Monday, February 15, 2010

But he lives in a Hearing world!

For years I have sat patiently and listened to hearing parents of deaf children lament, testify, proclaim and shout that their deaf children live in a hearing world.

Yes they do.

They also live in a Christian, Atheist, republican, democrat, black, white, gay, straight, fat, skinny, short, tall world. They live in a world full of different cultures and yes, languages. They live in a world full of ignorance and enlightenment.

I do not see any point in trying to make my Deaf son more like others. In fact I am joyful in his unique presence in this world.

This world that I believe has room for all of us.


I guess this is on my mind because of a text I received from my son at 3:17pm,
"Hey, I wasn't suppose to be here til 6:30"
Me: "OK, I will come get u"
Him: "No don't I'm fine"

Why is that so interesting?

Well he is in the middle of six day rehearsals for a play at his school. His school is only a few blocks away from our house. He is the only middle school principal character and the only Deaf student at this school. Tonight he arrived on time at 3pm for the start of the rehearsal day but 3 1/2 hours early for his scenes. The interpreters don't arrive until 6:30. So my Deaf son wanted to hang out at rehearsal with no interpreters rather than come home.

He comes tumbling out of every rehearsal goofing off with his high school friends. He is usually in one of the last groups of kids to leave and I always see the interpreters leave well before him. My Deaf son is a native ASL signer with no speech (well he does say poop) and yet he manages to find a place for himself in the Hearing world. He doesn't do this by trying to act hearing or by changing who he is. He does this by being exactly who he is.

So my Deaf kid has chosen for now to live mostly in the hearing world because that is where he gets to live an artistic life. That is where he is finding artistic peers. Of course we feel grateful that this school exists. He wears his deafness as a matter of fact. I never imagined this would be his path but I am joyful he has the power to chose on his terms.

About 4 years ago......

We always made sure our son had what we couldn't give him because of the simple fact that we are not deaf. He attended a deaf school and we socialize with Deaf families. We have depended on this for years and it was a family choice. When he was about 8 he started to get bored at school. By the time he was nine he had many interests he didn't share with the other kids. By 5th grade it was very clear he needed a change. It is important to note the Deaf community had been telling me this since he was 8 but I just couldn't imagine him being happy without his community close by. I lived in fear that he would be isolated or worse yet bullied by the hearing kids. What I now know is that because he has a strong Deaf community and was raised with his Deaf self being accepted he is very confident so when he goes out into the Hearing world he presents Haddy not deaf. He has lived a life so far knowing his deafness is just part of him so it doesn't hold him back. We are very aware that the school he attends is special but so is he.

His path is his own. Not all deaf children will choose this direction but it is a beautiful thing when they are respected for the choices they make. It is a beautiful thing when they are allowed to follow their path.


  1. Indeed it is beautiful when things are so in balance. Could you tell how you got started; how did you make the first contacts with the Deaf community, how did you bring them into your lives? This might inspire other families.

  2. The last few sentences you wrote really nailed the point of how important it is for parents to allow the children to just "be." It doesn't matter if the parent and child is hearing or deaf or whatever. All parents should step back a bit and provide resources for their children all the while allowing their children to find their own paths. It is definitely a beautiful thing. I can't wait to see what kind of path my boys (age 4 and 1) will take. =)

  3. I love having you as a friend! You are such a brilliant parent and teacher and constantly provide encouragement to keep on guiding our own son in a way that will allow him to grow into the person he is meant to be. In your son, I see my own in several years.

    Thank you for sharing, Mel. You totally ROCK as a mom!

  4. Dianrez you always make me giggle because you keep me on track. My intent was to slowly go though my son's life as a Deaf kid but things are so exciting right now I got side tracked! Keeping me on track is like herding cats.

    Keri I used one of your comments to clear up a problem at school, thanks!

    Liz that is such an honor when it comes from a mom like you!

  5. Glad my comment was helpful! Was it the comment in this post or another post...? Just wondering. ;)

  6. Keri it was your very useful opinion on my "let me spell it out for you post". Funny how hard these concepts are to explain to hearing people, that is why I am so grateful for the support of the deaf community!