I am prompted to write this post by a conversation I had with my son tonight. I am going to be frank about it and it may offend some people but it is honest and just the perspective of a 12 year old kid who is not jaded by the politics of being deaf. In fact he is so at home with himself it does not surprise me when I see what he has to say about the subject. The funny thing is it makes me nervous to post it because you may think poorly of my son but I feel it is valuable. My son on the other hand stands behind his belief but would hesitate only because he wouldn't want to hurt someone's feelings.
The conversation started with a question I asked him about cochlear implants. I wanted to know if the kids at camp had any problems because of their implants. He told me no and then that lead us to the first time he saw one when he was little.
His said when he was really young he saw a girl had one and he thought it looked like a steering wheel of a car. He didn't understand why a girl would want something like that on her head. Later he saw another and he asked the kid what it was. The kid popped it of with a flourish and shocked my son not offering any clue to what it was. He was laughing telling me this and said later he got it when I taught him about it.
So this all spins around to a topic my son has strong opinions about. No, not implants, about that he doesn't care either way. The topic that drives him nuts is ASL poetry. This is an subject he happens to be interested in . He has been mentored by very talented Deaf adults and enjoys this art form for its beauty and clever execution. He is also a good ASL storyteller and has respect for the art of ASL. He sees it as a way to entertain and at times to provoke thought.
*note I have condensed and translated to the best of my ability. When reading this remember he is a dance and theater student so it is quite the performance*
He starts out telling me it drives him nuts how many young poets are so self pitying and dramatic. He shows me a comic example, face creased with pain his flings his arms in dramatic over acting and signs "deaf", slowly swaying from side to side using the usual phrases we have seen." Caterpillar to butterfly, lonely , confused, find ASL, my heart broken , confusion then light". He slowly and so dramatically falls to the ground.
He then gets up and tells me ,
" I don't get it since when is Deaf a big deal? Why do we all have to stand around being so upset and using it as a way to get people to feel sorry for us? I am only 5 percent deaf *meaning his deafness is only 5 percent of who he is*, it is just a little problem. I do whatever I want and it has nothing to do with being deaf.
We need to put some art back into kid's poetry. I wish these kids would study the craft and move beyond all of this drama. "
* at this point realize he has not had to go from being oral to sign, we have never really put much emphasise on his deafness, he has never been bullied, left out or had problems communicating with us so his comments are not cruel but just real and valid from his experience*
" I want to see more interesting topics and it wouldn't hurt to make me laugh once in a while. I get so bored with all poor me stuff.
I think if we want to focus on Deaf it should be funny or to fight for our rights with strength when preforming"
That is the part of our talk tonight that I wanted to share. There was much more and I will leave you to guess how I followed up with him on this or what my opinion of his comments were.