Thursday, May 3, 2007

How Do You Say...Correct Me If I'm Wrong!

I have hearing children, and they know that mommy is Deaf. In the beginning, when they were small, they knew to tap me somewhere to get my attention. When they got a little older, I felt like they knew I was Deaf, but they didn't quite comprehend what that meant. I had to explain to my children that mommy cant hear without her hearing aid and even then, I can only hear louder than normal sounds. It took some repeating, but I think they understand now.

I keep the TV set at a certain sound level... the volume has bars that tells me how loud or soft it is, and I keep it on 7 bars (Hubby tells me that 7 is just right). When Hubby plays the radio in the car, I like to turn up the bass so I can hear/feel the beat and I've noticed that when I get in the car after he has had it for awhile, the bass dial has been turned down. I find it sweet that he doesn't fuss when I adjust things to fit MY needs and then when I am gone, he adjusts them back. Life with a hearing Hubby and children has been interesting to say the least.

Once upon a time, before I met Hubby, I was a single girl, free to date and roam the earth! I had a boyfriend that was completely Deaf-- couldn't talk, couldn't hear. I didn't like it! At the time, before my hearing faded, I liked listening to music and I could recognize specific songs that came on the radio and I'd be grooving and bopping along to whatever was playing. I remember once, a song came on the radio and it was one of my favorites and I told my boyfriend to listen! He looked at me funny and said, "I'm deaf, remember?" heh..ahem! There was another time where he was across the room, and I called out his name and he didn't respond and I got frustrated (ummm, he's still Deaf!). I knew then, that I would probably end up with someone hearing or HOH.

I admit to using my voice more than sign with my hearing husband and I asked Hubby to correct me if I say something wrong. I know there are many Deaf people that DO NOT like being corrected and I used to be one of them. Going to public schools, I was forced to go to speech classes. Oh the endless "Buh...buh...buh..." and " not" Kids would mock the little Deaf girl that had to go to speech classes. I dreaded going to that room everyday and I told the speech therapist I didn't like these classes. She made me a deal-- the better I talked, the less I would have to go! Wouldn't you know that was just the motivation I needed?? I got my speech classes down to once a week! Fast forward 20 years, I think I still talk well and I get asked often by strangers if I am from Ireland. So I guess I have somewhat of an accent, but Hubby tells me that he wouldn't know I was Deaf by the sound of my voice.

I remember growing up, I thought I was helping my mom and my sister by telling them they weren't saying a certain word the right way. I remember the looks my sister would give me and she didn't like it when I tried to correct her. Mom would play along and try to say it right just to please me. One of my favorite words that she could never say right, was "alligator". When she said it, it came out as "allitiger". I would laugh and laugh when she said it. I don't correct them anymore. I realized that it isn't important if they cant say a word correctly, I know what they meant. I know there are words that I cant pronounce, like Dulles Airport... How do you say "Dulles???" 1 syllable or 2? Long u or short u? I can never remember the proper way to say it so I end up saying it several ways to make sure that whoever I am talking to, understands me.

When I was in 7th grade, in public school, a particular hair product came on the market and spread like wild-fire among the girls that had great hair styles. Remember what hairstyles were like in 1985? BIG hair with puffy bangs. How did we do it?? Lots of hairspray and that new product called 'mousse'. You were supposed to take a little mousse and rub it through wet hair, blow dry, and style. Well, me being 11 at the time, I didn't know all that, and I put mousse on with dry hair and as a result, my hair looked like a helmet all day. Girls were coming up to me and asking me ( in that snobby, catty way) what I did with my hair and I said "mousse" (pronounced like "moose"), when they gave me funny looks, I said "mousse?" (pronounced like "mouse"). I went back and forth both ways and the girls burst out laughing at me. I was so humiliated. Turns out I said it right the first time (sounds like moose), but the damage was done. As an adult, I don't care what other people think of me, if I talk funny or different or pronounce something wrong. If I can get my message across, then my job is done.

Bottom line is this, I will tell people that I am Deaf and to please make sure they are looking at me when they talk or make sure I am looking at them. Don't talk to me when my back is turned. I'm aware that I don't talk perfect and if I see they have a puzzled look on their faces, I'll ask if they understood me. The hearing world is not that difficult to get around in, and I know it is easier for some than others. Since being married to Hubby, who can talk with just about anyone, anywhere, anytime, my own confidence level has gone up a notch. I watch him and see how he approaches people. He also doesn't let me play the "Deaf card" and makes me do it if I am the one that wants it done. He has been good for me, and I hope I have been good for him, too.


Sparx said...

Great blog - a view into a world I have always been curious about. I'll be coming back, you write very well and interestingly.

Lantana said...

Excellent post. You and I have a great deal in common. I identify more with hearing men than I do deaf men. I don't know WHY, it is not a concious feeling, just something that I am comfortable with.

My mom always helped me with proper pronounciation. Then later my children, particularly one of my daughters. (I have 3 boys and 2 girls). My kids used to titter when I said "pizza" because it is not pronounced like it is spelled. I think I have it down right now, I hope! "Hawk" is another one. My daughter says coming from me it sounded more like "honk". I use my voice a great deal, as speaking was my first language and one I will always be comfortable with.

It is always interesting to hear how other deaf persons live and their own pros and cons.

Thanks, Mountain Mama!

Lantana, Lantana's Latitude

Cynthia said...

I also have a hearing husband and two hearing sons both teenagers.

We've had our ups and down. Your writing makes light of such relationship and enjoyable.

Can you please explain "Deaf Card"
your husband wont allow you to do?

jenny said...

Hi Cynthia--

Thanks for reading my blog. When I say my Hubby wont let me play the "Deaf card", I mean that we wont let me use my deafness as an excuse not to do something. Like if we go to a flea market and I see something I want but I want to negotiate on the price, and I want him to do it for me. He will tell me "If you want it, you do it." He doesnt let me say, "Boo-hoo, I'm deaf, I can't..." Which I am thankful for, because arent all Deaf people saying "We can do anything except hear?"


Your comment made me laugh!! My mom used to blow her nose in public and she didnt realize how loud her "honk" was and I would take a few steps away as if I didnt know her!! Sometimes I would tease her and look around for geese flying in the sky! Your honk story brought back some funny memories for me!! Thanks for the giggle!

Alex said...

I came across your blog. I'm deaf as well and when you describe your life, I found a lot of similarities. It's not easy being deaf, having to go through public school with ignorant youth, speech therapy, and little self-esteem. I'm in college now and life is improving for me. I find inspiration in your blog and I'm grateful you decided to share your life story as a deaf person.