People, by their very nature, are curious. They try to figure things out. I know that's why people sometimes stare at Brielle - they are trying to figure her out -- especially children.
Brielle does not notice or care if they stare. They are wrong.
Once in a while, a brave soul might ask a question. No respectful question is too personal. I'm an open book, literally. After all, I'm writing a book about our lives.
So, what questions are most often asked?
...How did you learn sign language?
...Was it hard?
...How long did it take?
Twice last week someone asked these questions. I love to tell the story of how we learned our first signs one by one starting when Brielle was 18 months old. When she was about two, I took a class at a local community college, which scared me to death. I hate tests. When Brielle was five, a friend of ours started tutoring our whole family in sign language. I attended several weekend and week-long workshops to learn even more. For the last seven years, I've acquired new signs only by teaching myself from my sign language dictionary.
Now, I am fluent in sign, but definitely not interpreter level. I can't sign fast enough, interpret others' signs fast enough, nor have a complete enough vocabulary.
It was tough to learn at first. But, once I had a fairly large base of signs and knew the rules and patterns, it got much easier.
I taught several informal classes at my church and did more in-depth tutoring for another dozen people. These were rewarding experiences. I learned more and solidified my skills by having to teach others.
my church each Sunday. It brings me great joy to share my talents.
In some small way, sharing my signing skills also lets me take a situation that could seem meaningless and turn it into something that has purpose.
Sign language is so important to me, it actually defines me in some ways. So much so, I got a tattoo that incorporates the sign for "I love you."
So, as I tell people who ask the brief story of learning sign language, I tell them it's taken 16 years, I still learn new signs nearly every day, I learned in all kinds of ways, and yes, it was hard.
But, it was well-worth it to be able to communicate with my daughter.