Friday, November 5, 2010

No I Am Not Italian My Son Is Deaf

I have a funny habit. When I am out in the world, maybe miles from my son, I will spontaneously start signing while I am talking. Some folks have told me they just thought I was Italian. Yea, the tall faired skinned Norwegian who can't make a decent pasta sauce.

It often happens when I get excited about something. Last week I attended a committee meeting. I had an idea and bam! The fingers start flying as I verbally explain my latest brainstorm. I am not signing in ASL just doing a sort of simcom thing.

At my daughters carnival  I caught myself signing to her Spanish immersion teacher peppering in what little spanish I know. Yes I realize I am a big goof but it is out of my control. It is as if I think the teacher will better understand me with sign support.

Last week sitting in my mom's lawyers office talking about the interact dealings of elder law I did it again.

"Oh the hand thing, I have a deaf son"

I do it when I am eating. I will be talking and take a bit of food then stop talking and continue in sign.

This got me to thinking about when I was first learning. My husband and I committed to trying to sign everything we said. This was a frustrating few months. It was almost painful. We had text books and dictionaries in every room. We learned to make sure the books were published on the west coast where we lived. Sometimes we would learn the sign wrong and have to backtrack. Becoming conversational seemed like an almost impossible goal at first.

Then almost overnight something clicked. We were able to have conversations! We could turn our voices off at dinner. We still fumbled and made mistakes but we could see our goal in the horizon.

As time went on we become more comfortable. It became more natural and now it is habit. So much so I do it without thinking.


  1. I kind of do the opposite. When people start moving their hands when they talk my eyes go straight to their hands. Then I realize, duh, they are not signing!

  2. HAHA! Ericka we do the same thing. So many folks gesture when they talk. Haddy will start "whispering" or using code with me when we see that. Then we both look and see they are just hearing folks who illustrate their verbal English with flare.

  3. This is pretty funny to me. I remember growing up that neither of us was able to speak w/o using our hands. We may actually be a bit Italian!

  4. Too funny!On more than on occasion my mom (who uses dramatic hand gestures when she speaks, but doesn't know a single sign) has been asked if she was using sign language with me. She's not Italian, just Jewish :P