When The Deaf Child Is Ready!

For us ready means a lot. We are hearing parents with a Deaf child. Ready means a lot, didn’t I say that already…. What are we actually ready for, the journey… the life… the child? As we reflect on our last 5 years, we say… what has life been preparing us for, difficulty, adversity, differing opinions. I think all of it. Heath is a child confident in himself…he understands who he is and what makes him the way he is. He tells us when he’s had enough. As he says… I am Deaf… I am proud and yes… I am loud. It’s almost like he says internally… hear me roar because no one else will do it for me so I will do it for myself.

Ready for what?!? Ready for the world, no but seriously… he’s ready to take it on. Hearing or Deaf does it matter to him… No! He reminds me a lot of my grandparents on both sides. Determined to do what they wanted. Determined to guide their own lives and their own paths. Genetics… they are strong. Those same genetics say you will Be Deaf… those same genetics say… you will be Deaf and proud… those same genetics will say… Yeup. I’m Deaf so what! This has been the first time in 5 years when I said… Yeup he’s ready and and Yeup…. so are we!

So We Can Count… ASL style.

So I’ve been waiting for the day that my little was kindergarten ready…. one of the things on the list for all kids counting to 100 whether Deaf or Hearing. The joy you feel when your kid says all the numbers is just as magical as when they sign all the numbers. He does all the nuances of what a hearing child would do. It’s just so amazing. We’ve doubted ourselves many times every step of the way. But it’s little moments like this when we say…. Yeup we did the right thing. 😍😍😍 #katherinekovacs #ecefremont #csdfremont

The all Deaf baseball team!…. in Little League.

The all Deaf baseball team!…. in Little League.

It’s been quite sometime since we have blogged about Heath and his Deaf journey. Could it be that we are just a family trying to survive in this crazy rat race we all call life? Maybe. Or could it be that having a Deaf child just fits into our family dynamics and so our daily life is just that. Daily life and there’s nothing significant to blog about. 😉

However, we have hit a major milestone. The day your little person falls in love with a sport. It took us a few years to find what he liked but we think we’ve nailed it! Baseball! Whether he’s good or not that is quite debatable. He can hit the ball and so that’s all we ask for. Thanks to one courageous parent who rallied 11 Deaf children and their parents to form an all Deaf baseball team in a hearing league, these kids rallied!!

Is it a challenge…. Just ask their coaches. Teaching any kid the fundamentals of sports while they draw in the dirt or chase butterflies in the outfield is a task but, add kids who are visual learners and that adds a whole other layer. But, the coaches hard work has paid off. Look at these kids.

https://luciarogerson.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/img_5884-1.movWhat does this prove.. Deaf kids can! Don’t put our kids in a box of what they may not achieve. Don’t make the hearing parents feel like their kids will never have this kind of experience unless they fit in with others. The medical community scares parents into thinking that their kids options are limited. I’d argue that it’s the system that limits our kids! Not the other way around.

In the meantime check these rock stars out as they blow through the stereotypes!

https://luciarogerson.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/img_5689-trim-1.mov

We Made Friends Along the Way. The Deaf Journey.

I made a statement to Heath that I would document his journey in 2017 every month.  However, I think when I made that commitment; I was going on a journey myself and did not know it, hence why I did not blog every month.  i failed at my commitment to educate hearing parents on the Deaf journey.  I guess maybe a year ago, I felt like there was so much to show about Deafhood, Hearing parents with a Deaf child, and our family in general and now that time has passed, I am not so sure.
Honestly, there is not much more to be said anymore.  The reality is… we are a Hearing family, who chose NOT to use devices to define our child’s existence, and decided to embrace everything about who he is, give him a Deaf identity, and allow him to fit into our family like everyone else does….awkwardly, whether you are hearing or Deaf.
I think the journey we are on as a family is truly just that.  A family journey.  I remember vividly walking into California School for the Deaf in Fremont and not knowing a single person and walking out knowing these two women, who would shape our journey as a family for the better.

Now we shared a New Year’s together with our families!  They are not only Heath’s Deaf Family but also our friends!  We are also blessed to have them all in our lives and we are blessed to share this journey called life together.


Our ultimate goal for Heath was to be able to have long lasting meaningful friendships with Deaf people and I think we have given him that foundation.  0-5 years old is critical for a child and I think that he is there.  He is confident in himself, who he is, and will be quite all right!
I guess the wrap up is… we just do not really have anything inspirational to blog anymore.  Our Deaf child is Five years old, fluent in ASL, has a Deaf Identity, is being raised in Deaf Culture, and Oh… by the way, has hearing parents.

However, really that is it.  ASL is Heath’s first language, it is the language of our home, it is the only thing he knows, and it is what makes sense for us.  As we move away from the controversy of devices vs. non-devices, we really just want to make sure of one thing… BE THE BEST YOU CAN BE, but in the end we thank Heath for giving us all friends along the way.

When the lights go out and you are Deaf.

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.

Rear view Mirror Conversations: The 4 Year Old Deaf Experience

One of the things I always looked forward to with my second child was the conversations you have in a car.  Living in the Bay Area, California traffic is no stranger to us.  When we are in the car with our kids we do many things to entertain ourselves.  But when Heath was born, my husband and I were always sad about not having the same experience in the car with him as we did with Presley.

