I love language. That’s why I write a blog. I love writing. I love words.
One of my favourite things is to play with words. To make up new words. To mix languages. To experiment with words. When Will was a baby we called him Williphant because he had a vest with an Elephant on it. Harriet was Haribo, Habanero, Habs, Harripottomus. Sadie is Sadiekins or Sades McGades. Always playing with words and sounds.
Predictably, one of the hardest things about having deaf infants was that I was told to stunt this. Will called my mum Ga Ga which I loved but we couldn’t let it slide because he was likely never to learn proper words unless we didn’t just use them but forced and enforced them. GRANNY. No fun to be had here friend. I felt like they missed out on a lot and this was just one more thing, fun with words was not going to be part of their lives.
But now we are now. And Will is implanted, and in year 1, and doing really, really well.
And the other night this happened
It’s a ‘Banerina, a banana ballerina’ and he laughed so so hard at his own clever joke.
My heart swells to think about it. That he can play with words. That his understanding is at that level. But more than that, that he wants to play with words.
Other than the crippling guilt, the strongest feeling I’ve had over the years is that I am not equipped to raise deaf children. That I do not know how. That the problem is not so much that they are deaf but that I am hearing. How can I change my ways enough in order to be the best mum for them? How can I deal with our entire families not being able to communicate with them, or more so, to support me because they know no more than I do. When you have children you look to your parents because they have been here before. Not ours. I felt alone on this ridiculously hard journey. Raising kids innately different from myself.
But, turns out, some genes are stronger than others. Super strong in fact. Will has my love of language, despite the fact that he, in another time, may never have heard any.
Or maybe it’s nurture. Maybe I didn’t stop all linguistic games like I was supposed to. Maybe he’s learned to love language.
Either way, the Banerina made my heart soar. And it’s those moments that keep us going.