentions how Ms. Matlin danced by feel.

My A to Z theme concerns the joys and challenges of being the hearing mother of my Deaf son, Alex. To learn more about his beginnings in life, click here to go to my first A to Z entry.


Understanding – #AtoZ Challenge

You know when your toddler learned a new word a few days ago and then tries to say it again, but can’t quite pronounce it? Even though you ask him or her to repeat it, a lot of the time you still can’t figure out what he or she is trying to say, right? It’s like that for me every single day.

The Deaf school that my son, Alex, attends is a godsend in many ways. But he comes home with a heightened vocabulary that I just can’t comprehend. And it’s not as though I can look it up. I can find words I want to sign because I know how they are spelt. But finding a sign in the dictionary when you don’t know what the sign is, is like trying to figure out what written Chinese means.

So Alex dumbs it down for me. For instance, he was trying to explain to me the other day that his friend had invited him over to his place to play. But I didn’t know the sign “invited.” I got the friend’s name, (which is a task all on its own, because names are invented by Deaf people on a person to person basis) and I got the sign for “go” and “house.” While I was trying to tell Alex he couldn’t go, he was signing, “I was invited.” Seeing that Mom wasn’t understanding him, yet again, he went the long way around.

Alex: [Friend’s] mom talked to [friend], told me fine, [friend] asked me to go to his house.

Me: [Friend’s] mom said okay you go?

Alex: Yes.

It’s like living with a game of charades.

My A to Z theme concerns the joys and challenges of being the hearing mother of my Deaf son, Alex. To learn more about his beginnings in life, click here to go to my first A to Z entry.


The Trickster – #AtoZ Challenge

My Deaf son, Alex, loves to play jokes on people. Seeing surprised expressions is one of his joys in life – it’s why he loves watching “The Price Is Right” and “Just for Laughs Gags” so much. One of his favourite things to do is hide from us, and then pop out to scare us. Except he doesn’t realize that he needs to be quiet. So it’s not uncommon to walk into a room and hear Alex either giggling his head off or screaming with excitement, knowing he’s about to frighten someone. Of course we all play along, shading our eyes and dramatically looking around while signing, “Where’s Alex?”

It’s the same when he and his friends play hide and seek. There’s no such thing as sneaking around quietly – as long as they can’t see each other, they’re golden.

It just makes me laugh. 🙂

You can watch the video with the sound off – the audio is just music and a laugh track. Worth the watch.

My A to Z theme concerns the joys and challenges of being the hearing mother of my Deaf son, Alex. To learn more about his beginnings in life, click here to go to my first A to Z entry.




Safety – #AtoZ Challenge

I’ve spoken at length before about the dangers of traffic when one is deaf, or deafened by headphones. I think it’s actually worse for the latter; as I explained in this post, we hearing people don’t realize how much we don’t use our powers of visual observation.

However, there are many other safety concerns for the mother of a Deaf child.

Chatting while driving: I can sign to Alex, but it’s hard to take my eyes off the road long enough to see what he’s saying. For the most part I make him wait until I stop the car. It makes for some pretty lonely drives for him – at least I have the radio.

Wandering off: You can’t call a Deaf child back, so it’s important to either stay in Alex’s line of sight or physically hang on to him. Letting him walk away from me has led to a few hair raising experiences.

The puppy: Dogs growl before they bite. Alex doesn’t hear the warning. This is a new thing for me, since we’ve only had Winston since just before Christmas. I really need to get him to puppy classes. Winston, not Alex. Then again…

watching the cat

Alex and Winston, watching the cat

My A to Z theme concerns the joys and challenges of being the hearing mother of my Deaf son, Alex. To learn more about his beginnings in life, click here to go to my first A to Z entry.


Reading – #AtoZ Challenge

“Think about how the word sounds,” they say.

Phonics. They’re a wonderful thing, aren’t they? Unless you’re Deaf. From what I understand, a Deaf person learns words by recognition, sort of like how we see a picture of something and associate it with what it means. Yet it’s not as simple as you’d first think. For instance, we can see a picture of a house with the word “house” below it – easy, right? But what about the word “concept”? How do you explain that word with the definition of it, and expect anyone to remember it? Just the amount of memory it must take for a Deaf person to be able to spell words on sight is phenomenal!

We’re supposed to be able to teach our children the things we understand, especially the things we know most about. Words are my thing. And even though my son, Alex, is learning English, it’s as though it’s a foreign language to me. It’s frustrating that I have no idea how I could possibly go about teaching him how to read. I thank heaven that there’s a school and teachers who can do it.


My A to Z theme concerns the joys and challenges of being the hearing mother of my Deaf son, Alex. To learn more about his beginnings in life, click here to go to my first A to Z entry.