“I really want to meet someone who is deaf. I want to practice my sign language.”
Goldi shared this one afternoon. We had been watching sign language videos and enjoying the art.
“Good night,” Goldi signs at 9 pm. She brings her fingers to her lips and then bringing them down to the palm of her hand. Then she stretches her arm out and lays one hand over the other. It’s like the sun has set over the horizon. I sign back and close her bedroom door.
Signing is an art. It’s an amazing finger dance. Some do it so quickly. Some do it so gracefully. Most who are deaf do it just as easily as they do breathing, Because they have to breath in order to stay alive.
In the morning, Goldie lifts her fingers to her lips again and then brings them down against the palm of her other hand. Then she takes her arm and stretches it across her and raises her hand up over her other arm. It’s like the sun is rising up over the horizon.
“Good morning,” I sign back to her, “What would you like for breakfast?”
Goldi brushes two fingers up and down and against two sides of her hand. Kind of like buttering two sides of a slice of toast.
She makes her own breakfast and for awhile, except for the clinks of dishes or the pop of the toast, there is nothing but quiet in the new of the day. Yet, we have been talking the whole time.
Neither of us is hard of hearing. ( At least one of us isn’t yet) Neither of us is fluent in sign language. But deep inside of both of us, there was a desire to know another way of expressing a message. We know how to talk and write. We know how to sing and play an instrument. But now we know how to dance with our fingers. And sometimes it’s the only thing we want to do when it comes to talking.
Sometimes there is a special reason for this finger dance. Sometimes, Goldi is upset and doesn’t want to voice anything. Sometimes wants to share this “secret language” with only one. Sometimes it is just so fun to finger dance while hearing someone else talk or read or sing a song.
“What is the first thing you might say when you meet someone who is deaf?” I ask.
Goldi looks away as she often does when she is thinking. There could be a hundred and one thoughts running around in her mind. What would she say to someone who is only able to say anything with their hands. What if she made a mistake What if she said “You are smelly instead of You are sweet.” What if they said something back to Goldie and went so fast, she couldn’t understand. There would be a different kind of silence that may be difficult to break.
“Well, ” Goldie finally says “How about this-”
She takes one hand and places it palm up in front of her. Then she takes the other hand palm down and slides it across her other hand. Then she brings her two index fingers together. Then she points one finger out.
“Of course! That’s just right! I bet they will say “nice to meet you too! And I bet you’ll make a new friend.”
Goldi does the sign for friend. It looks like two fingers are hugging each other.
I nod my fisted right hand. ( That means Yes)
“So when do you think I will make a friend who is deaf?” she asks
I make a circle using my index finger and thumb ( kind of like the ok sign) and touch it to my chin. Then I cross both fingers on each hand and wave them.
“What does that mean?” Goldie asks.
“Soon, I hope.” I answer.