Howard’s cousin Steve and Steve’s son Tayler came to BBQ and stay the night last night.  I’d never met either one of them before and now I understand even more that some of the coolness that is Howard must be genetic because it was enormous amounts of fun.

One of the coolest aspects was watching my kids interact with Tayler.  Tayler was born deaf and so his native language is ASL.  He reads and writes english fluently, but doesn’t vocalize at all.  It was fascinating watching him play with the kids.  I realized how effective a tool pantomime can be.  We had no trouble communicating simple messages and being friendly.  Naturally Steve knows ASL and so for more complex messages he could translate or we could write notes.

Kiki was fascinated by the concept of sign language.  She sat down with Steve and learned quite a few signs.  Howard and I were both interested as well so we watched.  Kiki is now saying that she wants to take ASL in school.  I’m not sure that can be done on any level below college, but private lessons are probably available if I can come up the money to fund them and the energy to add another carpool to the schedule.  We’ll have to see.

At one point while watching the kids running and giggling with Tayler, Steve commented to me and said “You know, the deaf don’t regard themselves as being broken.”  I watched Tayler who is in far better physical shape than I am explaining to Kiki the rules of a ball game and I realized how true that statement was.  Tayler lives in a world that is very different from mine and I’ll never be able to fully understand it.  Tayler will never fully understand the world of hearing people.  And it doesn’t matter.  We are still people and we can be friends. 

I just hope I didn’t inadvertently do things which seemed rude to him.  I never realized before how often I speak to someone when my back is toward them.

We were all sad to see Steve and Tayler leave this morning.  A couple of the kids were close to tears.  As they were getting into their car Gleek told me “I like that guy who can’t talk.  Make him come back.”  They are definitely welcome back any time and I’m already scheming in the back of my head to see if we can manage to travel to Tayler’s wedding next summer.

3 thoughts on “Relatives!”

  1. I believe I had a hearing impaired coworker once – at least, she used sign more often than not with her mother around, and notes on occasion. She definitely wasn’t at all broken, not in her mind, and I had a hard time telling if she was hearing-impared or not. You see, her secret is that she reads lips like a devil, even across a room…

    Very fine young lady, she was. As I said – even I couldn’t be certain, though that seemed a safe guess with the ASL and the rest. Of course, the people who think that you have to treat them REALLY differently as a result, and the overexaggerated articulation of their speech and pantomime are funny to watch as a result.

  2. Better late than never …

    Talk with the school about offering ASL. I know my high school offered it as an elective.

    Another place to check is community colleges and community centers. The flyers we get almost always have ASL courses being offered.

    The quickest way may simply be her finding a friend who is deaf 🙂

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