I am mom to some brave girls, some true warrior women. These girls, oh my gosh. They power through stuff that would have most people in the fetal position for the rest of their lives. Gigi, her story, it blows me out of the water. While the details of it are hers to share, it’s relatively obvious when you meet her that she is just now, for the first time, at the age of 33 months, acquiring any sort of language.
For most people, it’s a language you won’t understand.
And this language, it may be her only language. It’s possible that Gigi won’t ever have any language besides American Sign Language. I’ve said it now. This is a possibility. It’s not like someone coming from outside the U.S. and being able to acquire english. This could be it for her. We knew that going into this.
We knew she might not be a candidate for a Cochlear Implant. We weren’t sure that even if she was, that was something we would choose for her. And, even if she has it, ASL will always be spoken here.
Over the past week and a half, Gigi has gotten to meet some people outside of our immediate family. She doesn’t say a whole lot, but when she does, I have to interpret it. And, I have to interpret absolutely everything I’m saying to her. It’s weird, and I don’t think I’ll be able to do it much longer. I think as she acquires more language, and as conversations become deeper and move at a faster pace, I won’t be able to interpret for everyone else as I’m talking to her. Eventually, my conversations with her, will become mine and hers, and everyone else will be left on the outside, looking in. Her siblings understand what we’re saying. I can’t wait to see the conversations they learn to have with her. She and Tess already communicate on a level that sometimes even I can’t understand. Tess’s tiny hands often move at a faster pace than mine, and when I forget a sign, she is my go to gal. “Carrot, mom, it’s like you’re taking a bite of a carrot. Carrot.” She talks to me just like the DVDs talk to her. She remembers it ALL, because this is her sister. She knows she is worth it.
Society almost always asks deaf people to enter the world of the hearing. You want to follow a movie, you’d better learn to read closed captioning and watch the movie at the same time, or when there are none, you’d better be able to follow the plot simply by watching. You want to speak with someone in public, you’d better bring a notepad and learn to converse through writing. If your written english isn’t that great, you’re expected to lip read. Gigi won’t be able to escape that, except in this house. In this house, she can turn off her hearing aide, her CI, whatever she has, or, if she has nothing, she can just be her. In this house, we speak ASL. She will always be part of every loud, raucous, laughter-filled conversation.
It will be up to you to join in. Otherwise, she’s never going to know how much you love her.
It’s not hard to learn the basics. Your little bit of effort to bridge this gap will be rewarded, I promise. Gigi has a giggle that can’t be beat. She laughs, claps and smiles the biggest smile when anyone outside of this family signs to her. Give it try. It’s like watching the world open up in her eyes.
I’m going to start you off right here.
Should you decide you’d like to learn more, online college level courses are available, free of charge, right HERE.
–FullPlateMom, who is inviting you in. Should you choose not to accept the invitation, that’s your loss.