why are you sorry?

After an interesting development in June, I have yet to announce something. The reason why I have held back is because “Oh, I’m sorry.”  Discussing with one of my bosses and my husband, both are of the same agreement that it is instinctive and automatic that one responds “I’m sorry” to something that they have no control over.

It is like hearing someone say “I’m sorry” when one announces that one is deaf. Why are you sorry? What did you do that constitutes an apology?  Accidentally tripping someone and saying “I’m sorry” is genuine compared to being sorry that one is deaf, white, or female – or also being a short person. Oh well.

apologies-are-great-but-they-dont-really-change-anything-you-know-what-does-action-quote-1

From picturequotes.com. I have a poster up in my classroom that I refer students to after they apologize.

The concept of ‘sorry’ has been overdone.  It feels like an excuse to justify someone’s feeling of awkwardness or whatever it is that they feel at the moment of the announcement.  Let’s take how students deal when they do something they should not have done. They come up to me and say “I’m sorry.”  It means nothing. See picture to the right.

Really, it does not.  The action behind the ‘sorry’ means more than the word itself. I guess that’s why I am not crazy about “I’m sorry”. How many false feelings have been shown over time when the word ‘sorry’ is used frequently?

Then one would ask “what else can we say?”  What about “shucks!”, “damn”, or a simple hug?  Disappointment is acceptable as well. After all, what we are, who we are, and the why we are, are a part of life and that experience is not necessarily something to apologize about.

So with this, my announcement is: I have stage 1 breast cancer. Work in progress.

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Advice for Parents…

As a teacher, this is something I want to share with you. A lot of students, I teach high school, have phones of various technologies.  Depending on school corporations or high schools, there are rules about the use of electronic devices. Devices take away from peer interaction and learning, guaranteed.

schooltexting2

Hiding the phone ain’t going to work.

Whoa! Wait!  What about using electronic devices for classwork or projects?  If our classwork and projects require, suggest or allow use of electronic devices, then that is worked within that restriction.

Otherwise – no. I find myself irritated by….the concept that the parents are an exception to the use of electronic devices in school.  I often find myself catching students on their phones (first, the subject I am teaching is American Sign Language and second, I am a visual person) and finding out that their parents are in contact with them, sometimes another relative as well.

Why?  Why?  I just wonder if their education is valuble or not?  Why?

Even on a dumbfounding aspect – employers contacting the students during school hours too and expect to be answered quickly. Really?  There has to be a boundry of respect for time established.

As a parent, I have to hold myself accountable to how my children learn and use phones/devices. They do not have phones…yet and when they do, they will have responsibilities and so will my husband and I.

schooltexting1

Observe the students’ behavior and the information that is on the board.  How is the phone helping with learning?

I have other jobs as well and co-workers or employers know that I will answer when I can, often after hours, during lunch break or other available times. They acknowledge and accept that I cannot answer them until I can.  My children will have to expect this as well. I will not pick up my phone during teaching class to answer something, why should students do the same?

So parents, please please please think about how distruptive it is when students answer your texts (especially) or calls during class time.  Sit with your child and explain the importance of being responsible during their time in school and their electronic devices.

Supporting your school district educators and raising responsible children ready for the real world will go a long way.   Thanks!

schooltexting3

How do you feel looking at this student?

Additional resources I found interesting (updated 27 October 2017):

 

The Wholeness of Deaf Children

 

DeafchildrenentiledDeafcultureAs a parent and as a deaf child of hearing parents, I find myself frequently disappointed that parents do not take their deaf kids out to meet others who are like them, regardless of what language is used by individuals.

Why is this important?  I believe strongly that deaf children need to know that they are human beings, who happen to be deaf.  How in the world of creation (Nature or God) can a group of deaf people create a language and culture out of ‘deficiency’ or an absence of sense?  How?!

HearingparentDeafAdult

From ASL 4 Deaf Kids page on Facebook

The medical profession likes to believe that their answers are the accurate pathways for parents to take. This prevents parents from being able to be encouraged, learn and grow as human beings, in turn their kids to do the same as they grow up into their lifetime journey.

