The other night, I was laying bed, watching the auditions for the new show, “The X Factor,” when something hit me. It was my teenaged daughter, Mollie, trying to get my attention with a sock. Apparently, I was so engrossed in the show that I didn’t notice her standing in the corner, jumping up and down and waving her arms. She’d been doing this for the past five minutes, but, hey, I was watching an interesting segment!
See, there was a young man on the show. He was the only “normal-sized” member of an all-dwarf family (those were the terms the family used). It really melted my heart, because what I observed was the ease the family had with each other. This guy (who, if I remember right, was still a teenager) thought nothing of getting down on his knees for a big mama hug or looking down to have a totally natural conversation with his father. Am I starting to sound ignorant yet? I am ignorant of that culture and life. But really! It was the naturalness that struck me (aside from the dirty, balled-up sock I had to peel out of my hair). He never knew any different, so there was no judgment of the things he had to do with the members of his family.
That made me think about my own kids. Youngsters, ages 11, 12 and 14, who signed before they ever spoke and think nothing of living in both the Deaf and Hearing cultures. Standing in the room, jumping up and down, pelting their mother with slimy, old pieces of clothing, is never given a second thought. It just is what it is. It’s a fact of life around here. Sign Language is no more embarrassing for them than back-flips are to clowns. OK. That made no sense. I’m not in the mood to Google other comparisons at the moment, so just go with it.
Seriously though. I love the fact that the kids aren’t embarrassed about the differences in our family. Even my teenager likes to hang out with my Deaf friends, “because they’re funny and have funny faces.” Hmmm. OK, maybe that one isn’t the greatest example. She just likes the animation of ASL, but those are the words this genius chose to use, so I typed them.
Stomping on floors, “speaking” through windows, using facial grammar, heck, even jumping up and down in the corner of the room for five minutes, are natural expressions of needing to communicate. I like that. I like that I’m not seen by them as weird or embarrassing. Well, yes, I am, but it has nothing to do with my deafness and that’s my point. All moms are weird and embarrassing to their kids at some point. But I’m not more so. And that makes me happy. Mom is Deaf. We need to do this and that to have a full and rich relationship with her. It just is what it is. Now, someone come over here and do my laundry, so I don’t have to deal with dirty socks in my hair anymore.