Thursday, January 31, 2013

holland, italy, and wherever we are now.

so most parents who have children with special needs have read the poem, 'welcome to holland.'  i have written about it here, and here on my blog before.  the grand idea is that as a parent of a child with special needs, you think you are going to italy with all your friends, and they when you land you find out you are really in holland.
so with shilo we knew we sort of chose holland.  but we also would say that the part of holland we thought we had landed in is not where we are.  there was just much more that came up than anyone could have guessed ahead of time.  it is the ply of parenting.  it holds no absolutes.

however, the part of, wherever we are now, that has been the biggest 'adjustment' is (re)learning how to talk to our daughter.  you see, having a child who is deaf, and choosing to use sign, is like waking up one morning and someone telling you that your child is going to speak another language, oh, and by the way, it's your job to teach them that language.  it's a wee bit overwhelming to try to learn, speak, and teach a new language all at the same time.
we have awesome resources available to us, that we are utilizing.  the state's school for the deaf has an outreach program, and one week we have a parent advisor (who talks about language, and lots of little idiosyncrasies that one might not think of because they can hear) and the next week a deaf role model (who is deaf, and only signs, and so we fumble through trying to understand each other and learn new stuff).
but becoming fluent in a new language takes a lot of time.  and it's really hard to hold a baby, a book, and sign all at the same time.  so you have to re-learn how to read a story to your child.  and trying to sign while someone is talking at the same time, it's nearly impossible for my brain to function in both modes at once.
so right now i speak broken asl.  i sign the words i know, and just leave out the ones i don't.  and i feel self conscious, and guilty that i can't give my daughter all of the language she needs.
but there is also a really fun element to it.  an element of our family have a language that we can use, that not very many other people will pick up on.  a language that makes our little wiggle and smile every time we use it with her.  a language that our big pulls out when she is feeling shy or overwhelmed.  and it feels sort of special and intimate, like it knits our family together, as a unit, in a way lots of other families aren't.

are you interested in learning some basic signs?  we love , signing time, and then youtube you can find just about anything as well.  maybe you can learn some small part of what we are at mannchester estate, and join us, in wherever we seem to be now.

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