What this means for parents is that they need to take advantage of events that bring a wholeness to individuals and to families.  Whether it be a deaf/ASL Coffee Chat event, a community event such as Deaf Kids Fair (Cincinnati, OH), NWIDHHC Deaf Festival (Northwest Indiana), or American Society for Deaf Children (2015 Conference in Indianapolis, IN), a parent gathering with their kids (for socialization) or basically anything that gives parents and children a chance to be whole – TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THOSE EVENTS.

A child’s life should need not be dictated by medical opinions or the fanciness of technology. The child’s life needs to be encompassed by the WHOLE. Denial of the ‘whole’ is denying the opportunity for growth, adaptation, experience that builds into the mind, soul, body and spirit of self.  If this is not denied to most children who have their hearing, why should it be denied to deaf children?

Remember, we have defied and defined the concept of human culture and language by introducing our own signed languages and cultures. Why deny this natural occurrence for deaf children?

Journey as a Deaf Parent

Me: I am a parent of two children.  I am also deaf. So that makes me a deaf parent.

You: Okay, what is the point?  There are different kinds of parents naturally so what would make you a different set of parent?

Me: My children are. . . hearing.

You: So what?!  So are the other 90% of the people who are deaf who have children.

Me: Precisely.

Me: For me, my children are not hearing.  They are just . . . children.

You: Yeah, right!  They are still hearing because you are deaf.

Me: Perhaps, perhaps.  They are still children. That is their primary responsibility.

You: Wait. What? You are deaf, they are hearing. Period.

Me: That is the first mistake many people make.

You: *sputters* A mistake? No way!  It is fact!

Me: Yes it is a fact; however, it is not the dominant fact.  The most important bond between a parent and a child is communication.

You: Yeah, communication.  That means you should speak, not sign or at least, speak and sign at the same time.

Me: Communication is not only limited to language.  There are simple messages that can be translated through understanding how communication works. For language, my children get both, ASL and English.  Is it an easy feat? Naturally for any bilingual families, it is not.  We do not only need to battle within our families, also battle a world outside whose views are limited based on their inexperience and ignorance.

You: Okay, okay. A point I ceded to you.  Still they have to be a part of the world bigger than your family. (They are still hearing.)

Me: Labels mean nothing, my children are whole. Being hearing is one small part, just as speaking two languages are a small part. Just like me being deaf is a small part of me. Each part has its role to play in each persons life from birth to death.

You: So does that mean to be hearing could be problematic for your children?

Me: Yes.

Everything is WHOLE

Don’t change your plans for education, discipline, communication or socialization. What you would do is change how you would approach those avenues when you meet your child for the first time, deaf.

A common theme touted by the people in the oral education profession is “Doing Deaf Differently”.  The problem with this is that doing deaf is still no different from what is real.  The excuse is cochlear implants.

Being deaf differently is embracing your child’s deaf as a part of it – not ignoring or denying it.  By embracing the whole and while in process, not making it the ultimate aspect of the child.  Incorporate the deaf in the child, keep the child WHOLE.

Do not pick or choose which is primary – deaf or the perception of ‘hearing’.  When a choice is made either way, it severely limits the WHOLE child.  What many do not realize is that what you do to a child at the age of 2 or 7 will have a lasting impression as an adult.  The limits will severely limit the child from becoming a WHOLE adult.

Do not limit yourself to short-term goals or achievements.  Life is a journey. By creating limits without going with your instincts will produce an environment of reduced self-esteem, poor language skills and inadequate communication/socialization skills.  A child does not live to be a child forever. Allowing the deaf aspect to be ultimate or ignoring the deaf aspect will shunt the child even as he/she grows to become an adult.

Give your child EVERYTHING you can.  Remember that the illusion of a child to be like you is the disillusion of reality. The ability to naturally grow with nature and/or nurture will be limited on the glorification of ‘deaf’.  Embrace the child.

A parent of a deaf or hard of hearing child will face the extreme ends of language acquisition and educational method arguments. Ever rarely will they hear the real stories of those who are smack dab in the middle.  One side celebrates with false stories while the other side lives in an oppressed reality.  They TELL you what is right or wrong.

