Boo has always loved sign language. B.E. (before the eye) I encouraged it. She signed fluently as a baby with modified sign language. As she got older we checked out signing time DVD’s from the library bought sign language books and practiced all the time…and A.E. (after the eye)? The truth is I made her stop. Not that I disallowed it but I stopped encouraging it which when you are 4 years old is the same thing; honestly what was the point in a blind person knowing sign language? It was one of the major insults of discovering her vision issues- no joke! That was how much of her life it was. She loved signing!
Years later she can still see, not perfectly and maybe not forever but she sees. She reads, she competes in gymnastics, she rides a bike, she see birds in the sky, and fish under the water. I had forgotten all about the passion I had squashed, well meaning, shoved aside out of emotional fear of the unknown.
But there it was Boo flipping through anatomy books and she found it between the vision and hearing information.
The whole world turned on a dime and she ran away with it- no one was going to stop her this time. “I’m learning this!” She said over and over again. It was like she was starving for it. I know she doesn’t remember me quietly removing it from her life. I feel somewhat like the gardener who burned the velveteen rabbit as I watched her, she could hardly hold still as she pounded down the alphabet, then squealed, “Numbers too?! Can I learn numbers?” In a half hour she was signing words.
It’s a good thing I have grown-up since she was first diagnosed. I’ve learned a lot about raising a child with a disability. Most of all I am glad I have learned to see the world the way she does with eyes wide open rather than shut. And one more note: part of raising a child with a disability is having a good sense of humor about it all. When Boo showed her Papa what she was teaching herself he remarked, “So you can sign to all the blind people?” She actually failed to get the joke and he seemed genuinely embarrassed by making it, which made me feel a little bit better about my pathetic role in the whole sign language suspension. Boo she doesn’t even know we are here making a mess of things she is in sign language heaven, miles and miles beyond the rest of us in so many ways.
Ryan Knighton, author of C’On Papa, Dispatched From a Dad in the Dark, said, “One of the worse parts of going blind isn’t not seeing, it is getting over the embarrassment.”
He also said, “The edge of the world is always the next step when you’re blind.” So true. And here is my quote, "There is no reason to go jumping off an edge just because you are afraid one day you might fall of it."