Thursday, September 23, 2010


After suffering through a trip with me to the hunting store to shop for Kenny’s birthday, I decided to treat my kids to a healthy lunch at Checker’s, a fast food joint. I was exhausted from the shopping trip (trying to figure out what kind of copper arrow is best through my daughter’s…uh…”creative” interpreting, really took the energy out of me), so I decided I would give the drive-thru a shot. My teenaged daughter said she would interpret what they said over the loud speaker and I would answer with my voice. Sounded good to m

“I’d like three cheeseburger meals, please,” I hollered into the speaker after Mollie gave me the go ahead. Blah, blah, blah…Mollie said she couldn’t understand what they were saying. So, I tried it again: “Three cheeseburger meals, please!” Again, Mollie couldn’t tell what the person inside was saying. I became frustrated and yelled, “I’m Deaf! I’m just gonna drive on up to the window!”

When I arrived at the window, the girl opened it and began to speak. I repeated my order for the third time. The girl’s eyes got huge and she looked extraordinarily startled, but I handed her my money, and she closed the window and went back inside.

I looked over to the passenger’s seat and Mollie sat there with huge eyes as well. “What? Why are you guys looking at me that way?”

“Mom, you just screamed your order into that girl’s face like you were talking to the speaker earlier.” Apparently, she wasn’t expecting to be yelled at when I drove up. Poor girl will have that moment of meeting this Deafie burnt into her mind for life.

But how was I supposed to know??? This is just another reason why I don’t like to use my voice – especially in public.

Last week, my family took a trip to the mall to see about clothing sizes. As my children were looking at clothes, I turned to my husband and said something. I had my hands full at the time, so he had no signs to go by.

“I can’t hear a word you’re saying. It’s really loud in the mall.” So, I increased my volume and he said it was perfect. Two minutes later, I said something else in the same “perfect” volume. Everyone within a 30-foot radius stopped and turned to look at me. Wide eyed, I smiled at them, and then turned to give Kenny a questioning expression.

His response: “Well…it wasn’t loud in the mall then.”

How was I supposed to know???

I do have a system to control my volume when I decide to use my voice. I ask the person I’m with to simply give me a pre-decided-on gesture when I’m too loud or too soft. It works well for the moment, but, when you’re out in public, the noise kind of varies, ya know?

And that’s just the volume.

Then there’s the fact that, every time I speak, people think I’m upset with them. Because of my pitch and my breathing (I’m guessing), I sound like I’m in a state of perpetual ticked-offness.  But how am I supposed to know???

And then, of course, there’s pronunciation in general. I’m a writer. Do you have any idea how long I’ve been pronouncing “genre” as gen-er? Yesterday, my son tried to explain that it’s pronounced John-ray. Now, how in the world am I supposed to know that? Just like “pilates.” I’ve always thought it was pronounced pilots. When my hubby corrected me, I thought he was pulling my leg. Trying to get me to say words wrong just for kicks.

But how am I supposed to know???

Monday, September 13, 2010


I was dreaming of the Deaf performer, Peter Cook. We were doing an ASL comedy sketch together. At first, the audience thought it was hilarious. Well, with Peter Cook, that kind of goes without saying. But as I got deeper and deeper into the dream, the audience started to leave. This wretched scent was filling the air and even I began to gag…

“Wake up,” Kenny jostled me from my sleep. I struggled to open my eyes in order to read his signs. But, at 2:30 AM, that wasn’t an easy feat. “The dog got sprayed with a skunk!! You have to get up and start giving her a bath. I’m late for work!”

“Where is she?” I got my fingers to begin to work.

“I put her in the bathroom.”

Stumbling to the bathroom, still half awake, I opened the door and was hit full blast with a smell that would make my Uncle Quimby proud. He was always saying that the bathroom was meant to smell that way. Well, Uncle Quimby, you must be smiling from that golden commode in the sky right about now.

