Emily Howlett: 9 milestones deaf parents should record

Posted on May 6, 2014



Have you seen any of these hugely popular ‘Baby Milestones’ things? They’re generally books, or lists, or online checkboxes of gorgeous and lovely things your little one will do, so that you can record precisely when each happened for the first time.

Today baby grew a tooth! Hurray, baby! You will need a few more before you can tackle that cheeseburger you’re eyeing up.

Today, baby walked! Hurray, baby! You will walk a lot from now on. I am done with carrying you.

Lovely stuff. Memories are made of this, and so on. Which they are, but these ones, although important to you, are also pretty much the same for everyone. At some point, your baby will do all the things on this list, and you will dutifully fill it in and store it in a special safe place, which means you’ll never be able to find it again.

However. If you are a deaf parent, you get some hidden extras. You get the bonus DVD. Don’t forget to add all these to your List of Firsts -:

1. The first time you use the Deaf Card to get out of changing a disgusting nappy.  

So, you’re in a room with people who can hear. They know you’re deaf. So, they feel it’s their duty to tell you that she’s just done a monstrous, loud, wet fart that probably wasn’t just a fart.

So, you point out you didn’t hear it, and they did, and therefore it’s their responsibility. Deaf Card; what power we wield!

2. The first time she almost pulls the television down on top of her, trying to pick the subtitles off the screen.

These flat screen televisions are a menace. Ok, so you can buy those straps that hold them to the wall, but, frankly, you’re going to have a little helper when you attach them (it might say ‘easy-installation’ on the box but you’d better set aside at least three days).

And your little helper will remember forever that the straps are there, and will need to climb behind the telly to inspect them regularly. Daily. Hourly. Forever.

3. The first time you stood on him because he walked up behind you and you didn’t hear him.

I don’t think I need to explain this one in any greater detail, but it does link nicely with -:

4. The first time you left him alone and lost him.

Obviously not a ‘Home Alone’ kind of losing, but there’s nothing quite like the heart-stopping horror of returning from a toilet break or toast-making exercise and he has disappeared.

Literally fifteen seconds ago he was sitting in the middle of the rug reading ‘That’s Not My Dog, Its Fur Has No Jam In It”.

Now, he’s vanished.

There are only three rooms downstairs, so he’s definitely here somewhere. Unless someone got in and stole him. What if someone came through the letterbox and stole him? (When a parent panics, they really panic, by the way.)

Then the curtain twitches, or the wardrobe door falls open, and the relief is equalled only by the determination to have him fitted with a GPS ankle monitor that afternoon.

5. The first time the baby monitor goes weird.

The lights are flashing. The pillow is vibrating. You haul yourself from the bed ready to deal with whatever trauma has woken her so violently… And she’s snoring her little head off.

Either the neighbours are at something really loudly, or there are gremlins in the machine. I’m not sure which is preferable.

6. The first time he uses recognisable signs.

This is just beyond amazing. It’s such a lovely, bonding thing for a deaf parent to see their baby signing back to them. Ok, so maybe he was signing ‘mummy’ at the dog’s face, or even on the dog’s face, but still… It’s the thought that counts. Placement comes later.

7. The first time she taps you.

This is up there with starting to use sign language. It’s the moment when you realise that even if there are communication barriers out there in the world, there’s none at home.

There’s no barriers in the family. Nobody taught her, but she’s figured out how to get your attention, and it’s just a beautiful thing. Truly. However…

8. The first time she taps someone who freaks out about it.

Hearing people are not used to being tapped. (I actually wrote that as ‘taped’ then, which is something entirely different and not really to be encouraged.) They aren’t always good with being touched randomly.

They especially aren’t good at being poked in the neck repeatedly, with some force. Sometimes, they take offence at being slapped in the back of the knee by a surprisingly hard little fist.

And sometimes they yell, or poke back, or generally act like being tapped it a bad thing, when actually deaf parents want their children to be praised for their insight.

You will always remember the first time someone tells your child off for tapping them. Apart from anything else, those police cells are cold at night.

9. The first time you realise that, even though society might think you’re a bit broken, and sometimes it’s really hard to be deaf in this world, and the Government might think you probably shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce…

Despite all that, you’re bringing up this fabulous, clever, beautiful person with amazing communication skills and empathy for others. I have nothing to add to this last one, except; I think this should get the biggest tick box of all. Make sure you fill it in.

Do you know of any other deaf parent Milestones that could be included on this list? Let us know in the comments below!

Emily Howlett is a Contributing Editor to this site. She is a profoundly Deaf actress, writer, horsewoman and new mum. Emily used to be found all over the place, but motherhood has turned her into somewhat of a self-confessed homebody. She now has not one, but four grey eyebrow hairs. C’est la vie. She tweets as @ehowlett

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