Sunday, March 27, 2011

Deaf Social

Organized by our ASL teacher Mary, the Deaf social was held at a community center and open to all Deaf and their families, Deaf/Blind, and ASL students.

ASL students were kindly asked by Mary to keep our voices OFF

"Leave your English at the door.  This is their event, their space, you are to be the minority."

I was nervous.  But promised myself I'd try.

I dragged Al, under some duress.  He needs to be exposed to this world.  A world I'm learning so much about.  A world we have chosen to be Owen's.

Much to my relief, and Al's, several of Owen's school friends and their Mommies were there.  They weren't turning their voices off. The kids went outside to the enclosed courtyard immediately, again to every one's relief, especially mine.

I didn't feel like a jerk talking out there.  So we chatted while the kids ran around.

But looking through the window, at the party going on, I did feel like a jerk, for avoiding what was scaring me.

So I ditched the talkies and went in.

I found a couple fellow students and conversed comfortably with them for a time.  Had a quick chat with Mary.  Then found a Mommy signing to a beautiful Chinese girl with glasses and pigtails.

We communicated in sign for many minutes, assuming she was Deaf before she told me;

"I'm Hearing." 

We continued our conversation in sign anyway.  She'd gotten her girl from China just a year before, she's now 5.  She is completely Deaf and was thought to be also Blind, she now sees enough with glasses.  The little girl is home schooled and Mommy left before I could give her my phone number, as I'd mentioned we should get the kids together.

Bea came in from the cold at some point.  I helped her with a couple activities.  Got her some food.  Tried to hide my speaking from the eyes of the Deaf folk.

A woman I'd heard about was escorted in, on the arm of her husband. Stacey is Deaf/Blind, and somewhat of a celebrity in this community from what I saw.

Everyone seeming so eager to 'talk' to her.  She never sat alone for more than a minute or two.  A friend would approach, kneel before her, and gently take her hands.  She'd first feel the offered hands thouroughly, and the person would begin signing, starting with their name.  Hand over hand.  Stacey's trusting hands following the signers.  Stacey's face would light up with emotion and understanding as her hands felt the words.

Was a beautiful thing to see.

A woman from class, Amanda, Deafened at age thirty (now in her fifties) arrived, and I happened to be the first person she saw.  So we settled into gabbing about everything and nothing.  Knowing I'm still learning, she kept her ASL simple and I was able to catch almost everything. 

I spotted Al and pointed him out to her.  She asked if he signs.  I told her 'just barely'.  She waved him over, and started signing to him.  Just to be a jerk!  Laughing at his confused expression, she told him;

"I'll turn my voice on now. She told me you don't sign.  What is wrong with men?  Is always the Mommy's who learn.  You need to learn."


As we talked some more, an activity was getting started in front of us.  Pin the little 'I Love You' hand on the big 'I Love You' hand.

And would you believe the nerve of these Deaf people?


This time he got his ass handed to him by that chick in the pink.

She used to ride the bus with Owen.  She tortured him.  I never could stand the Deaf bitch.

He didn't minding losing that game.  He was most looking forward to;

"Donut on a Spring."

Which he sucked at.  But before he started crying about how hard it was to bite, Mary stepped in and saved the day;

Mary is going to do these parties every month. 

I'll try to use my voice less at each one.  I promise.

And I'll let you know when I have balls enough to talk to Stacey.


  1. I just think it's amazing how much we take things for granted, and with how much ease people can learn to live without those things. I'm amazed by the Stacey woman- I hope you brave it and have a conversation with her soon, I can't wait to hear all about it!

    I think it's so cool that you are really immersing yourself in ASL!

  2. You will get there. I know it. :)

  3. Deaf kids kick ass and...listen to heavy metal? No, wait! That's "I love you" isn't it!?!

    I'm glad it was a positive experience for all of you!

  4. Can't look at the video with the tall hearing one next to me on the couch...
    will come back later. xo

  5. That rocks.

    Ya know, I always think of the movie Mr Hollands Opus, when you mention Al doesn't sign much.

    I hope folks keep ribbing him on yalls behalf. Then you won't have to thump him in the balls.

    Oh, am I the only one who does that to her husband when she's peeved at him? Huh.