There is no right or wrong answer, only answers that fit your child, your family and you the best.  The answer for you may not be the right answer for your child or your family.  A child’s journey needs not be limited to one method.  When the child grows up provided with everything, he/she will choose the paths that open for them.  They will take what they have learned and make choices – sometimes not wise but if we cannot let the children learn, how can they be successful adults?  Limiting the child to one way of life is limiting the opportunities and potential for access to resources which will fit the person they will become.

Expect the unexpected and still prepare for the lifetime of those who are involved to be impacted by your child you are raising. Do not lose your dreams, challenge them and find resources and tools to enhance; not limit the potential.

Everything IS a choice, an option. This is your child; whether he/she is deaf, male/female, blonde, brown-eyed, music lover, a tree hugger or so on.  This little kid is ultimately a child and in the long run, an adult.  You will be overwhelmed.  You will go through dark periods in life – what human does not?

A person who is Deaf is unique to the gift they bring to life, yet they are not unique.  Why? They are ultimately human.

Technology is not a miracle.  The reality of technology is that they are and function similar to a human body.  Like the human body, technology ages, gets upgrades, fails and lasts only a lifetime.  Technology is just a tool, not the ultimate solution or a miracle. It is never a full answer to an issue.

As the misconception shared with the world, “doing deaf differently” is not ignoring the deaf, but embracing it, making it a part of a WHOLE.  Not denying its existence, like those who prefer the oral method.

Life is chaos. Everything we go through; its ups and downs, the good and the bad. Life is a journey, it is not meant to be limited. How many opportunities will a parent miss because of the limitations placed on the child?  Limitations to the child is not the only aspect, when limits are placed, the parents, family members and the community is equally limited, even with the best resources. One cannot deny a part of the whole which they are.  When the denial of a part of whole happens, the sense of identity “wanderlust” takes place.  The concept of self is less explicit.

Embrace the world. Do not ever hide your child. They are a gift within ourselves to remind us of a childhood we outgrew. Even as parents, we are reminded of the freedom to do what one wants to do in the perception of education, socialization and communication.  Life is an education, a gift. Do not limit life with one option – give EVERYTHING, share EVERYTHING.

Be unlimited in life. Be responsible. Be REAL! Do not be blinded by illusions. Get everything. Life is a responsibility. There is no right or wrong answer, only everything which you get and share.

a Journey

Identity: MINE

Growing up, I have always been categorized in two groups when asked: “Is your family all deaf?” and “No, you are faking it, you’re hearing.”  The answer to both is No, I have a whole hearing family and I am not faking it.  I may sign proficiently at the age of 11 (when the ‘deaf family’ was asked), more likely as an Easterner (while I am a Midwestern) and respond proficiently as a hearing speaker with excellent speech reading skills…

I still remain who I am. Even with the decisions I make in attempt to compartmentalize my life according to the wishes of both cultures and languages, I live MY life.  Honestly, I cannot compartmentalize myself.

I posted this on my profile at Facebook on 30 March: Statement of the day: I never thought about what they wanted me to do at home – I separated two languages and cultures – one at home and one at school. I made the decision for my family – when they really wanted me to shut up and start signing. My parents made the decision for me to have both – be bilingual and bi-cultural as is my natural right as a human being. I denied them the same right they gave me. They were not aggressive with themselves to demand the same right. Love can make us blind. Society uses that love to create barriers on all sides. It is natural and God’s gift for all of us to be diverse, to be who we are intended to be. I was accused by my mother at a soccer game for not signing at home – 100% – I told her that she never told me to shut up and start signing. My parents took all of my siblings to ISD for sports or some activities, I went to theirs when I was home. I thank God for my parents every chance I get. I’m sure my siblings will say the same, our mother always told us how proud of us she and Dad are, I often said back – we are too of you. Dad doesn’t have to say it – he shows it. This is a relationship I would like to see in all families but as we are naturally human, it will be difficult, but not impossible.