I’d never encountered a skunk before in my life and hadn’t the faintest clue what to do. I picked up a bottle of the kids’ shampoo and poured it over my dog, Maggie’s, head. While I scrubbed as hard as I humanly could, my eyes glazed over from the fumes. Maggie, too, was temporarily blinded by the spray, so we were just two beings, alone in the dark, with a smell that could make even those with the strongest of flatulence cry. And the shampoo did nothing!

I decided that the best bet was to get the dog out of the house. Why was she there to begin with?? Why in the world would my husband let a freshly-sprayed-by-a-skunked dog immediately into the house, through the dining and living room, up the stairs, down the hall, and into the bathroom? But the point was moot. We all stunk… and the house was a disaster.

After getting my dog back outside, I needed to get to the store to buy the magic concoction to use when your dog has been sprayed. All you have to do is mix hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and Dawn dish soap together and it works miracles! Forget the tomato juice, folks! That just makes your dog smell like a skunked tomato. But in order to use this miracle solution, I had to go back outside (where the smell still lingered), get in the van (yet another place to add fumes), and venture into a 24 hour supermarket.

I made it to the market OK. I only lost 29 brain cells and the feeling in my right leg. I got out of the van and sniffed myself. Maybe no one will notice, I thought.

As I entered the front of the store, the ten people there scattered like cattle. Screams seemed to ricochet off the walls and made my body vibrate. People were ducking behind counters and running for the chips to hide themselves. NO! Please don’t come near me! What have I ever done to you??? I could hear them clearly…and I’m Deaf…

Never before had I had such a clearing through a store to get to where I needed to be. I was like Moses and the customers were the Red Sea. But instead of a stick, all I needed was to move in their general direction. It was powerful. I liked it. Until I arrived at the check out counter and no one would help me.

I got what I needed, I did indeed get back home in the van, and I cleaned up that dog. But the house is another matter entirely. The damage has been done—to the house itself and everyone in it. But don’t worry about us. We will again walk upright…eventually. And, if I ever do get to do a skit with Peter Cook? I’ll have plenty of material with work with.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


"But I was home on time, Mom! I've been in the bathroom!"

Now, how was I supposed to know if he was telling the truth? No one else was in the house and he's usually pretty far as I know. So, I let it go. After all, he was home safe and sound. But how was I supposed to set the standards high when the kids have an advantage over me in that area?

Fact is, once they're out of my sight, there's  simply no way to know what's happening. They can tell me how obedient they've been, but how do I really know? I can follow them around and check on them incessantly, but what mother wants to have to do that?

Being a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) isn't always easy, but you gotta admit, there's a lot they can get away with because Mom and/or Dad's ears don't pick up the way other parents' do. And it's hard for me, as a mother, to accept this.

However, as frustrating as the situation may be, it isn't completely without humor....

Saturday, I had a family come to our home in regard to their homeschooled daughter taking an American Sign Language class from me. They arrived right on time. I sat them on the big couch; my interpreting husband sat on the little couch; and I sat across from everyone in a chair.

Now this is a business, so I'm doing my darndest to ensure that the meeting and interview go as professionally as possible. I've told the children to stay in their rooms. I had everything written up and tried to explain what exactly the course entailed. All the while this was happening, the mother, seated at the far end of the couch, kept glancing off to the side, wide-eyed, and looking a bit disturbed. I chalked it up to nerves and continued on.

It wasn't until later that night, when my husband made a remark that the family had probably thought we were animal torturers, that I found out just what the mother's disturbed looks were for.

See, my 10-year-old daughter had a friend over. Her room is right next to our living room. Seems that, while I was trying hard to look all professional and confident, these two rugrats were in her room, playing target practice with the cat!

"Get her! Go that way and stop her!"
"Ouch! She just scratched me!"
"Quick, throw a pillow at her!"

And the entire time, the cat was mewing and screeching, calling for help.

So there you have it. As a Deaf parent of hearing kids, I have to face the fact that there will be times when I'm out of the loop or oblivious to their actions. And this is with a 13, 11 and 10-year old. Just wait till they're all teenagers!!!