Friday, November 1, 2013

Living the CODA Life

Being different growing up can be a tough road to hoe. Whether it’s braces or glasses or anything to make you stand out or set apart from the usual crowd, being different can just stink. But sometimes a kid will get lucky and be able to use his “difference” for good. Being a Child of Deaf Adults (CODA) is no different.

As you all may know, I’m the mother of three hearing/signing children. All three sign well and communication in the house flows pretty well. Whenever they have friends over or I’m at their school and need to talk with them in front of their peers, they all seem pretty easygoing about it. So, I decided to interview each one in private to see what they truly think…

ME: What is the best thing about being a CODA?
MOLLIE (age 17): Knowing a different language and meeting new people.
JACOB (age 15): I learned other ways to communicate and it’s fun.
NATALIE (age 13): It’s interesting to be able to sign and impress others with it.

ME: How about the worst thing?
MOLLIE: I get offended when someone talks about deafness being a bad thing.
JACOB: When I make a mistake or someone has a hard time reading my sign and I have to keep repeating myself.
NATALIE: I guess when I’m trying to talk and sign real fast and it’s easier just to talk.

ME: Are you singled out or teased at school when they find out your parent is deaf? Have you ever been?
ALL 3: No.
JACOB: The other kids think it’s cool to use my hands to talk.

ME: On a scale of 1 – 10, how well do you think you sign?
JACOB: 7.5

ME: Have you ever felt resentful that you have to sign when your mom’s around?
MOLLIE: Only when I’m trying to have a private conversation with someone else.

ME: And, finally, is there anything you’d like to say about being a CODA or having a signing deaf mother?
MOLLIE: It’s no different than having two hearing parents. I just get to be bilingual!
JACOB: Study hard and try to have fun with it.

I think the interviews went well and my kids seemed to feel comfortable being honest and open. It just goes to show all the naysayers that deafness doesn’t really affect parenting in and of itself. Just like everything else in this world—different doesn’t mean worse.