I was at a playgroup recently and the deaf adults who have an active role with families were asked to share their experience growing up which included the communication range in which we were expressive or receptive. It is certainly informative.  I mentioned that we continue to struggle with our identity because of the demands society wants us to be in compliance.  We do know who we are but we have a hard time being true to ourselves.  While the other two grew up oral, they are currently bilingual.

Somewhere in the aegis of AG Bell is a comment oft heard: “Do not acknowledge that your child is deaf. The deafness will go away.”  The problem with this is if we deny a part of who we are… a key ingredient to a whole person, we will live a life that is not our own. The child will grow into an adult struggling doubly because the child/adult has yet to accept the fact that he/she is deaf and that it is only a part of who they are.

Deny the deafness, is to make it prominent. Stand out. It becomes painfully obvious that the person is deaf when it is denied. I am not saying that one should publicize that one is deaf but to accept the deaf within self and approach life as he/she is within, not so demanded by society to conform.  One simple fact, we will never be hearing, ever.

Yeah … but but but … technology… we’re still deaf (or hard of hearing).

Back to me (not my favorite topic): So growing up in both cultures and languages, how did that happen?  I was ‘kicked’ out of the house at 8 years old to deaf clubs, organizations, deaf church, playing with children like me; however, I was not limited to that side of my life.  I also participated in Girl Scouts, did songs for several performances (signed not spoken, y’all would need good earplugs), went to visit my family and did whatever I had to do as a growing child – as any other child, even played baseball.  Heck, I went to London to cheer in the Westminister’s New Year Parade, a sole deaf girl with no official interpreter and oy, I cannot remember how many gals and guys were there, probably over a hundred.

I ALWAYS KNEW I AM DEAF. ALLOWING THAT TO BE A PART OF ME ENABLED ME TO ACHIEVE MORE, RECEIVE RESOURCES, TOOLS AND SUPPORT AND DID NOT LET ME STAND OUT ON BASIS OF THAT PARTICULAR ASPECT THAT MANY DO NOT LIKE.  I am sorry, not for me, but for those who keep on denying that I am deaf (others as well).  I only stood out because of ME.

MEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEME.  NOT THEM or DEAF

The same can be said for the other side; however, my being deaf has allowed me to say what I want to say.  The deaf community may not be happy with what resources and tools I have in my bags to communicate with the world or to find ways to work with the people.  Their experience is different from mine whether in past generations or current generations; however, I feel for them.  It pains me the most because of experience with my family and my life which I still live.  If the deaf community remains closed to the world, it will be difficult to work on a level of comprehension, enlightenment and equal compassion.

That is something most people will not understand, the identity is not meant to be society’s, it is meant to be mine.

I am deaf and danging proud of it.

Just remember, it is only a part of me. Pieces of the puzzle. A petal on a rose. A leaf on a tree. A poison on a poisonous frog.

I am the part of the sum of whole.

For Muzz

Muzz waiting to go outside

This is in memory of Smokey Muzzle, aka Muzz. Born October 7, 2003 and passed October 21, 2011.  His time may have been up but the ending was in cruelty. Muzz is now romping the Rainbow Bridge playing with my mother and his dog relatives.

His ending came in cruelty? Yes; however, let me lead to that. Muzz was an over friendly dog. Always excited to meet people, new or old. He also liked to chase two wheelers. Since we got him, he was always hyper excited. In some ways, it was good so he could scare away the unwanted and not good if we had new friends or other people we expected so we would warn them about coming over. Muzz was also an explorer, he liked to go to the back and search out whatever he was looking for. Muzz also loved to sing when we sang.

I know we should leash our dogs often; however, they do need to learn boundaries, after all, dogs have been our best friends for over thousands of years. They were the first to be ‘domesticated’ and humans and dogs have had a reciprocal relationship. I use the word domesticated loosely because we could be also domesticated towards dogs.

Despite that relationship, dogs continue to be the most misunderstood among cultures and society.  Koreans eat dogs, fine – leave them alone. We should not be dictating what other cultures should not or should do, when what we do to dogs here in America does amount to cruelty. I know I cannot rescue dogs (or other animals) because it breaks my heart. We have families who love their dogs, like mine and other families who abandon their dogs when they move. We have stereotypical behaviors to certain breeds such as pitbulls, dobermans, and those ‘bad dogs’; when it all amounts to how we treat them.

