Life in progress


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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.

 

 


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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.


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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.

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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.


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Quiet – #AtoZ Challenge

I know I’ve mentioned before what it’s like when I visit Alex’s school for a special event. Walking down a hallway, jam-packed with students from Kindergarten to Grade 12, all of them chatting animatedly without a sound but the scuffing of shoes on the floor, is an experience not many hearing people are likely to have. I want to add that the shoe-scuffing is decidedly loud, however. I think that may be because Deaf parents aren’t constantly telling the kids to stop dragging their feet already, like the rest of us do. But I digress.

Unlike the above point, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned the first time I went with Alex for a playdate. It was back when we lived in the Ottawa area. We only went to a couple, hosted by a Deaf mom, for her kids and some of their friends, all of whom were Deaf. I was lucky to have found them: I was pointed in the right direction by one of my American Sign Language teachers.

My first impression at the playdate, once we got the kids organized and sitting around a table with building blocks, was how eerie it was. If I remember correctly, there were four adults and five or six children ranging in ages from two to six, and the room was dead quiet. What I remember the most was how happy Alex was. At the age of six, Alex was probably more fascinated watching the adults sign and the kids communicate with one another without excluding him than he was with the actual playing. It was at that moment that I realized these were his people and I was not.  As happy as I was for him, and still am, that he’s part of that wonderful community, being unlike him is one of the most heartbreaking things I have to endure as his mother.

It’s very strange to give birth to someone whose first language isn’t the same as yours.

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.


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Panic – #AtoZ Challenge

For my Deaf son, Alex, there’s no difference between a spider and a fire alarm. He understands what panic looks like, and he knows when I’m in one, but unless I sign why (which is difficult under the circumstances of real panic), then all he can do is wait until someone explains what the commotion is.

I could, and probably should, install special warning alarms in the house for him. The doorbell (first I’d have to get a doorbell) and the smoke detector are the two most obvious things to alert him of.  I haven’t bothered yet because he’s never at home alone. And equipment is expensive. Just an alarm clock that either shakes the bed or lights up (which only works in the dark I’m guessing) …scratch that. I just looked up the cost of one at Walmart and he wants a Spiderman one. They don’t make them. On with a search.

But I digress. There are many circumstances in which a Deaf person can be caught short. Just two examples: alarms in hotels don’t normally exist for the Deaf, and a bomb threat in a shopping mall would leave a Deaf person who was out alone wondering which way to run. We don’t realize how much we rely on our hearing.

Again, another reason for having more people in society who know some sign language. So many things to advocate for, so little time.

The sign, in ASL for “fire”: https://www.signingsavvy.com/sign/FIRE/3459/1

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.


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Obscenities – #AtoZ Challenge

As the parent of two hearing children I’m cognizant of the need to quell my verbal outbursts when I am not best pleased. I’ve been known, when they were younger, to come out with words such as “schnozzle” after having stubbed a toe, or “fruitcake” having noticed that the thing I wanted to wear hadn’t made it into the laundry. But now that they’re older, and the one child I have left too young to hear the more expressive me can’t hear, I have fewer qualms.

However, (and there’s always a however, isn’t there?) flipping someone the bird after they cut me off in the car remains out of the question. But, (yes, there’s a but as well as a however) there are also accidental signs. Take, for instance, the sign for “very,” which is close to the sign for “fuck.” For “very,” you make a letter “v” (just like a peace sign) with both hands, put the tips of the four extended fingers together and move your two hands away from each other. For a visual, click here: https://www.signingsavvy.com/sign/VERY/7162/1 The sign for “fuck” is the same handshape (the “v”) with both hands, except the movement is different. For this sign, the knuckles knock together… the same as the word “meet,” only with that only the index finger is up. A visual for “meet me”: https://www.signingsavvy.com/sign/MEET%20ME/3877/1

It’s easy to see why you wouldn’t want to mix either “very,” I had a very good time at the fair, or “meet,” There’a a playdate at the park. I’m going to meet my best friend’s husband there, with the word “fuck.” No matter who you’re talking to. Especially your best friend’s mother.

Saying the right thing around Alex can be complicated. The struggle is real.

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.


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Nighttime Variations – #AtoZ Challenge

Nighttime is much different with a Deaf child than it is with a hearing one. Just how much, I wasn’t able to imagine until I experienced it. When I had my first two kids I quickly learned what their cries meant. I knew whether or not they needed my full or immediate attention, or if they were just whining for a bit of company in the middle of the night. In the case of the latter, I would call out to let them know I was right in the room next door, and that they weren’t completely alone. With Alex, of course, this wasn’t and still is not, an option, even though he’s fifteen years old. So whenever he calls, no matter what the reason, either I have to get up or he comes to me.

The next difficulty: signing in the dark. People who are both deaf and blind learn to sign while touching, but try as I might, I can’t convince Alex to attempt it. So on go the lights which, in the dead of night, blinds us both. And speaking of lights…

They are one of the two things that will wake him up when he’s fast asleep, the other being vibration. I can go into his room and talk normally with no problem, which has been great at times when he’s been in the hospital. The neighbours can party all night long, fans can rattle, his feeding pump can beep, the phone can ring – none of that disturbs him in the least. But if I touch his bed or shine my cell phone in the wrong direction because I’m looking for something, and he’s wide awake. For anyone babysitting, it takes a bit of getting used to. As it will for me, if I ever look after someone else’s child.

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.