But was I wrong!  While in the beginning, it was challenging, now that our ASL has progressed and so has his, we are having many conversations in the car as if we would with our hearing child.  It brings joy to our hearts that we can have these same conversations with our Deaf child as we could with our hearing child.  We both are having the same experience that we thought we were going to be missing.

With rearview mirror in tow and not violating any legal laws, we have had many conversations.  Some are a follows.

Example 1 – CONVO all in ASL:

Heath:  Hey, we are going the wrong way to school!

Me: Nope, we are going a different way because the GPS is saying we will get to school faster.

Heath: What is a GPS?

Me: Well, it is a device helps me understand the fastest way to get you to school.

Heath:  I think you should go the way Daddy goes.

Me: Nope, I am going to follow the GPS.  trust me

Such a thinker! Here’s another example. 

CONVO all in ASL:

Heath: Why am I rushing to get in the car?

Me: Just get in…

As we pull out of the garage…

Heath:  I do not understand why we are rushing.

Me: Well, we are late.

Heath:  Why are we late?

Me: Because sometimes we just cannot get it together at home.

20 minutes goes by… closer to school.

Me:  Sorry, but there is no time play at school before it starts.

Heath: (With much distain). Mom, I saw you…

Me: You saw me doing what?

Heath: I saw you putting on your make up and all making your face pretty and now I am late for school, I do not get to play, and now I have to go just in the classroom without free time in the playground.

Me:( laughing ) I’m so sorry. I’ll be more considerate next time. 

These are amazing conversations that he and I have together without me worrying about if he can say any words or whether or not his speech is correct.  We have these conversations together in the car that I would normally have with my hearing child.

What is the takeaway?

You can do the same things with your Deaf child in ASL as with your hearing child…. Open your mind to the possibilities and make their world as big as yours!  You’d surprise yourself on how much fun you will have!

It’s Not Easy Raising a Deaf Child.

Why?  As I sat, down to write, this I tried to list the things that made raising a Deaf child difficult and when I listed them, they just seemed ridiculous.  While singing a song, having a conversation in the car and first words are all things we miss, the joys outweigh the difficult parts.  I guess we have not always felt that way.  It has taken years of getting to know Heath as a person and understanding the culture he is a part of, to not care about the things we used to put a lot of energy worrying about.  Adjusting your life as a parent to your child’s life is really something parents no matter what their child is or is not, do to accommodate that little person.  

And I guess the real difficult part about our raising a Deaf child with ASL only has been on us as parents not for him as a child. He’s had a positive experience being raised this way and it’s really what we wanted for him from the beginning of this journey.  But I guess even though we find these things I’ve listed below a little ridiculous, they are somethings people just don’t talk about.

We aren’t going to get “rid” of our hearing friends and so finding a balance of making time for our friends we’ve had for years and making time to make new Deaf friends has been a challenge. There are times when we choose to hang out with our hearing friends. Most of our friends children like playing with Heath but now that they are older it’s harder including him in activities because he doesn’t understand what’s going on. While Presley herself tries to make sure he’s included being 7 herself sometimes he gets left out. It’s a tremendous responsibility for her and so sometimes he ends up playing by himself because he doesn’t want to wait for her to interpret or he watches tv.  We are guilt ridden when this happens and we pay attention to him as much as we can. But it’s still hard.  It was easier when he was a toddler, babies just figure it out somehow together since the way they play is different.  Now he’s a little more aware of his surroundings and understands the differences between hearing friends and Deaf friends. 

Going to a family gathering and being able to communicate fluently with everyone and not being able to…It’s just sad! And for a family gathering that happens once year, you can’t expect 75 year old “aunt sarah” who you yourself only see once a year, to learn ASL fluently, it’s just unrealistic. And then there’s all the questions at said gathering…. why doesn’t the boy talk…. why haven’t you implanted him yet…. yada yada yada…. it’s all just so sad.  Oh and the ever ASL is such a beautiful language comment, even though I just spent the last 5 minutes telling Heath to behave himself and if he doesn’t he’s gonna get a timeout. Not any ASL poetry going on in that conversation. Annoying but sad since you have explain these things every year.  Sometimes you just don’t go because it’s easier not to. 

And there are just times when your hands are full and yelling to the people in another room is just more convenient and easier but your Deaf child is sitting there looking at you like…. I know you said something what was it.  Guilty! We are guilty of doing this and then after we feel guilty about doing it.  There are times when for Presley it’s just easier to tell us what is going on with herself than to sign it. So we let her. Guilty! We are guilty and we feel guilty.  Communication in our home is just one of those things where we have a rule. If a Deaf person is in the room, we sign. But we do break the rule with Heath and it sucks.  ASL isn’t our first language and there are times when it’s just easier to say it. Doesn’t make it right but we do it. 

But with those things said, I’m not sure I would change anything about our lives now.  In order to build a relationship with a Deaf person, you have to look them straight in the eyes. People don’t do that much anymore since we are all connected by our technology and by our devices. It’s easy to talk to Presley over the phone or in the car or even just sitting next to her without ever looking at her in the face once.  But with Heath, we have to sit him in front of us, look at his face and give him our 100% attention. We have the privilege of looking at him straight in the face to get to know who is he as a person. Looking at him straight in the eyes and knowing when he’s lying to us because his face says it all. Looking at him directly to communicate how much we love and care about him is truly unique and I’m not convinced we would change anything about this experience.  While it can be difficult at times it truly is a blessing to have him a part of our lives. He’s made us better people by just being him.