Humans are animals; a friend or two may disagree with me, which is fine – makes for fun arguments. The difference is our biological make up. Dogs do have emotions, they do have characteristics and they do know what goes on. We may not speak the same language, at our core we are the same.

We knew that having dogs there would be some limitations but that did not have us love them any less.  We have another dog and she is the total opposite of Muzz. Our neighbors and few people who frequent our street have gotten to know Muzz and find that he is only just a friendly dog who loves people; however, some people don’t give a crap and he was hit by a bike hard and the person who rode that bike fled the scene.

Oddly, this was dark at night, which my husband only knew was a biker. Riding a bike at night with no safety and in 40 degree temperature and he hits Muzz hard that we couldn’t find any external injuries, to know that it was internal injuries he died from.

Muzz was a good dog regardless his flaws and perfection.  May he rest in peace and live in our hearts forever.

Like humans, animals are innocent until proven guilty. Like humans, animals are stereotyped by a few animals within their species. Like humans, animals can be cruel. Animals can live side by side with humans with respect to boundaries. Why do you think territorial wild animals are attacking humans and why some of them have become extinct since the advent of humans?  A friend and I agree that we need to become stewards, not masters of our earth.

On a side note, the 911 center did not even help us out at all. If Muzz was shot

Stayed out in the blizzard for couple of hours

the kid was hurt, they would come out. Otherwise, de nada. My husband asked about the vets, the police told him not to bother. We live across from an animal ‘hospital’ but other than their lights being on, no one is there after hours. I called once after hours and they said in an emergency, call 911. So if 911 can’t help us, I wonder. I do not want an ‘eye for an eye’ for the biker but I sincerely hope that there is remorse in his heart.

Update: Today, my husband clarified something, he saw three bikers bike away from our house before he found Muzz so we know it is intentional.  In the back of my mind, those three are future human murderers. Sad isn’t it?

Beyond the Ear: Why Say No?

The title does not intend for the concept of no being permissive but a responsible and logical answer.

A deaf teen asks his/her parents and the parents answer:

Can I learn how to drive?  No  Can I learn how to do the dishes? No  Can I feed the dog? No… Can I, Can I and the ‘can I’s go on… each with an answer of ‘No’. Finally the teen asks, ‘Why are you saying no?’, the parents answer back, “Because you are deaf”.

So the power of No when it comes to doing what basically are daily life skills can be demeaning to a child or an teen who has been constantly told “No” all his/her life.  Why should being deaf or a person with a disability be a barrier to living life to its fullest?

What happens to this person when his parents passes away? Everything has been done for him/her and he/she is dependent on his/her parents to do the job that he/she needed to learn years ago. Not only is it essential, these daily life skills such as cleaning the room, doing dishes, taking out the dog for a walk or driving enables a person to be independent most of the time. What I mean by “most of the time” is that it is okay to ask for help when needed. Really, it is okay to let them live and learn and help when they ask for it. Really.

The word “No” often is a negative term and can act as a double stigmata when it comes to allowing people with disabilities to learn various skills, find their limits and create solutions to those limits. Often, ‘no’ is a discipline tool, intended to teach a lesson or provide a rationale to why an action should not be done; however, when it comes to people who are deaf or others who have disabilities, it is a barrier.

A barrier, yes. It is a barrier between this person’s ability to achieve to his/her fullest, accessing resources available in the environment and becoming who they are intended to be. It is also a barrier to the parents, they will not be able to see their child become independent. They will probably endure complaints about the inability of their child to function without their help.

It is astonishing to see that the children of ‘no’s can be found in nursing homes, group homes, in jails, in mental health institutes because they are unable or limited to skills that they have learned because of one single word that is pretty much a stigmata thanks to the medical field (the media holds some responsibility as well), ‘deaf’.

Being deaf is not whole of each individual. There are many parts to this individual, once you say ‘no’, you are saying no to the whole on basis of one little part.  Saying “no” is a huge responsibility, often with repercussions.

