My son is very aware that hearing and Deaf culture are different. He often will point this out to me. I ask a question and he replies, "Mom it's a Deaf thing". There are many small ways we navigate differently. He does it with ease. I love how he can just turn a switch and fit in both worlds without thinking.
Over the years every time I am introduced to a Deaf adult it is normal to be asked for a sort of deaf resume. I offer my name and depending on who it is maybe my sign name. It goes like this.
Meeting a Deaf person
Me "My name is (finger spell my full name name), sign name (my sign name)"
Other person " Are you Deaf?"
Me "No I am hearing my son is Deaf"
At this point if there is someone I know standing by they jump in and explain me. It goes something like this,
" She is very involved her son has beautiful ASL. He goes to such and such school"
Then we go on to offer a brief background into how we fit into the community. I may learn if they were mainstreamed or attended a deaf program. I may find out where they were from and if their parents signed. I will not find out if they talk. If I later find myself with them and they start to talk to someone it will startle me a bit. They usually don't ask what I do for income and I won't learn this about them unless maybe they work in a Deaf related field.
Meeting a hearing person,
"Hi I'm Mel"
" Sally, nice to meet you. "
" Nice party, do you know Jack?"
"Yea I work with him"
"Oh what do you do?"
"I make packing peanuts"
"Interesting I have always wondered how they do that. I'm in sales."
" Really? What do you sell?"
" Tractors, here is my card if you are ever in the market."
There are other little differences and I understand why but the one that I am really curious about is makeup. Yep that has stumped me for years. When my son was younger I bought professional face paints because why pay a non signing hearing person when I could do it myself? I also have done theater makeup for both hearing and Deaf kids. I was thinking really hard about how to paint a deaf child's face. I thought about how it would feel if they shut their eyes and had no idea where the brush was going. So I developed a strategy. I would gently touch the are I was going to paint as a signal before painting. Boy did I feel clever.
The difference that baffles me is Deaf kids don't flinch. They don't as a rule mind if you paint on their eyes but hearing kids go nuts. I can tell a hearing kid to shut his eyes the verbally tell him what I am going to do and they still squish up their faces in nervous anticipation. I use the most quiet gentle voice. A deaf child will shut his eyes and remain relaxed not moving until I tap their shoulder. Why is this? I know it is such a small thing that in no way impacts the lives of our kids. Why do the deaf kids trust I won't poke their eye out but the hearing kids look like they are at the dentist? Other folks have told me the same thing but don't know why.
OK, I know that is a really strange thing to waste space on but I am on vacation and this is what happens when I have free time. Rest assured today I will make better use of my time. My son is teaching my daughter and I how to make a Comedia Del Arte mask. I didn't even know what that was until he told me. So always learning on this end.