My decision to have Owen grow up a Signing Deaf person was based mainly on getting information into his brain without any barriers. The fact that he'll have a place to belong in the Deaf Community, if he so chooses; bonus.
If his choice is to reside mainly in the Hearing world? Totally cool. He'll have all the tools he needs at his disposal to succeed in either world.
And after a summer living outside of the Deaf bubble, I wasn't surprised that he'd begun to lean to one side;
Bea: "Owen. When you're all growed up? Are you going to marry a Deaf girl?"
Owen: "No. A Hearing girl."
Me: "Why Hearing? Why not Deaf like you?"
Owen: "I not Deaf. I Hearing."
Me: "Ok Sweetie."
And I let it go at that. Because I know where it came from.
His teacher this year is Deaf. All the way Deaf. With zero residual hearing and zero speech. He speaks so sees himself as different from her.
I love that he has a Deaf teacher. He has enough Hearing role models. The more Deaf ones? The better.
I met with her a few weeks ago for parent/teacher conference. And again, wasn't surprised when she told me that Owen prefers to express himself in English. But receptively, relies on ASL.
In the true spirit of Total Communication, Owen will be encouraged to express himself in whatever mode he's most comfortable. But his ASL skills will also be tweaked.
I fucking love his school.
As much as I love my ASL teacher. Who allowed me to switch from the Friday morning class; which I've been attending by myself, to the Thursday evening class; to which I can bring both Owen and Bea.
We had a blast last Thursday. Bea signing 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer'? Shit your pants cute.
And Owen coming downstairs Saturday morning, appearing in the kitchen, proudly signing;
Grabbing his 'Kung Fu Panda' book and marching into the playroom to do this?
You just shit your pants.
So this past Saturday I took my Speaking Hearing Signing Deaf kid to a holiday party, thrown by the local 'support group' for parents of kids with hearing loss.
I feel a distinct Us and Them vibe at these get togethers. More than half the kids in the group are mainstreamed; they don't use ASL.
So the Deaf kids play with the Deaf kids and the Hearing Impaired kids play with the Hearing Impaired kids. And the Deaf kid mommies chat with the Deaf kid mommies while the Hearing Impaired kid mommies chat with the Hearing Impaired kid mommies.
The only Deaf mommy and daddy gravitate toward the Deaf kid mommies. They are patient with us novice signers and I'm dying to ask them how they feel about the choice most of these parents have made to deny their children their world.
Eavesdropping on a conversation amongst Hearing Impaired kid mommies, I hear about their kids' struggles; being the only kid in class with hearing aids, difficulties making friends, problems hearing the teacher...
Square pegs. Round holes.
Sitting on the floor, a little one toddles by wearing hearing aids. I say something to him and his blank stare reminds me so much of Owen at that age. I sign to him. Still with the blank stare.
His mommy sits down next to me. Friendly conversation ensues.
He'll be three in a few months, and no, she hasn't chosen a school for him yet.
That thing she's wearing clipped to her shirt? A streamer that sends her voice straight to his hearing aids.
He still doesn't respond to her voice. She's frustrated. He's not speaking much yet. He's frustrated.
She asks me how I do it.
"What do you do in situations like this? It is so loud in here, he can't understand me even with this." Giving the gadget an annoyed flick.
I try really hard to not sound like a smug jerk, 'cause inside? I'm all smugness and jerkness;
I hope she heard me.