This is about our youngest son, who was six years old when this story takes place.
Our son happens to be Deaf. He also happens to hate cigarette smoke.
He and I had just finished doing our grocery shopping at the Food Lion. We started to walk to our car. Then I noticed, halfway down the sidewalk to our car was a group of about 7 mid-teen guys, all smoking and looking tough, gang-like and scary.
Oh my gosh, I thought, if we step into the parking lot to get around them, that would make us look vulnerable and scared. I had to think quickly of what to do. I decided to pretend they didn’t scare me, and everything was normal, and just walk right through the middle of them. In retrospect, this was probably not the wisest choice, since I was pushing a grocery cart and we really were pretty vulnerable. If I were in this same situation again, I would turn around and go back into the store and ask the store manager for help walking to our car. But, at that time it never entered my mind.
I put on a brave face and smiled at them as I confidently strode along, pushing my cart right through the middle of those guys.
Phew! I made it to the other side of the group, without incident.
Then I noticed my son was not with me. I turned around and faced the group. My son was right in the middle of them, clutching his throat, coughing and gagging, like their cigarette smoke was killing him, as they looked on at him with wide eyes. After a few seconds he closed his eyes, still coughing and gagging, and slowly, slowly started turning in a circle, going round and round, squatting closer to the ground each cycle, till he was practically sitting on the ground. Then he dramatically fell back on the ground on his back with his arms stretched out and eyes closed, still as death.
I could tell he was totally being a ham acting out this death scene — showing his dislike of them smoking, and his dislike of me making him walk through such smoking. I had to go back into the scary group, quickly walking up to my son. I squatted down and tapped him on the shoulder to get him to open his eyes, and signed to him, “Come on, we need to get in the car.” It took a minute to pull him to his feet, all the while signing to him to stop being so dramatic. My attention was completely on him.
Imagine my amazement when I turned around to go back to the shopping cart and continue to the car, and Wow! Just Wow! Those scary guys were GONE. No sign of them, as if they had completely melted away. I still have no idea where they disappeared to so quickly and completely. They must have wanted nothing to do with this crazy boy and his scary mom.
Without further dramatics, we put our groceries in the car and went home.
LESSON LEARNED: The people you think of as scary and crazy might be thinking the same of you.
LESSON LEARNED: It’s amazing how quickly all the distractions of the world will disappear into a single laser focus on a child who is acting up.
LESSON LEARNED: While hearing people without sign language often feel they cannot communicate with a deaf person, deaf people often have no problem getting their message across to hearing people.
LESSON LEARNED: “Out of the mouth of babes” is not just a platitude. People will often accept truths from a child that they would never allow from an adult.
Here are the links to my signing and cueing YouTube “Word Of The Day” channels. I post a new word every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Check it out and I would love to know what you think of them!
YouTube ASL Word Of The Day with PSE Sentence Examples: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLOG4fqHRMQ8zL3llMl9YDg/
YouTube Cued Speech Word Of The Day: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxojUy-dP6C2YKp3BWQPg1w/
Also, Check out my Adventure Games in the App Stores:
Please join me for my new blog posts each Friday. Have fun with your ASL and/or Cued Speech Adventures!