Go beyond the ear and see the person for the whole, who they are, will be and can be. Be responsible for their life and future.  Why say no?  Let them live their life with your experience and education, let them experience life on their terms with your support.

Left Out of Family Conversations

Facebook Message Circulating: “Being left out of a hearing family/friend’s conversations just because I’m the only deaf person in the family or circle of friends. Whoever is hearing needs to realize it is so hurtful for your deaf relative to feel left out. If you have a deaf relative, please always include them in your chats- the deaf member wants to be part of your family or circle of friends. Please copy & paste. Hopefully we can educate others.”

“Never mind”

I intended to write about this but time got away with me. I happened to go to Amy Cohen Efron’s site: http://www.deafeyeseeit.com where she wrote “Later!”.

In a time where people are arguing on the extremes, advocating for spoken languages or ASL – children and adults continue to be left out of the conversation – especially at family gatherings.

“I will tell you later.”

I am fortunate to have my immediate family communicate well with me in both languages. Only a few of the extended families (aunts, uncles and grandparents) have attempted to sign; while taking the time to be patient.  I will agree with many people – it is much better when we sit one-on-one than in a family gathering.  Seriously, how can one lipread that many lips!?  How can one hear so many voices and pluck one out to participate?  I swear I am not an idiot, nor was I raised to be one. I am fairly intelligent (don’t talk about common sense here!) and can hold my own in a conversation about various topics.  I always wondered if that was one reason why I am struggling in social settings, the lack of natural social ‘graces’ outside of the family. “Should I ask that”, “Is it okay to bring this up”, or “When do I stop harping on this topic?”.

“Hold on a minute”

Someone commented in Cohen’s blog about “I think it is because the family doesn’t learn effective strategies to use.” (for full comment, go to the blogsite). This could be true – one spends so much time on language strategies, in a case say – lot of speech and listening training, rather than figuring out what and how one can communicate effectively and naturally.

A VERY brief summary of whatever is going on.

I am sure that over the years my family have had to put up with my outbursts when we are playing games or talking about a particular topic; I only hope that the message circulating on Facebook serves to remind the relatives why we, deaf people, have a hard time socializing with hearing people.

“You don’t need to know.” (second worst after “never mind” for someone who is by nature, curious)

You can taste, briefly, what it is like to be isolated by going to events or activities where deaf people gather and know little to none of ASL or other sign methods. That cannot compare to a life time we go through.

Talking one-on-one; I watch as someone calls the other and see the person I talk to turn away without ever finishing the conversation.

That is what we are used to and really that is a grievous thing to do: get used to something and not making a change. Let me be honest – that is the second most grievous thing. The foremost grievous thing is when within the family, sign language is the common language (native/natural) and we are yet segregated at family gatherings by two groups: deaf and hearing.

“What!?”

Yep, sad to say it is true. At the very same table, we have hearing people speaking and deaf people signing. This is a family where more than 75% uses sign language and yet we are segregated.  I would love to know why this is ‘permissible’ by deaf parents. Heartbreaking really.  Common reality is that hearing children tend to interpret for their parents and/or siblings at family gatherings. To quote teens today, “REALLY!?”.  Pitiful!

Note to Parents: When your children are 30 years or so and not so bound to parental rules, you may begin to wonder why your deaf children do not want or barely tolerate going to events, you can look at this poem “What is it Like to be Deaf?” in this site http://www.zak.co.il/d/deaf-info/old/poems.

I love my family to the stars and back, it is just time for the rest of the families to see why I am the way I am. It was made a big deal of my being deaf, rarely am I seen for who I am. For those who have gone beyond my ears and seen me for who I am (outbursts and all), I appreciate your patience and for the changes we are going through now.

This is dedicated to my mother who made my life harder and easier, gave me and my siblings no shit and with her passing, me and my immediate family changes are taking place … for the better.

You could say this post is an extension of my post on 30 Dec 2010: https://humandeafeverythinginbetween.wordpress.com/2010/12/30/to-family-gatherings/