Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm a deaf person!

Griffin and I had a very interesting conversation tonight. He was very frustrated at the computer, because he couldn't make the program loud enough for him to hear. We were leaving the house anyway, so I told him we'd check it out in the morning.
In the car and he says. "I a deaf person. Dat's why I can't hear the pooter."
I respond that that is true, but because he can hear a little he's actually hard of hearing not deaf. He immediately comes back with, "No, all children are deaf."
O.k. this concerns me that he thinks every one's deaf, so I try to straighten him out. We end up in a battle of wills, me repeatedly saying, not all kids are deaf and him correcting me that all kids are indeed deaf. I say, "Most kids are hearing," and he shoots back, "No, all kids are deaf." I end the whole thing with, "O.k. we'll agree to disagree." If he wants to identify himself as deaf, I surely don't want to impose my views on that. Be deaf. No problem . . . but you're really hard of hearing.
We end up at Amy's and I'm telling her about the conversation we had. He overhears me, --make note of that, he overHEARD . . . deaf people don't do that -- and pipes in with an "I'm deaf, " statement.
After Amy's we head up to the local Chinese restaurant to grab dinner and we had to wait a bit. The owner's sevenish son hangs there when school's out. Griffin finds it fascinating that this kid is at this restaurant playing with a ball against the wall.
"Why he here?" He asks.
"Well, his parents own this restaurant and he stays here with them when they're working." I respond with sign and speech.
"He live here?"
"No, he just comes here when his parents are working."
"Why they working?"
"They work here to make money, so they can have a house." I say.
Pondering look and question directed to the boy, "You live here?" O.k. not everything gets in the brain the first time. I understand that.
Now, the little boy saw me signing and had lots of questions, but didn't look at Griffin at all.
"What are you doing with him." He asked pointing at my hands.
"He's deaf and I'm using sign language to talk to him." Yes, I know I said "deaf", but most adults don't get what hard of hearing means so I won't expect the kid, I wasn't going to explain it now.
Griffin did this amazing thing. He engaged this kid in conversation. He said, "I like Bionicles. You?" I translated to the new friend and the conversation flew from there. They talked about a ton of different stuff: favorite games, school, how this little guy helps out around the restaurant, but he doesn't cook and on and on. Andrew . . .that's his name, needed me to translate for about 50% of what Griffin said, but the cool thing was he could understand the other 50%.
When they called my name I went up and paid and in the background I was listening to them and hardly able to make the change I needed I was so distracted. It was great that Griffin felt comfortable enough to have this dialogue. When I came back to the table Andrew had joined us at, they were discussing our trip to Chicago, where Griffin had seen a hammerhead shark. I told Griffin we had to go and he wrapped up the conversation saying, "I can't talk anymore. I have to go."
I know this probably doesn't seem like a big deal to you, but it's huge to me. We scheduled him this year for Deaf and Hard of Hearing program and Mainstreamed him in the afternoon. My main reason for the Mainstreaming was social. When we go to a friend's house Griffin hangs out with the parents or the family dog. We need to change that behavior, and exposure to hearing kids I assumed would help.
I was just so happy to see him going for it, with confidence in his voice. Even if it was so loud, I'm losing my hearing and so is poor Andrew.

1 comment:

Mindy said...

We know Andrew too! He kept Jeffrey company while I got a haircut at the place next door. He's a neat kid, and I think that's nice that Griffin talked with him. The first of many friends, I'm sure.