As far as CODAs go, I was a pretty straight-laced kid. I never snuck out and tried my best to follow household rules. But there were definitely times when I used my parents’ deafness to my advantage. I loved to listen to music LOUD. I’d crank it up at home and my parents were none the wiser. Other neighbors apparently griped and called us as THAT house. The loud house.
Going to backtrack. For the first seven years of my life, I was home-schooled by my mom and pretty much existed in a deaf bubble. During those years, I developed some “deaf habits”. I spoke VERY loudly, never really cared about how loud I was being, copied the way my parents pronounced words (musk-el instead of muscle) and always read books out loud. I never learned to read silently. I’d pass gas whenever I wanted, not knowing it was embarrassing to do it in public. When I finally went to public school, carrying on with all these habits, I got a rude awakening. My peers thought I was very odd and I was often excluded. I had a very lovely teacher though. She got me though some very tough times.
I also went through a period when I thought my parents weren’t really deaf. I was young; maybe six. At the dinner table, I asked my mom, “Are you really totally deaf?” She answered “Yes”, but suspicious six year old me demanded proof. I screamed at the top of my lungs and asked if she heard me. She said “No.” Unsatisfied, I shrieked even louder and asked again. Answer was still no. Stubbornly, I took a deep breath and screeched as loudly possible. I asked if she could hear that. She said, “Barely,” and told me to cut it out. I stopped questioning her after that.
I was also one of those CODAs that couldn’t sign well. I developed odd habits. At first, I’d sign with just one hand. Then I became completely reliant on fingerspelling everything. My parents tried to break my habits, but I wouldn’t stop. Communication issues became a major issue later on, especially when I was getting bullied at school. My mom would ask me what the matter was because she could see I looked depressed, and I’d just clam up because I didn’t know how to express my feelings to her.
I can sign pretty fluently now. I think it happened after I moved to Taiwan. I realized how precious my family was and really wanted to interact with my parents on a deeper level. I studied books, watched YouTube videos, and Skyped frequently with my mom. We can talk about almost anything now, and I’m still learning. I came open up to my parents about just anything.
Unsure how to wrap this up, but I hope you have enjoyed these few snapshots of my life as a CODA. It is a major part of my identity and I am proud to be one.
By Sara Huang.