Ready? Set? GO!!!!
1, 2, 3, Gooo!
I've been SO ready for Q to sign. SO ready for better communication. SO ready for change.
How surprising to find myself on this precipice of deep emotion, worry, and fear, when it finally happens.
Q's expressive and receptive ASL has taken off. At light-speed. His cognizance and awareness are at a level that is FUN! We have FUN! He initiates pretend games, he tells JOKES, and I'm in awe.
Some of the worry is that we, as humans truly take much for granted. American's especially. Our love of surplus (Costco, Wal-Mart, and Amazon), our love of media, technology, film, and photography. Our culture is a hearing, seeing, and stimulating culture.
To parent a child from profound deafness to that of an aided hearing child is a quest that requires resilience, patience, and a very healthy amount of fear.
It requires you to plan for the worst, accept the worst, acknowledge the presence of the many hurdles, but your journey requires hope nonetheless. A dim, deep buried hopefulness that isn't acknowledged until you pass a significant hurdle - and it surprises you with a very immobilizing shard of light that seeps into your being.
It requires love.
Even more than self-love, is love for your child's teachers, love for your child's doctors, love for your (MASSIVE) team who supports your child, and love for your partners and for your extended families. A love for your family and friends that always have questions, suggestions, and thoughts about your journey. A love for folks that Q touches and inspires to be more inclusive.
Love - to me - is many things. It's varied, complex, and hard.
For this type of love - it's patience, understanding, promoting growth and change, and also acceptance of things that cannot be changed. It's an underlying level of worry for your child, and giving your love and trust to people whose skills are far superior to your own.
It's accepting that while Mommy and Daddy reign supreme from night-time smooches and playing tickle monster, and realizing that every other person is essential, and that they provide Q tools we would never be able to give.
That a country and village of folks are constantly evaluating my child, my family, and our progress.
It's accepting that our family is constantly, and will always be, under a microscope.
It's being constantly inundated with detailed and complex paperwork. There is no 'map', there is an open world game where we can go anywhere, and not necessarily in a linear fashion.
It's information overload.
Call this person, email this person, reach out to this agency, fill out this form (and this form, and this form, and another, and give us your taxes from 20 years ago...), and an exhausting amount of calls, emails, and feedback. The amount of effort to simply take in all of this information is a superhuman effort. Attempting to process, initiate, forge through, and succeed is an entirely different monster. It's feeling like we are always missing something, or forgetting to send a form to someone we've never met, or having another person over to look at us like we live in a zoo.
Most days, it feels like a zoo.
When we are in the presence of others, including family; it's accepting that our family will be treated differently.
That even with them, and all the love, we are still under a microscope.
That our basic freedoms are challenges, and that everyone really pays attention, and there are high expectations. You need all the love to get through this to be stronger for your child. Love for yourself, love for your partner, and love of the journey.
POSITIVE Moments and Progress!
Q is a different little human than he was just 3 months ago. Summer sunshine, travels, and amazing teachers and steps have truly helped us progress at light speed. There's not way to succinctly categorize, so here's the list!
He can write his numbers, 1-100, and he can also count them (in ASL)
He has serious letter recognition, and can identify letters in and out of context.
He can do the same with numbers, and has the cognizance that a 6 and a 9 are the same, just different directionalities
He can write his name, and has wonderful penmanship
He switches hands to write, so far he is pretty ambidextrous
He STOPS at crosswalks and roadways
he looks both ways, sign's 'no car' or 'wait, car'
and he waits for the adult with him to take his hand
When someones cell phone rings, he signs "Loud!" and then sign's cell phone, and says verbally "Heelllllooooooo" (mouth shapes and sounds are closer to yellow, but I'm from Missouri...ha!)
He's been asking "where is this friend, is this friend at home?" "Where are my cousins? Are they at home? Can we go to their home?" and more!
I bought a plastic bird feeder - there is a mated pair of cardinals and so many songbirds outside of our condo that I love watching them. This attracted the most humongous gray squirrel I've ever seen. That squirrel chomped through the feeder, and one morning, with Q and I watching, he went to town eating seeds! I knocked on the window, yelled and signed at him "No squirrel, bad squirrel!!"
several days later, Quinn looks out the window, turns to me, and signs: "Mommy, where is the bad squirrel?"
He ASKS for things (in sign)!
Please help with...
He responds to nearly everything we SAY to him! He reacts immediately to his name at home. He will follow instructions verbally (please put this in the trash, hang your hat up please, where is your water) and more
We drove straight through to Virginia recently
Q was a rockstar!
He was chatty (verbally and in ASL)
we pointed out trucks, the colors of cars, airplanes, birds, big buildings, and more
He used foam letters in the bathroom to begin to spell out numbers
he did zero, and one completely on his own!
no reference in the bathroom, just memory
He has been using his little magnetic letters to spell EVERYTHING in the house. His inventive use of turning the letters and using certain letters to make an ampersand is incredible - I've never seen such a little problem solver at such a young age!
He loves to help cook, and is pretty good at it
He loves to help his Daddy do all the work around the house. Sometimes this means plowing Daddy over and adding a bit to Daddy's timeline and scope of work, but he is still learning SO many cool things!
He will randomly repeat and parrot back words. He has said the following, at least once: apple, bath, bus, mine, hello, please (eeease!), help
He KNOWS who he is, and know's his verbal name AND his sign name
this is endlessly fascinating to him and our family
He makes sounds for each letter in the alphabet, getting closer to the actual noise - along with when he counts
there's recognition that each sign and object have a sound now!
I know I've missed so many little things that he is doing...but it's a good overall to remember where we were at this time.
During any big change or growth, there's always an eruption of emotion.
During our trip in Virginia, Q got very physical.
He has so many emotions, ideas, and thoughts in his little body. When he is tired, overwhelmed, and has too much to process sometimes it simply erupts behaviorally.
It's hard. It's heartbreaking. It's scary. For Q, and for us as parents.
I try take a deep breath and a step back. And I realize each human I know does the same thing, but varied.
I don't get physical, but I emotionally and verbally shut down. Completely, sometimes.
And that's OK too.
Remember when I said this takes a lot of love, including self-love?
It's a serious love, a continuing love, and something you have to keep digging for on the hard days.
It's letting go of all expectations and really focusing on the present, and that's a difficulty in itself.
I've cried more in the past 4 years than I have my entire life.
Lately, I've been surprised with a few more happy tears than frustrated, sad, or overwhelmed tears.
I'm hoping that it continues this way, and Q's little presence becomes more firm and solid. I hope that he continues to be hilarious like his Daddy and empathetic like his Mommy. I hope he keeps his curiosity for everything in tact as he grows, and that he keeps feeling 'wonder'.
And I hope, desperately hope, that I'm enough to keep cheering him (and filling out ALL the paperwork, making ALL the calls, and doing ALL the research, and asking ALL the questions) on, no matter where life takes us.