Tag Archives: children

Communication Between Sexes

What a morning.

I am being the referee between my seven year old daughter and my five year old son. I never realized that the communication barrier between sexes start at such an early age!

I gave my kids the simple job of cleaning their room. I even broke it down in stages so they could focus better on what needed to be done. They had already put their clothes away with no problem, and the toys were relatively put away, though there was the issue of the new toys needing a home. Christmas gifts has a way of presenting that problem.

The dam broke when it came to the kids making their beds.

My kids have bunk beds, and my daughter has the top bunk while my son sleeps on the bottom. They both have plenty of stuffed animals, pillow pets, and blankets to deal with. (I think its time to go through them and make it a whole lot simpler… but that’s for later) I kept going in their room to find nothing had been done. All of my daughter’s pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals were strewed across the floor of the room. My son stood stumped on what to do next while his bed was made like a five year old would make it. It was okay. At least his pillows, stuffed animals and blankets were on the bed in a fair way. All the while, I see my daughter crying hard and saying, “I’m so stressed out! I can’t do it!” 

Okay… Her sheets and comforter looked great on her bed, and I made sure I told her so. “Hun, your bed is relatively made! All you need to do is get the pillows, stuffed animals, and blankets folded nicely on your bed.”

“I need help! Paulie won’t help me!!”

Knowing my daughter, I knew the problem lay in how she talked to her younger brother. “How did you ask him? Did you ask him while you were crying?”
In the middle of a sob, “NO!”  I knew better. She could see I wasn’t buying it. ” I asked him to help me make my bed!”

I tried not to laugh. A five year old boy isn’t going to jump on that. “That’s not how you ask for help. You need to break it down simply in exactly what would help you. You can ask him by saying, ‘Could you please give me my white bear?'”

“But he throws it at me!”

“Ask him not to throw it at you. Tell him to bring it up the stairs for you.”

“He won’t listen to me!” she wails.

Right then and there, I knew she was just making excuses for not wanting to try talking to him differently. I’ve seen them work well together when she isn’t so demanding, so I stopped her. “You are just making excuses here. You need to calm down and try again.”

“I have been trying!”

Listening to her reminded myself of some of the fights I had with my husband in the past. When I didn’t hear what I wanted to hear, I would whine. God, you’ve put a mirror in my face, didn’t you?

I took a deep breath and tried again to convince my emotional little female to approach her male brother in a different way of communication. “Take a deep breath and calm down. You’re not going to get anything done while crying. He’s not going to want to listen to you when you’re like that.”  She stared at me defiantly. Oh, Lord… She’s got my stubborn streak.  I tell her that I won’t listen to her whine anymore. “You need to figure out a way to get your job done. If you need help, calmly ask specific things from Paulie. He’s a boy, and he needs that kind of direction. He’s also only five years old and is still learning how to be a team player. Show him how he can help you.”

I sternly look at my five year old son, who tries his hardest to look all so innocent. “You better start listening ot your sister. If she asks you nicely, would you do it?” He nods his head eagerly.

I take a deep sigh. Being a mother to two of the opposite sex kids has its ups and downs. This was definitely one of the down times. Though, I have to say if I had two of the same sex, the problems would be entirely different. It would be territorial issues – not communication. Well… Maybe a little bit, especially when it comes to females.

I’m sitting here, and the room is getting cleaned… Slowly. Every two minutes, I have one of them coming to me with something to say, a boo-boo to complain about, or that they’re getting hungry. I tell them I’ve got lunch warming up on the stove, the boo-boo is fine, and they need to finish cleaning their room. When it comes right down to it, they’re kids and chores are so “painful” for them. One thing my daughter said today made me want to laugh – “I want to have fun first!” Don’t we all, but the truth is, we can’t have true fun until we know our responsiblilities are taken care of.  At least, that’s true for me!

It’s time for this mama to get another cup of coffee and put on some music. I’ve got my own chores to deal with!


The Power of a Name

“Hey! You! Stop pushing your friend. That’s not very nice!” I would say when I first started out in the toddler room where I now work. When trying to take on the role of authority in a classroom, and not knowing the kid’s name, I quickly found to be a daunting task.  It was even harder when I, being a subsitute support staff at the preschool/daycare where I work, would be in four to five classrooms in any given day. The teachers expect the support staff to take over the care of managing the classroom, and I felt overwhelmed as I tried to gain control and respect from the children in the classrooms. Not only that, but I started to feel my head ache at the idea of having to know all the kid’s names in almost the whole school, as well as the teacher’s names. Memorizing names to faces in such a short amount of time was not my strength, I thought.

Getting to know the teacher’s names was easier, as they were my peers and soon became my friends. It also helped that I saw them every day I came into work. Each classroom had an average of 12 kids each, except the infant rooms, and I found that when I was in a classroom long enough, names and faces beecame easier. Sadly, the ones I got to know better were the ones who needed attention and instruction in their behaviors in the classroom. The good and quiet kids, I got to know their names eventually. Having to repeat their names over and over helped me remember them,and it also built a healthy respectful relationship between myself and the children. They soon saw that I was an authority figure when I got to know them and worked alongside with their teachers.

