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Vancouver, United States

Driving across USA with all the kids and critters is not anyone's idea of fun. So I flew back with the kiddos and Husband will crawl across America with the critters. Turns out, despite Little Guys fascination with planes, he no longer finds the skies friendly. I was on our frequent flier ticket and Teenager and the virtual twins had a slightly different itinerary. The plan was to meet in Denver and then go the rest of the way together. My plane arrived first. I waited at the kids gate...their entire flight deboarded. No kids. I finally found an agent who said, yes they had been on that plane, but I must of missed them. Hmmm...unlikely that I would have not seen my kids come out the gate door. The next set of stewardesses arrive and go down the walkway. With all the airport security, it is a little intimidating to try to get some help. A straggler stewardess is talking on her phone as she goes down the ramp, so I get her attention (without causing too much attention) and explain that my kids were on the previous flight and my son was deaf, was there a chance that perhaps they were still on board? A few minutes she comes back laughing. "Yes, they are still on board." Can I go help get them off? More suppressed laughter, "NO, but your daughter is so cute". So 5 minutes later poor Teenager comes up the plank. She is just about in tears. Little Guy is crying and crawling alongside her. Princess is humming and just as happy as ever. Apparently they gatechecked the stroller that we bought for $5 at a yard sale at the previous airport and they accidentally sent it all the way thru to our final destination. We had gotten the stroller specifically because we knew Little Guy was not the best walker in crowded places. In fact today, he had completely forgotten he had legs. And on top of that he had freaked out completely on the plane. Poor Teenager. So we bought some expensive airport food and some yummy caramel apples from the Rocky Mountain Fudge Shop. I had thought maybe Teenager was being a little dramatic, how bad could her little brother have been. Well, he dropped his $6 apple and had the biggest fit and showed the entire airport that Teenager was accurate in her description of his behavior. I tried really hard to turn his mood around. Nevertheless, we boarded the next plane with crazy kid in tow. Since our itineraries were not linked as a family, our seats were not together. I let Teenager have the solo seat at the front of the plane, and I sat in the back with the munchkins. Teenager spent the entire flight pretending we were not related. I told the stewardess that my son was a little anxious as we boarded. She pretended she didn't hear that. All the other passengers did clearly hear what was going on. It was just awful, I was covered in bruises by the time the flight was over. I have no idea why he freaked out so, my only guess is that we were on small planes and before we had been on big planes in China and the smaller planes pressurize differently and maybe it bothered his ears. I think it was only 1 hour and 45 minutes, but it was longgggggg.
So we arrive and Little Guy meets my uncle for the first time. Luckily my uncle has a lot of land so we let Little Guy and Princess run wild.
The next day we jump in the car and drive 3 hours to the Washington School for the Deaf.
I had to really advocate to get him accepted into the school. It was quite a battle because he is just in kindergarten but needed to be in the residential program since we live 5 hours away. Some of the admissions team felt like because he was adopted that he couldn't have bonded with us yet. We felt like without language (ASL) bonding wasn't progressing. In the end they decided that they would accept our choice to have a trial enrollment (with the implication that we were bad people for even suggesting he go to residential school) because they couldn't discriminate against him just because he was adopted. So I knew that when I enrolled him, I was going to be eating some humble pie.
Now Little Guy had visited the school in the spring. When we 1st walked into the office there are some brochures about infancy hearing loss and programs. They featured the cutest little white baby in a denim jumper. Now, Little Guy picked up this brochure and signed he wanted that baby. He opened about the brochure and showed Princess the other babies (Hispanic and African American) and indicated that she should pick one of those. He definitely understood that we were at an institution of some sort. In fact in his world, it made sense that we would go get another baby. He was not at all worried that he would be left there. I took that as a sign that he had bonded with us. So we went through the whole tour, assessments, etc, with him asking everyone in sign language, "where's the baby? I want a baby" They just thought he was the funniest thing. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry I was so uncomfortable, how messed up was his vision of a family that he thought we would just go get another kid like that and what did that say about his racial identity that he only wanted a white baby...Anyway, he was quite disappointed that we didn't see any babies or get one, but he was really happy to leave that place. Of course, the car broke down that day so it was a lot of drama with being jumped off and not turning off the car for 5 hours to get home...
So now we go back. He decided he would wear his goggles inside this time. He knew something was up. In the office he saw the brochure and we signed no babies. We got his stuff from the car and followed our guide to the "cottages". They are really nice. Everyone was being really nice to us, so I was relieved that maybe after his initial acceptance I wouldn't have to eat humble pie. So we set up his room. He seems fine. We show him the classroom (school's been in session for a while) and he goes in no problem. In fact he waves us off, like go away I'm a school now, I don't need you. Awwww...my uncle heads back to his place and I go to endless meetings about stuff and Teenager and Princess kick back in the "family room". School lets out and Little Guy joins after school soccer. It was so cool, he had friends! He was so happy playing with the other kids! Princess just couldn't believe it, she was on the sidelines watching him play. It was all she could do not to jump in there, she was signing to him from the sideline, it was so cute! So at 4:30pm, I'm in my final chat session/meeting eating humble pie with the residential director who is telling me all of her concerns about his enrollment. After seeing him happy with friends, I was able to really stand my ground and say this was what I knew was best for him, he's a good kid who just needs language, he is really going to flourish here, etc.
The fire alarm goes off.
After that meeting, at 5pm, we were suppose to be going to a Family Fun night about curriculum, etc.
So all the families are arriving.
All the day shift is leaving.
All the night shift is arriving.
Everybody is there.
At the Deaf School, fire alarms are complete with strobe lights. Apparently, being a State agency some one really official must turn it off.
Little Guy had turned it on.
I just wanted to disappear.
Everyone is coming up to me and signing "Your son" and people who are able to speak are telling me my son did this.
Interestingly the hearing people did not seem as bothered by this as much as the deaf people. Anyway it goes on for 35minutes.
I got to meet the superintendent during this time.
I have never eaten so much humble pie!!!!!!
Eventually I get to see Little Guy and hear that they had just told him to stop playing with the lights in the cottage. So of course if you are a curious little boy and you've been told not to play with the lights, that big red fire pull looks like the next gadget to try.
So the councilor is frantically signing a him. And he sees me and I am sooooo embarrassed . And he knew what he did was wrong and was crying on the pavement outside the cottage. And he looked up at me and it was so sad because I knew that he understood what was going on, but he had this look in his eye that said I just don't understand your world or theirs.
And I watched him have his meal and everybody was signing to him, and he was at a point that he was just waving them off. He had enough of all that signing stuff. And I understood having lived in China how that felt, 3 years all that chinese chatter!
But I also knew that if he didn't learn to sign and communicate that he would go through life angry and confused and probably do worse things than pull a fire alarm.
So I swallowed my pride and stuck out the family night (with everyone laughing at me) and watched him go to kindergarten the next day.
And we went home.
He came home on the charter bus. He was so happy. Already he is signing more. And all weekend he signed that he couldn't wait to go back on the bus and to school with his friends.

permalink written by  carseat tourist on October 19, 2010 from Vancouver, United States
from the travel blog: Making It In Mattawamkeag
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