Today was weird. Just plain weird.
I need to dissect it and compartmentalize it for this blog but imagine the past tumbling down with great force on your nice poached egg and toast breakfast.
The first thing I will broach is some papers I found. I may choose to post about the rest of my day later or choose to let it float out into the world.
12 years ago.....
My husband was a writer and I was a costumer in Los Angeles. I had a steady gig on a TV show so he was the stay at home dad until my show would die. He was able to take ASL classes at the college level. I studied from a text book on stage. Somehow we managed to voice off in 13 months at home. This is Deaf culture paper he wrote as a requirement for his class. *excuse typos I scanned it and it came up a bit off*
My husband's first ASL Class Culture Paper
Cultural Awareness Assignment #1
Date of Event: January 22, 2000
Type of Event: Deaf Mentor Date
Location of Event: My home and Kokomo's Restaurant
Due Date: 2/2/00
Once a week myself, my wife and my son meet with our Deaf Mentor, Maxie.
She comes to our home for a couple of hours and each week we try to do something a little different. One week we'll go to a bookstore, another shopping or sometimes we just sit and play in the yard. The main purpose of her visit is to be a positive role model and a sort of Big Sister to my son, Hayden, who is profoundly Deaf. For my wife and I, she is someone that will answer any questions we have about things like Deaf culture, ASL, and what Our son can expect to encounter in the hearing and Deaf worlds. Because she too is profoundly Deaf and uses sign only, we are able to turn off our voices and practice our sign, while also getting a glimpse of how our son might navigate the world.
One thing we notice a lot when we are out is that people stop and stare when we are signing. Other times total strangers will interrupt our conversations to ask questions about our son. My wife and I aren't used to the staring yet and are sometimes distracted by having our every word watched. But we noticed right away how Maxie simply blocks out or ignores the people around her. Other times, people have seen us signing and assumed we are all Deaf. Sometimes it's funny When people realize I've heard every word they were saying about us, but other times it's hurtful and I find it very hard let it go when people say offensive or insensitive things. On this trip, to Kokomo's restaurant at the Farmer's Market, most people were watching us out of curiosity and commenting on how great it was that a two year old was signing so much.
Most of our lunch,was great, but I was very curious about how we would order at the restaurant. I've been with some Deaf friends that write their order, while others point at the menu. Other friends of ours don't mind if a hearing friend, Interprets, but I wasn't sure how Maxie felt about that. When the time came Maxie started fingerspelling her order to the waiter, who we knew didn't sign. My wife interpreted for her, which she didn't seem to mind. The only compromise that comes to mind is that of language. Maxie waits patiently while my wife and I struggle to sign something or when we can't read her fingerspelling, she slows down for us. On our end it's hard to forgot everything we know about English and try to think in terms of pictures and concepts, instead of words and phrases.
Overall our mentor dates are a great opportunity for all of us. My only confusion is about when to interpret for a Deaf friend. During conversations with hearing people that don't sign, it seems to be okay, but in others instances, I'm not so sure.
My lasting impression is that these dates are by far the most valuable thing in my son's parent infant program. In an education system where most teachers of the Deaf are hearing or hard of-hearing, it's refreshing to find someone that my son can relate to and learn from. Maxie teaches Hayden and us, things that a hearing teacher would never know. And each week my wife and I relax a little bit more and realize that our son's world can be whatever he wants it to be.