When I started this blog I decided to write it from a hearing moms perspective about having a Deaf child and so this is my disclaimer today. I have no idea what it is like being a Deaf person or living a Deaf life. But, something deep hit me a few days ago that changed my perspective again about what being Deaf might mean or resemble.
My 5 year old Deaf son is treated the same exact way at home as his 7 year old hearing sister. We make it a point to give him the same opportunities and interactions, no special treatment for anyone. So as I routinely put them to bed something happened that changed me forever.
What’s my routine… well I turn on the hall way light, go into each child’s bedroom and kiss them good night as they lay in their beds. Usually there is a discussion about the activity the next day, mostly it’s me trying to get them to sleep so I can at least get in a few TV shows in before I pass out myself. Depending on who wins rock, paper, scissors I go into one room first over the other. Usually it’s Heath who wins over Presley because he waits til she shows what’s she’s got. LOL
But this particular night she won. So I go to her room first. Do all the rituals involved there, turn off the light and then see ya tomorrow. Then I head into Heaths room, do the same, talk about who is driving him to school and then off with the light.
As I leave his room he starts to scream at me. Of course I immediately go back in. I sit on his bed and ask him what’s wrong. He said Mom, I’m scared of the monsters.
This was the first I’ve really heard of him talking about that. But it comes with the age in my opinion. So I turned on the light and I said ok, let’s look in the closet and under the bed. See no monsters, I tell him! It’ll be ok no worries. I turn the light off and say all good? He gives me a thumbs up and puts his head under the covers. Then, I hear him crying. So I head back in. This time I leave the light off. The light shining in from the hall way is enough to light up his whole room anyway!
But it dawned on me, when the lights go out so does all the communication and what he knows in the world does too. I can’t treat him like Presley who I can just yell to from my room…. go to bed! There’s no monsters.
When we leave his room. All connection to us is gone and in that moment I had just a slight little bit of anxiety for him. So I asked him in the dark, hallway lite room, as soon as my adjusted….Does it make you feel uncomfortable when the lights go out, your eyes are everything, and his little face said it all.
I reassured him again and told him again….. really, there is no such thing as monsters, I promise. Let’s get up and look together and this time we will do it with the lights off. We spent a few minutes looking around his room to ensure that we had looked in all the crevices. When all was secure he jumped back into bed.
In the middle of the night he came to my side of the bed and asked to sleep next to me…. I couldn’t help but just think…. of course! You’re 5 and your scared. But even more scared when you’re trying to figure things out and you can’t see well and your eyes are the way you communicate.
The next morning, as I was fixing breakfast for the two of them I saw an intense conversation about how Heath was reassured, by me of course, that there were no such thing as monsters, while Presley felt the jury was still out. Heath stood his ground and said he wasn’t going to be scared anymore with much conviction and confidence.
I couldn’t help but think that morning, without sign language, Heath and I wouldn’t have been able to have those countless moments the night before giving him the confidence to say in the morning, There’s no such thing as monsters!!! ASL has given us a language to communicate in and I couldn’t help but think about all the Deaf children who are language deprived and unable to communicate what their feelings are and I imagined how they could potentially be scared without reassurance that everything is going to be ok because they couldn’t tell their parents.
My advice to parents with Deaf children….Do not put your trust in devices, give them the language that is their birthright to know so they can thrive, be confident, and can express themselves. So that at an early age you know what they are thinking and feeling, this way you give them the best that life has to offer.
This is my perspective.