  6. A little bit less every takes practice!

  7. I think it's so awesome that there is this fabulous community for Owen :) He's a lucky guy to have you, Tulpen!

  8. You know you never fail to humble me?


    I've made it a personal goal to meet you in person some day so you can tell me in ASL what a whiny stupid douche I can be sometimes.

    This post was awesome.

    You are the mother I aspire to be.

  9. Glad you went back inside with the non-talkies...sounds like you got a lot out of it. I prefer my comfort zone and would step out of it for my kids. I do. But it is damn hard.

    Hope you can start teaching us how to sign a shit load of fuck words!

  10. I'm so impressed that you can carry on a conversation in ASL. Also jealous!

  11. I know what face you're talking about.

    I used to be on the board for the Badger Home for the Blind when I worked, and the delight when a signed name would be recognized in the palm of the hand....just beyond what words can explain.

    You'd literally see the eyes light up.

    Nothing like it.

  12. Signing or no, it's damn hard to get out of the comfort zone under any circumstance. I try to do it when my kid's watching to set a good example, but she humbles me by being braver than I'll ever be.

    Oh: your son is beautiful! What a cutie. I loved watching the video and seeing his thumbs up at the end, but did feel a bit bad for the kid to his right who could have used a little help too. I'm going to assume he got to bite the donut (amazingly, not a euphemism, although it should be) too.

  13. way to challenge yourself. probably the quickest way to learn more, continuing to immerse yourself with others who sign more fluently. al needs to jump in there!

  14. you never cease to amaze me, really. and i too hope al jumps on the signing band wagon.

  15. So, we don't have a deaf child but these posts make me feel left out. I'm seriously considering looking for classes for Alex and I. I was really pissed that Gymboree only offers "baby signs". Fucking Gymboree.

    Daddy won't learn though. Not unless he starts to feel left out.

  16. Wow

    I am amazed by all of this and to be honest I feel a little stupid about my LACK of knowledge

    I hope your hubby does get motivated to learn ASL soon

    You are an amazing mom.

    that is all

  17. So, you know Stacy went home and said to her husband, "Why won't that Tulpen bitch come talk to me? What is she too good for me, am I not cute enough for her? New bitch."

    I'm just saying. She'd probably think you were cool. Has Owen spoken to her, or does he just do the kid thing?

  18. The girl in pink should play with kids her own size, Mary is a goddess and you rock.

    When the time comes I have no doubt you'll find a set of balls (hopefully not Al's) and be talking to Stacey like the pro you are.

  19. Wait, I thought your little boy was an absolute "pin the x on the y" savant!

    I gotta hand it to your new friend, jerk move or not - I can't imagine not doing absolutely everything in my power to be able to better communicate with my child.

  20. This line "Leave your English at the door.  This is their event, their space, you are to be the minority." is humbling

  21. What an interesting concept, to be the minority amidst other mommies and children.

    I am glad you faced what made you uncomfortable.

  22. I would be stepping so far out of my comfort zone, and here you do it for your family and with love.

    It would take me a long time to be able to talk with the one everyone wants to talk to. I'm quite the wallflower.

    "Leave your English at the door." I loved that.

  23. what a fun party- Maybe I should pay attention more but I assumed that Al also signed- you can tell him my expectations of him are higher than he is apparently able to deliver!

  24. Super cool story! That Owen is really a cutie and I just love that smile in the video with the donut!

  25. So, em, I've kinda run out of excuses to not go to parties. Social anxiety isn't enough, huh.

    This I loved. Especially, this line: "I never could stand the Deaf bitch."

    But all of it, really. That picture. And oh! that images of those lit-up eyes.

  26. That is so awesome. You are so awesome. I hope (like another poster said) people keep ribbing him for ya and he starts learning soon!

    I learned Makaton (simplified sign language, kinda like baby sign - totally not comparable, but here I am, doing it anyway) with my son since his speech took forever to develop and remember feeling really daunted by all the signs and putting them together and stuff. Especially when my son would sign something and I'd start panicking, oh crap what does that mean?! It's not easy.

    Good on you for pledging to talk a little less each time, it'll def. get easier for you. That social sounds awesome!! Glad you guys had fun!

  27. You are fucking awesome.
    And so are Mary and Amanda.

    That is all.

  28. I like the group photo at the end of this post, and as a photographer i can say that I would have all of them signing "cheeeeese" - which is probably not what they are signing...?


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