Some would argue that my son is part of the last gasp of a dying culture. I am sure there was a mother in 1880 thinking the same thing.
I don't focus on the arguments for or against our choice. There is a reason for that. I can't change the opinions of others. I support the choices other parents make. I can enjoy sharing the joy of life with my son. I just think every child can enjoy all their body has to offer. I will not stand on the edge of a cliff staring at the end.
What surprises me is a culture that grows outside of itself. I see things that indicate this growth everyday.
When my son was two a new friend was frustrated that he acted up when she tried to take my husband's attention away. She tried gifts, fun adventures and finally took an ASL class.
She is now an interpreter.
When I worked on a TV show my son would come to visit often for lunch. The caterers would get confused when I interpreted. They learned how to take his order. He would walk up an request with ASL chicken or fish, veggies*yes!* , or rice all by himself. I would be sitting near by chatting with friends.
The assistant director noticed the connivence of sign. We would skip the radio after he was fluent to talk about the actors in delicate situations.
As my son grew people would ask questions. They would learn but they, for the most part were hearing.
I started to teach ASL to hearing parents and their children. My son was a guest teacher. He would come and tell stories and show them his poetry, read books using his language. He would entertain them and show them the beauty of his world. Several entered interpreting programs. Many still use ASL at home.
When my son goes to mainstream schools he is not cast out. He is not asked to speak. The school he attends now has added a third level to their ASL program. The students work hard to gain fluency just so they can "talk" to my son.
He is cast in a musical. The director is learning how to make a deaf kid "sing". So Deaf West is introduced to the school culture. His theater teacher is finding ways to integrate ASL into the class. They both saw Howie Seago preform in Ashland this summer.
Yesterday we took a train to go see "Cirque De Soleil". A Deaf cast member has been added. My son chose a hearing friend to come with us. This 18 year old kid is conversational in sign because he was in a theater company with my son. This year he is starting college. Guess what..... he wants to become an interpreter.
I could go on and on.
So as I stand at the edge of the cliff, the edge of the end, I chose to look forward and enjoy the ride.