Diary of a Deaf Mum: Me versus Spring. Who’ll win?

Posted on May 2, 2013

It would appear Spring has finally sprung. Daffodils and bluebells, bumblebees and butterflies, sunshine and showers… And terrible public nappy incidents.

What is it about Spring that means we have to start going outside again? Oh, I know; it’s hard-wired biorhythms, harking back to the days when we lived in caves and could only venture out once the weather wouldn’t strip any exposed skin like a wallpaper steamer. It’s the natural function of the human being to feel the stirrings of new life and poke our heads out to have a peek. Ahh, Spring!

Well, I say Spring can naff right off.

Picture 2First, we went to a cake sale. That began brilliantly (with cake) and ended shockingly (with me shrieking, “You great nimrod, cashews are a nut, the clue is in the name,no?!” during the moment of ‘Quiet Thanksgiving’, having never heard of ‘Quiet Thanksgiving, either in the aural or literal sense).

There were fierce stares in our direction.

My friend (who could have avoided the whole thing simply by knowing her nuts) scooted sideways, pretended not to know us and joined in the scowling and shushing. What else could I do? I turned to my little man sleeping in his pushchair and hissed, “Shush!”

Still asleep, he managed to lift one eyebrow, Roger Moore style, which made the old man next to him snort, which made me have hysterics, which made us even more unpopular. We left. I covered my embarrassment by thieving cakes from every table on the way.

Spring 1, Emily 0.

Then, we went to a barbeque. There were many children there, and only one other deaf parent. Not really knowing anyone other than our partners well enough to do the lip-reading thing for the entire three hours, we gave up after about thirty minutes of socialising and instead became jungle animals with the hordes of feral children.

The other adults seemed to think this wasn’t worthy of comment, until one of the little boys got over-excited hunting a “Real Live Deaf Jaguar!” and threw up next to the pond. Whereupon another little boy slipped over in it, ran to his big sister for a comforting hug and suddenly there were three vomit-strewn children.

Naturally, I chose that moment to begin an all-encompassing conversation about the dangers of having a pond where children play…

Spring 2, Emily 0.

Sainsburys. Which has been, since the baby was born, a place to be scuttled into, raced round, and shot back out of in as short a time as is humanly possible. But, of course, it’s Spring now, so everything is much more leisurely, and who thinks twice about having a nice coffee in the cafe, basking in the sunshine that pours through the window? Well, I do now. And I won’t go into details, but it wasn’t because of the coffee, although it was because of something sort-of coffee-coloured.

Spring 3, Emily 0.

The Parent and Baby Group. A rite of passage for all new mothers, plus they invariably have biscuits. I can be tempted most places by a biscuit, and all places by jam. This particular Group promised jammy biscuits. ‘Nuff said. And… it wasn’t too bad. We did meet the Bonkers Neighbour, who stopped to mumble at us about the global threat of gays, and asked (for the sixth time) if baby was hearing or deaf, and expressed (for the sixth time) supreme relief at the answer.

Then, we arrived at the Group and realised the main leader dude had a beard, so he was incomprehensible. Then, we realised 90% of the other parents were incomprehensible, for various reasons, and my heart sank. Then, we found the 10% of deaf parents, and things got a lot better. We even mixed with the hearingies a few times, and it was actually lovely.

Nobody was much bothered whether they were talking in English, BSL or gobbledegook, because all we were really doing was admiring each other’s babies. But all too soon, the boy decided to show off his brand new screaming lungs, and all efforts to shush him were taken as encouragement to increase both volume and pitch. So, we left under a cloud; but hopefully one that will disperse before we return.

Spring 4, Emily 0.

And then. Saturday afternoon; The Final Round. Partner at work, dog at the farm, me in sole charge of baby. He wore his new sunhat, and I wore most of his lunchtime milk. We sat under an umbrella in the garden and watched the bugs.

We looked at clouds until the sun started to hurt our eyes, and then we looked at all the new buds on the tree instead. For hours. We had a small snooze in the shade behind the shed and caught a frog by surprise.

He is far too young to ever remember this (the baby, not the frog), but I’ll remember it for a long while.

The results are in.

Spring 4, Emily 10,000000000000000000.


Emily Howlett is a Contributing Editor to this site. She is a profoundly Deaf actress, writer, horsewoman and new mum. She describes herself as being “equally fluent in English, BSL and Gibberish, and completely rubbish at French.” Emily can be found all over the place on various escapades, but divides her time between Derby and London. She can often be found behind a large packet of crisps or any halfway decent book, and insists she can still play characters in their early twenties despite having a grey eyebrow hair.

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