My Daughter Doesn't Know She Has Deaf Parents

My daughter Coral doesn’t know she has deaf parents.

Coral is only 2 years old. She knows she has parents just like everybody else, but she has no idea how we differ from many parents. Having deaf parents is normal for her. She is hearing, but we converse in American Sign Language, always have closed captioning on the TV, use flashing lights or stomp our feet on the floor to get attention, write on papers to communicate with non-signers, etc.

We started signing to her right away when she was born. It was strange for us to sign to her as she would not look at us. She seldom paid attention to us. Imagine my surprise when at hardly 6 months old, she signed her first word, “no.” She waved her index finger at people, our dogs or objects and said “no!” From there, her sign language and spoken language flourished. She learned both at the same time.

She notices if closed captioning is not on the television and could not care less if the TV volume is off.

Coral loved to do facial expressions from early on. When she signs or says words, they often come with facial expressions. She also makes a lot of noises when she signs.

deaf parents
Elizabeth’s daughter, Coral.

She will point to any noises and tell me what they are.

*points to the sky* “Airplane!”

*points to the busy street* “Cars, vroom!”

If she looks in the direction of the noise, I will ask her what was that noise and she will answer me.

She loves music. Every time her favorite show’s theme song comes on, she grabs me, drags me over to the TV and we start dancing to the song.

She knows to tap on my leg or shoulder to get my attention. She started doing that when she was a baby. Before she could walk, she crawled up to me and tapped on my leg. She knows to maintain eye contact while communicating with other people. However, she is a typical 2-year-old nowadays, so she sometimes ignores people on purpose.

Coral believes all people know how to sign. Boy, how I wish that could be true. At first, other kids would try to communicate with Coral, but they soon realized she wouldn’t answer back. They managed to interact through gestures while playing instead. It is remarkable how accepting young children are.

When she gets older, she will realize her parents cannot hear and talk with their voices. I hope when that day comes, she will be proud of her deaf parents and of her bilingual and bicultural life.

A version of this post first appeared on Mommy Gone Tropical.

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