I love Christmas. It is the one time every year when the entire family on my husband's side commits to be together. This can also present challenges for us. My son sees his grandparents often even though they live almost three hours away. My kids are the only grandchildren so they get lots of attention. When he was very little they took ASL classes and even though they are not fluent they can communicate and were taught about Deaf culture. His aunts and uncles don't sign so here lies the challenge.
When my son was first identified I did tons of research and discovered many deaf kids of hearing families didn't fully enjoy family gatherings. Families would leave the deaf child in the dark about conversations. Maybe the whole table would be laughing and when the child inquired about why the family for many reasons wouldn't clarify. We just couldn't accept this.
I read about different ways people approached this. One family hired an interpreter. This just didn't seem like something that would make the gathering natural and comfortable for my son. So we decided to always invite Deaf people. That is what happened for most of his life until a couple of years ago. Now it is just family but we have found a balance so he is always included.
Every Christmas my husband and I, as much as we can, interpret everything that is said at the party. Even if he is not in the conversation I sign. that way if he looks over he can decide if he wants to join in. Sim com is not easy for me so it can be a bit exhausting.
This year my son learned how to play the guitar,
For the first time in many years I didn't host Christmas Eve. My husband's sister has a new house and new boyfriend so she offered to host. This gave me the option to relax and enjoy! We were all so excited and on the way over my son kept asking how many more minutes until we would arrive.
So everyone arrived and the party started. My kids were antsy to open presents and soon my son was bored. This is where I figure out that of course he is bored, not because he is deaf but because he is twelve. I remember being bored at that age. So he settles on the sofa to text his friends. Turns out they are all bored too (they are also all hearing).
He then decides to join the family in conversation. After awhile six people start talking about a cake someone brought and the bakery it came from. Soon all six people were talking at the same time and I was a mess trying to keep up and sort it all out for my son. He was asking questions which of course were a beat behind. So I just told them to stop so I could catch him up and please slow down and take turns talking. For the most part everyone knows to do this but sometimes they forget.
After that he plays WII with his sister. This gave my brain a break form trying to communicate in two languages. After that for the rest of the night my husband and I took turns interpreting. Everyone was having a great time. He was involved.
My son had discovered a room full of guitars. We were talking with the new boyfriend and my son mentioned that when he had to pick an instrument at school for music he wanted the guitar. I asked the boyfriend to teach him a bit. We sat him on the amp and he learned how to play a scale. It was the most natural thing in the world. He can't hear a thing but he does feel music. I was standing there watching him concentrate. He looks like a surfer kid, he is the kind of kid that wears flip flops in the winter. He doesn't look deaf. By that I mean a stranger looking at this scene wouldn't guess he couldn't hear the sounds he was generating. He was having a great time and told me he is excited to take music at school. This is a good example of why I never assume he can't do something. He may get bored with the idea later but that will be his decision not ours. I can't begin to understand why he likes music and dance but I can encourage him to explore anything the world presents.
So the funniest part of the night was the ride home. We stooped at a store in a kinda creepy area. My husband ran in to get something and I locked the doors of the car from the inside. When he came back I unlocked the door for him and the alarm went off. It was so loud people came outside and stared. We couldn't concentrate and tried starting the car and flipping switches. My son tried to tell us he knew what to do but my husband was so flustered he wasn't paying attention. Nothing was working and we didn't have the set of keys with the remote buttons so we decided in a chaotic fashion to drive home and get the keys. The noise had rendered us useless. As we backed out my son again offered to help. We parked he got out and grabbed the keys. He calmly told us to lock the doors again. He put the key in the door and unlocked them. Duh.