We have been faking being hearing for a little longer than two years now. We rocked out to the music. We chatted with each other in gibberish. We toss an object across the room and pretended to hear the noise. Out in the public, we nodded every time people spoke to us. Our family and friends knew about our secret plan and they went along with it.
When do you think is an appropriate time to inform our daughter that we are Deaf? I am considering
maybe when she turns 18, so she can move out if she wants to.
Coral is only two-year-old. She knows she has parents just like everybody else, but she has no idea that we are different from most parents. Having Deaf parents is normal for her. She is hearing, but we are raising her the Deaf way.
What does the Deaf way mean? We converse in ASL (American sign language), always have closed captioning on TV, use flashing lights or stomp our feet on the floor to get attention, write on papers to communicate with non-signers, etc.
We started signing to her right away when she was born. It was strange for us to sign to her as she would not look at us. She seldom paid attention to us. Imagine my surprise when at hardly six-months-old, she signed her first word, NO. She waved her index finger at people, our dogs or objects and said NO! She knew her first sign had to be NO. From there, her sign language and spoken language flourished. She learned both at the same time. She was paying attention after all!
She notices if closed captioning are not on the television and could not care less if the TV volume is off.
Coral LOVES to do facial expressions from early on. When she signs or says words, they often come with facial expressions. She also makes a lot of noises when she sign. Facial expressions and noisy sign language are common in the Deaf world.
She loves music. Every time her favorite show’s theme song comes on, she grabs me, drags me over to the TV and we start dancing to the song.
She knows to tap on my leg or shoulder to get my attention. She started doing that when she was a baby. Before she could walk, she crawled up to me and tapped on my leg. She knows to maintain eye contact while communicating with other people. However, she is being a typical 2-year-old nowadays so she ignores people on purpose.
Coral believes that all people know how to sign. Boy, how I wish that could be true. She gets discouraged when she tries to sign to other kids and they do not acknowledge her. I normally go to them and gestured to other kids to play with Coral. They were thrilled to play together. At first, other kids would try to communicate with Coral but they soon realized that she wouldn’t answer back. They managed to interact through gestures while playing instead. It is crazy how young children are more accepting of people different from them.
Sometimes, people would ask me if she is deaf because she prefers to sign.
When she gets older, she will realize that her parents cannot hear and talk with our voices. I hope when that day come, she will be proud of her Deaf parents and of her bilingual & bi-cultural life.
Life would be less complicated if we have a Deaf child since we already know what the child will go through. We will be ready to guide the Deaf child to prevent the same mistakes from occurring. Nevertheless, I am always up for new challenges. It has been a grand adventure navigating through life with a hearing bilingual & bi-cultural toddler.