Wednesday, January 30, 2008
You "FIX" a Dog or a Car...not a Deaf Child
I think Mishka and I may have just had our first lovers' spat. I dig Mishka and her commitment to trying to figure something out in this whole mess of differing opinions, suffering souls, passionate voices, and a long, strong tradition of community loving. I don't care where she stands in regard to acceptance of the Cochlear Implant, it's all about awareness for me. As I've said before, I am here to share. Mishka, for a series of motives believed that I attacked her in this part of yesterday's blog:
And one more thing...COCHLEAR IMPLANTS ARE NOT A FREAKING WAY OF FIXING YOUR DEAF CHILD...CHOOSING TO OPERATE ON YOUR DEAF CHILD IS A PAINFUL DECISION FOR A PARENT TO MAKE, PAINFUL, BUT WORTH IT...AT LEAST FOR MY KID. AND COCHLEAR IMPLANTS ARE A PROCESS NOT A CURE. SO...WHO EXACTLY IS THE WORSE PARENT HERE- LYNCHED MOM BECAUSE SHE GAVE BACK HER DEAF KID...OR ME? AFTER ALL, I "FIXED" MINE. DON'T BE SO QUICK TO JUDGE.
Yes, I was pissed off, but not at Mishka, at the continued use of the word "FIX" by certain members of the Deaf community in conjunction with the cochlear implant implying that a parent sees a defect in his or her child and feels the need to fix it. My child is just perfect the way he is, sensitive, stubborn, annoying as hell, intelligent, hormonal, "hearing" and deaf. Actually, if I could "fix" something about him, the deafness would not be the first thing:) I would choose. Honestly, I don't think I would want to change anything about him, because every moment is a new discovery. His deafness is what makes him special, his ability to hear and communicate in a world where the majority of the people are hearing enables more people to learn about, celebrate and share in his life.
Comment left by me on Mishka's Blog at midnight my time, need I say how damned tired I am today...
I DID NOT realize that you took my words as an attack on you. First of all, when I put words in all caps it’s not to scream, it’s to make them bolder and emphasize a point I am trying to make. I have no reason to scream at anyone, especially you, you left the nicest congratulations message about the book the other day. What in my behavior towards you could have ever made you think I was screaming??? I cited your post there because it was relevant to the adopted parents aspect of the post and you had blogged about that AND reused the word Fixed that drives me crazy for all of the above reasons. What in my past blogging behavior would have ever caused you to think that I was personally attacking you? That post had nothing to do with you, it was about looking at the parents’ choice to give back their deaf baby and yes, the kicker here and the point of that comment I made was that this family gave back their deaf child, and the Deaf Community reacts as a collective. I chose to implant my son and the Deaf Community considers that I am trying to “fix” something that is broken…way too easy to vilify instead of comprehend. You were just another member to use the word…why did you take it so personally? Jodi
Hmmm. Why did Mishka take that comment so personally? I have been reading her blogs the past four weeks and she has been taking a lot of heat from all sides. Mishka, you will get no heat from me, I'm just sitting back and observing.
Words are powerful, we play with them and people on a daily basis...just check out Paotie - live for him. Be very careful with a word like "FIX," because the Deaf Community blew away the denotative significance of the word, and now it is all about the connotative meaning that I perceive as an unfounded accusation. I perceive this, as do other hearing mothers...as you can see in the 140+ comments left on Mishka's blog. We are here and we are listening...are YOU?
I loved Paula's blog in response to all of this...thank you, Paula
I loved KP's comment left on Mishka's blog:
I would love to be able to immerse my son with other deaf people; however, I don’t live in an area where there are a lot of deaf people, the deaf community is over two hours away. I’m also afraid to reach out, because of some of the militant anti-CI deaf people. I am afraid they will call me a Nazi and tell me that I should hang for my choices with my son. I am afraid that they will make comments such as my son is a robot, has a hole in his head, a chip in his brain, can’t play sports, can’t get on a plane, can’t go swimming, in front of him and none of those things are true and would hurt him as well. I don’t want to willingly put myself and my son out there to be lashed at. I realize that not all deaf people think this way and will not act unkind to us, but it is the ones who will that deter me from even reaching out. I had someone berate me for choosing to implant my son, told me that I should send him to the residential deaf school two hours away. What? I can’t do that, God gave him to me, I want him with me. Is it selfish, yes it is. I want him to live with me, I want to talk to him about school everyday, help him with his homework, attend sport activities with him, I want to pray with him, read to him, play with him. I want to be with my son. I don’t want to send him away 5 days a week and see him on weekends and holidays. I want him to go to the same school as my daughter and his cousins. I want him to be able to go to our church’s youth activities. I want him to have the same opportunities as my daughter even though he is deaf; which is growing up with us, his family. I don’t want him to think that I was ashamed of his deafness and sent him away to live with the deaf. If the CI can make it possible for him to stay with me and it works for our family why can’t people embrace my decision for my child? Why can’t they accept it and say, “Well, that certainly isn’t what I would have chosen but I’m glad that it works for their family” and be kind and teach us about the deaf culture. If the anti-CI militants spout hate what’s going to make my son want to join the deaf community? Why can’t he be a bridge between the deaf and hearing? My son will most likely be ostracized by some hearing people as well because he is deaf and has an implant. They just won’t get it, he’s different and that will be enough for them to make fun of him.
As a mother; and any mother, deaf or hearing will know exactly what I’m talking about here, I can work up enough things to feel guilty over, to feel bad about, to make me feel like a bad mother. I don’t need someone pointing a finger at me and telling me how bad I am for just wanting to give my son the best opportunity to be with me and his family and enjoy the same opportunities as my hearing child. Every single person has been made fun of and kicked for one reason or another, people can be cruel, but that is all the more reason we should be kind and embrace one another. Because we all know how it feels and we all just want to be accepted for who we are.
So in all of that, if you want to say “fix” then by all means go ahead. But I do not agree, if my son’s hearing was “fixed” he would be able to hear with no processors or AVT. He would have come out of the surgery and said, “Hey mom, I can hear and I love you too.” But he didn’t. I had to wait until he got his assistive listening device, the processor and coil. Now I’m enjoying watching him get caught up in speech and language, hearing him come up with new words, being able to tell me hurt and hot, but by no means has his hearing been “fixed”.
Melissa rocked and wrote:
As a hearing parent of two children with bilateral CIs, I don’t think it’s the word so much as the phrase. I didn’t fix my children. The hair cells in their cochlea were missing and/or damaged, and so I gave them a prosthesis for them. In that sense, I “fixed” their hearing, although, as Jodi said, the CI alone didn’t do it. It took A-V therapy as well. My younger daughter had knock knees. She had surgery to correct them. We certainly fixed her knees. I guess I just don’t have a big objection to the words “fix” and “improve” as long as they are applied correctly. I love my children and wouldn’t change who they are as people at all, but if there is something wrong with them physically in the future that can be fixed or improved, we’ll fix it. Saying that in no way implies that I want to fix my children, which has a much more all encompassing meaning to me.
BTW, if one person in the Deaf community re-thinks using the word "FIX" when referring to a mother's choice to implant her child, this blog will have served its purpose.
PS. Hot news of the day...I was reading "BROWN BEAR" to my preschool beasts when the little ding of a text message sounded amidst the miraculous silence. I flipped open my cell phone and saw the words "THE END"...yeah, that was my friend and translator Rosy telling me that she had just completed the Italian translation of RALLY CAPS. Flying!