Tuesday, July 13, 2004

A day at the lake

Sunday we went to the lake - my in-laws' summer place - for the first time since I lost my hearing.

I was kind of hoping to deal with them in smaller groups, but before that could happen, one of the siblings (five boys! imagine!!!) was heading back home to Ontario after a visit and all the rest were having a mass barbeque to see him off. So husband and I were just kind of plunged into his whole side of the family (including the kids I wrote about earlier) all at once.

I had a brief, three-minute kind of sit-down with the kids when I got there. Their parents had already told them about my hearing loss, which was helpful. I told them the important thing was I could still talk to them, and they could communicate with me by writing things down ("What about 'Conner'?" asked “Celia” with grave concern. 'Conner' is four. "I will just have to read his lips and his cute little face," I said, chucking him under the chin. Conner didn't understand what all this meant but understood that it meant he was cute, so smiled broadly.) I also taught them, on the spot, the "most important signs": the formal (signing each word) and quick forms of "I love you".

I also mentioned fingerspelling and teaching them some signs, which got a hugely enthusiastic response. (I was glad I'd photocopied and brought a bunch of fingerspelling alphabet charts, then.)

We spent the afternoon with them and I had a wonderful time. Celia, the eldest at nine, is a natural communicator; she mimes things (including complex concepts) so well that she practically signs. Not only that, but within a half hour of being given the ASL alphabet, she was fingerspelling whole sentences from memory. (My earlier correspondent was right – I am going to need to practice to keep up with her!!) She is also, for a child of that age, phenomenally patient and resistant to frustration when things aren't being understood, which is in keeping with her nature generally. “Diane”, her younger sister, gets more frustrated, partly because she hasn't got as much writing skill to fall back on when signs fail. Conner, the youngest of the three siblings, just seemed content to accept the fact that I couldn't hear him. “Stefan", at three years the youngest child present and son of another brother, was quite oblivious.

As should be.



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