Friday, October 9, 2009

So there Was a Priest, A Rabbi, and A Deaf Guy....

It is my opinion if you are comfortable in your skin you can laugh at yourself and situations you find yourself in. Over the years my family has found humour in many of our characteristics. My son love to poke fun at me for being a Waldorf teacher. If I were uncertain of my abilities or didn't believe I was a good teacher I might resent his teasing but I know he respects me so I laugh along because his teasing is so funny.

When he was small I always laughed when well meaning people would see him and whisper in the most gentle tone, "Is he hearing impaired?" Well this is funny because we don't use this term and why are we whispering? I would reply in my best outside voice, " Who? My son? Oh no he is deaf, can't hear a thing." I know that is a bit rough but the idea of tip toeing around my son is just too funny.

My son always would tease me because I hate really loud noise. "Bet you wish you were me".

One time a friend with a hearing daughter came with us to a children's interactive exhibit at the art museum. As we walked across the lawn to the door we heard what seemed to us to be children singing over a loud speaker. It was so cute and you could hear it all around the outside of the building. Once inside we realized it was coming from a stage where the kids could host a news show. They had video and sound. The museum was really busy but our kids waited so patiently. When my son age 3 got up he did this whole routine pointing in different directions and "talking". He did a grand Vanna White gesture an introduced his friend. She walked shyly up to the mic and spoke two words. "F*#* it!" I turned to my friend " Bet you wish she was deaf right now"

My son happens to be deaf. For us that is just a state of being like hair color or my being left handed. That is just part of who we are as a family so finding humor in that is natural. Over the years we have laughed about deaf standard time.We laugh about how he sleeps through his sonic boom alarm but the rest of the family wakes up from the sound of it vibrating. We laugh about how when out in public people who assume we are all deaf will walk up smile and sign the alphabet. In short we laugh a lot.


Going mainstream has funny moments.

The other day I went to pick up my son from his ASL club meeting at a local cafe. The kids were engaged in conversation and I sat down to allow him time to wrap up. A group of kids were just cracking up. Here is the story that was causing the uproar.

The school has a theme this year that all the kids study, Cuban music. There is a class where they are expected to explore this art form and integrate it into their general studies. The first day of class the teacher presented this assignment. They were to listen to a Cuban song and after create a dance of art piece that represents how they felt about it. *dramatic pause*

My son raises his hand points to himself and says, "I'm still deaf"

The class burst unto laughter. The teacher stopped the lesson so everyone could brainstorm on how to continue. Finally they decided to try and use a small amp so he could at least feel the vibration. He walked over leaned in shaking his head, " no, still deaf ".

The kids thought he was funny they continued the joke all day. We now have a powerful silent amp that goes to any class where there is music courtesy of the principal. What is so interesting is no one at this school views my son as disabled so deaf is not a sensitive issue. They address it as a learning style. Some kids are kinetic learners, other visual etc but they all have a way they learn best. The teacher from that class was horrified at her mistake and came to my to talk about it and how she could change. The kids joke with him in a natural fashion because he presents himself with confidence. He does not hide his deafness or sit quietly if he doesn't understand. he makes people comfortable with deafness because he is so outgoing and comfortable.

Another funny thing that happens to him is the desire for people to pay him for being deaf. When we are out in public random strangers will give him candy or money. At stores and restaurants he gets discounts and things for free. This drives me nuts but he thinks it is hilarious. He makes jokes about how he could start his own church and make millions. Of course I remind him that he shouldn't encourage this from hearing people they don't know any better. I also had to explain they do this out of pity which was a huge shock. He can't wrap his head around why someone would pity him.

There is a long tradition of deaf jokes. The one about the man who goes to his car at a hotel and forgets his room. He honks the horn and finds his room because his wife is the only one who didn't turn on the light because of the racket. We even have a book of deaf jokes and have gone to see some really funny deaf comics. So you see we are not cruel or strange but just living as a deaf/hearing family.

If for some reason you feel offended or angry by what I have written that makes me sad. Feel free to lash out and get it off your chest. One thing, I am curious about that anger.......

Hows it working out for you?


  1. No anger from me! Deaf people have a lot to laugh about and one of them is themselves. Another funny topic is hearing people and how stupid they can be about deaf people. Cheers!

  2. Another example of how completely different the self-esteems of ASL Deaf and oral deaf people are...your son obviously is a confident Deaf young man! =) My hearing parents always said I could do whatever I wanted no matter what and to ignore people who said otherwise. They never hid the fact that I was Deaf or made me feel ashamed being Deaf. I know some parents of deaf children tell their kids that they are hearing...or that they can be hearing. EEK.

  3. I'm laughing along with you. :)

    I've always told my kids to make others comfy enough so that they don't walk on eggshells around 'em. That first means getting comfy enough with yourself that you can joke-- and I see that your family has done that well.