One of the challenges of the names is pronouncing them right. With my hearing loss, it hasn’t been easy with some of the tricky names some of these kids have – especially the foreign names! I learned that the name “Johann” is pronounced without an “N” sound at the end.  It’s more like “Jo- HA”. The unfortunate thing is that sometimes when kids say it, it is hard to figure out the phonetics just by lip-reading! It took me about five minutes with the kids, and finally an adult came in and saved me, explaining how it sounds using the phonetic break up of the word. The kids had quite a lesson on how sometimes a hearing loss, even with hearing aids, can be a struggle. There are even some names that, with my understanding of Spanish sounds, I think it’s supposed to be said one way, especially the double “L”, and only to find out that it isn’t pronounced that way, even though the name LOOKS Spanish.

I’ve been there since May, on and off, though more steadily since September, and I’ve found that it is getting easier to remember names and faces together. There are still a few moments when I get confused between two very similiar looking kids and their names. Fortunately, I haven’t encountered the challenge of identical twins or triplets yet. With knowing their names, I’ve developed several wonderful relationships with kids I see almost every day. I also don’t feel overwhelmed at the idea of adding more names and faces to my already growing list of them in my head. I do know that I may have days when I need to be patient with myself in getting to know kids names in a classroom, especially when its a whole new group. I will also have patience with the kids as well. They have to get to know me, and it’s then when they understand my role in their lives, they are able to respect me as their leader and teacher.


Silent Motherhood

As I walked through the hallway of my church with my two children, I watched other children talk to their parents; I realized how different it was between my kids and I. It became evident as I saw my four year old sign to me, “Ihop?” His little pinky finger bounced up and down with a hopeful expression across his face. My daughter rubs her chest with a flat palm, saying “Please?” with her own eyebrows raised with hope of being able to get some pancakes. I sign back without my voice, “Wait. Call Dad, See-see can go.” In the English translation, that would be, “Wait until I call Dad first, so we can find out if we can go or not.” They nod their heads in understanding. I do speak when I sign sometimes, since some signs they are still learning, but as they grow up I know it will become more fluent between us.

It isn’t easy raising two children who are hearing when both my husband and I are deaf, though my husband hears better than I can. I have had moments when communication would fall through between my kids and I. I can remember one time when I heard my kids fighting and my son calls out, “Mommy! Mairi hit me!” I stepped in, naturally, and asked my daughter if that was true. She tried to explain herself, but it ended up coming to me as that she had done so out of anger. I sent her to room in tears as I had been angry with what I understood happened. My husband came to me and explained that I had misheard her. “She accidently hit him because they were holding the toy at the same time and she let go.” I felt so bad, and naturally went to my little girl and apologized. I sat there holding my little girl knowing that it was going to be something to work on, developing better communication skills between us all. “I’m sorry. Maybe we should work on our signing more to where you can tell me in sign what happened.” She nodded her head. I had depended on lip reading for so long with my kids, and signed on occasion, especially when I didn’t have my hearing aids. It wasn’t until a few months ago I started signing a whole lot more with them. They love it. Just the other weekend, my son tells me to take my hearing aids off so we could sign more when we had come home from a deaf craft fair. He even tries to sign songs with me. My daughter is also picking up on that as well, and she was so proud to be able to sign to me that she was going to sing Silent Night at her Girl Scout caroling as she gathered up into the crowd of girls to sing. She’s only six, so her signing skills are still progressing. Fingerspelling is something she is recently getting better at, and it is cute how she spells words as she’s in first grade.

As my son gets ready to go to school this next Fall, we’re in the process of getting a hearing dog for myself. With no one here to help me hear things like the door or my phone going off, it is hard for me to imagine coping on my own. My husband is going blind and we had thought about getting dog for him originally, but he rejected it since the city isn’t very seeing dog friendly with the closest place for him to take a dog to relieve himself is about three to four blocks away from his work. 

Having a dad who is blind and hard of hearing is different for my children, but that’s a whole different blog to share…

One of my favorite discussions we had about the dog situation was when I told the kids we would be very possibly getting a hearing dog for me when Paulie goes to school. Mairi speaks up, “But what about Daddy? Isn’t he getting a seeing dog?” We explain to her that it is harder for their dad to care for a seeing dog than it is for me to care for a hearing dog. My forthright son speaks up loud so we can all hear, “What about a talking dog? Can we get one of those?” We all laughed and explained that we called dogs “seeing” and “hearing” for the fact they would do those things for those who can’t see or hear. “Mommy can’t hear and needs to have someone help her not miss the door knock or the phone, and a dog can do that.” They are all excited about the prospect of having a dog in the family, but it will take some practice to get them to understand not to play with the dog when he/she is working for me. The little jacket they put on the dogs when they work will be what will help them know it’s working.  I am excited as well, as it will help reduce some of the loneliness of having both my children at school. 

I know as they grow older, the adventures of raising C.O.D.As  (Child of Deaf Adults) will continue to be eventful and have many stories to share as time goes by. I’m excited and looking forward to it.