Friday, February 27, 2015

The Question

It happened, and I know it will only be the first of countless times.

Yesterday Harper's school had their annual 1st Grade Patriotic Program. It was so sweet. They sung songs and saluted the veteran relatives and friends of the families in attendance. Norah and I were especially excited to see that their Pledge of Allegiance song was accompanied by signs. (Not true ASL of course, but they were fairly accurate ASL signs using the frozen text of the pledge). I was such a proud mom to see my sweet boy on stage, knowing every word and giving me the occasional sly smiles and sign for I Love You. I also happened to sit next to someone that grew up in Jeff's neighborhood. It didn't take long into our conversation when she realized that she knew Norah's story. The kid's a celebrity, I tell you.

After the event, Norah and I joined Harper's class for some treats and a little social hour. Most everyone left, but Harper lingered with his friends while he also packed up his things to go home. One of his friends had been looking at Norah and I. He asked a few other kids if I was his mom. He finally asked Harper, to which he replied "Yes, that's my mom and my cute little sister." His friend quickly asked the question he was itching to ask someone, "What happened to your sister?" There it was. The first of many times, in just one of many forms that Harper will be asked about Norah's differences. In that moment, I was so proud of my son. He didn't understand what his friend wanted to know. Nothing happened to her. Nothing was wrong with her. He just knows that she is his cute sister. Harper's expression prompted the boy to repeat his question, this time pointing to his own neck. I could see Harper's brain scanning all of the things we've told him about Norah to help him understand that all people are different, and that the only things that make us "normal" are in fact, our differences. He told his friend that Norah needs help breathing with a mask. I of course didn't want to intervene. The boy wasn't quite satisfied, because he wanted to know what on earth was that gigantic white and blue thing around her neck. They ended up being distracted by another boy running around the classroom with a small flag, playing "good Army/bad Army".

There will always be something. There will always be stares and questions. There will be curious people, rude people, awful people, and wonderful people. My top goal aside from my kids' safety, health, and happiness is raising them to be confident in who they are, and I know much of that comes from example. I want us to be proud of one another. Our Deaf Mentor and I recently had a conversation about this - particularly regarding acceptance in being Deaf. She has told me before that watching Harper makes her proud, and that it is priceless to have a sibling who is so supportive of who you are. I don't know what the future holds, but I do have every confidence that this sort of support is going to go both ways. I like to think that Norah will be just as protective of Harper as he is of her. 

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