In most cities, I would get plugged in with a women's bible study group, a homeschooling group, and either AWANA or Scouts. I might work in the nursery or run the soundboard at church, so I would quickly get to know a lot of people. In these settings, 99.9% of the friends I made were hearing people who didn't know ASL. Language certainly presents itself as a barrier. It was easy for me to visit with other ladies on a deep level, but not so easy to connect our families. (We love with all our heart a lot of hearing friends who do not sign. Just making sure I'm clear on that!)
Whether we were at Scouts or a friend's house or a church event, Ken was basically left out. Let me say he was left out not because any person chose to leave him out. HE did not want me to interpret for him in those situations. I would some, but if he saw that interpreting was becoming my major function at a social event, he would scoot off somewhere to read the news or text on his iPhone. This is a big reason we'll be celebrating 16 years of marriage soon! He doesn't expect me to be "his" interpreter, nor do I pity or "baby" him when we're out being social with hearing people. He's a grown man, so if he chooses to remove himself from a social situation, he can.
|Ken explains how Travis fell while the classmates respond, "Oh! I see!"|
Now we are in Austin. It's simply easier to be here. We are totally spoiled at TSD. Everyone signs, except for just a few parents, so Ken and I are on even ground when it comes to socializing and visiting with staff. The first day of school for the boys, I peeked back to the playground to see a young classmate of Travis' ask Ken, "What happened to his face?" Ken knelt down and explained that Travis had been jumping on the couch when he hit his head. I wanted to cry when I saw their exchange! Normally, when we are out around other kids, they might approach Ken, but the minute they learn that he is Deaf, they are either petrified, dumbstruck, or simply don't understand what to do. I never realized how little I've seen my husband interact with other kids in social settings until witnessing this discussion about Travis' bumped forehead led me to get all choked up. (What fortunate kids at TSD to have Deaf adults like Ken and the other parents they can look up to!)
We realized just how spoiled we were by TSD when we went to tour the elementary school in our neighborhood. The front doors were locked, and to gain entry, one has to push a button on an intercom and wait for the secretary to answer, "May I help you?"
In the three weeks we've lived here, we've had friends over and have visited other friends. It's delightful. Again, everyone can communicate with everyone else. Deaf, hearing, kid or adult, everyone can visit freely. I don't really know how to explain it other than saying it's easy and the exact place we are supposed to be.
We are still looking for a church. The girls and I visited Soma Church last Sunday and loved it! I know if we end up getting involved there, they will embrace anyone from the Deaf community. I can just tell. :) Also, Ken and I hope to host Financial Peace University classes and possibly a Dynamic Marriage class from our home.
Another not-Deaf-related thing we love about Austin is the laid-back attitude of the town. Sorry, Dallas, but you ARE all about fashion, perfect makeup and hair, and keeping up appearances. It's just generally the truth. I know there are pockets of that same culture here in Austin, but it just seems less common. My sister and I were stunned to see all the moms at the homeschool pool party actually getting their hair wet! Of course, we really dig the SoCo area, all the food carts and local businesses of Austin, too. We can't wait to do more exploring!