Just finished reading Bob Hoffmeister (2008)’s searing account of what it is like to be a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults). I am reminded of my own two daughters and their CODA behaviours. Of course, they draw a blank whenever I remind them of this but they’ve moved so far into the hearing world that perhaps they’ve forgotten the Christmases and New Year’s celebrations with the Saskatoon Deaf community. They can hardly remember the Deaf Santas on whose knees they sat and received presents. They might remember the blind volleyball games in the R.J.D. Williams building gym and the animal game (LION – NO – WHO?). They might remember playing with the other CODA kids out on the back parking lot at the former school for the deaf.
But I know they remember the difficult interactions with doctors. Bob speaks of it too, how the medical doctors (who ironically are charged with the business of curing deafness) dehumanized his Deaf parents during appointments and emergency situations. I remember my daughters wanting to cover up the conflict and quieten my indignation at how doctors were treating me. While I burned with anger and frustration, my daughters recoiled in embarrassment and anxiety. I thought they didn’t understand what was going on; they knew all too well. I had no idea how it must have been for them until I read Bob’s chapter in Open Your Eyes, Deaf Studies Talking. Simply no idea.
Not to mention that they are an unique brand of CODAs, the ones who never learned enough sign to become fluent. I didn’t sign with them on account of persistent pain in my wrists (the nerves are burned out of them now) as I had to sign all day at work. But they understand my signing and use it on occasion. My daughter recently had me teach her choir ASL for a choir performance this Christmas. Hopefully my daughters are starting to heal.
As I move into the new year, I no longer feel afraid to return to school and the swamp of work that awaits me. There is much to do on the d/DHH front; and I look forward to learning more language (ASL and English), theories, concepts and uncovering the tools that will ease my mind, reduce the feeling of craziness in this audiocentric world and help me to understand even more deeply my husband and our daughters as they cross between Deaf and hearing worlds.
Happy new year! Especially to all the CODAs out there!