Ingrid Jensen O’Dell is an 8th grade student at Harborlight-Stoneridge Montessori School. In The Taste of Sunrise Ingrid plays a student at the school Tuc attends. She is the daughter of WFT Inclusion Coordinator Kristin Johnson
Being in a unique show like The Taste of Sunrise is certainly an honor. As a Child of Deaf Adults, a CODA, I can relate to this play and some of its characters. One hearing character in the play, Maizie, is a CODA. In one scene she says that she can hear and speak, but she is Deaf inside. Being Deaf inside to me is having Deaf memories, having Deaf characteristics, or placing myself into the category of Deaf people. That is something that I can relate to very much.
My time is not spent entirely with Deaf people, or with hearing; half of my time I am with hearing people, and the other half I am with Deaf people. I am comfortable with that, because I can fit into hearing and Deaf culture as a whole. Maizie does not like being part of two worlds. She would rather be in one world, the hearing world. To me, it is not a scenario of two worlds; it is simply one world, with Deaf and hearing together. I feel that I am not part Deaf and part hearing, but a swirl of both. I cannot say that I would rather be Deaf or be hearing, because I am already both, and I will forever be both. In the past, when I have told someone that my parents are Deaf, that person would usually act surprised, but in a nice way. There have been a few people that have felt sorry for me, and would apologize for my having Deaf parents. When I heard what those few people said, I felt, in a way, insulted. Deaf parents are not inadequate, not in the slightest. If you discredit Deaf culture, you are doing so to me, and other CODAs.
Deaf and hearing people are basically the same, but there are some differences. Deaf people notice more things visually, because they cannot hear what is going on around them. Their loss of hearing enhances their other senses, like sight. Hearing people can see and hear, so these senses are about equal. I have characteristics of a Deaf person, for instance, the one I just described. When I am watching a movie in a theatre, I often feel lost and confused, because there are no captions. To get people’s attention, I tend to tap them on the shoulder or try to get their attention without speaking. I read quickly because I am used to reading the captions on television or movies, which shift very quickly.
There are a lot of bonuses with having Deaf parents. I can play loud music; they won’t complain. I can sing as loudly and as obnoxiously as I want; they won’t complain. I can pretend to be Deaf. I can convince people that I am. I can talk on the phone endlessly; they won’t get annoyed. I can listen to music on the radio in the car, and they won’t be bothered. Occasionally, my mother will put on her hearing aid and listen to the music as well. When I’m not sure if my mother has her hearing aid on, I shout or talk loudly to see if she will react. It often surprises me when she does react, because I’m not used to it.
There are some things that aren’t great, like when the batteries in the smoke alarm are low and I have to hunt all over the house to stop the beeping. When I’m in the car and the turn signal is on and beeping when it shouldn’t be, I tell my parent that it is on. When my dog is barking, or the microwave is making weird sounds, I tell my parents. I am not told to tell them when these things happen, but I tell them because it bothers me, or I feel that I need to inform them.
All in all, Deaf people and hearing people are the same, but different. I am a CODA, and I am proud to be one. There is nothing wrong with being Deaf, having Deaf parents, or even just knowing Deaf people. If I ever have children, I will keep them, unlike Maizie, and I will teach them sign language. I will never be able to ignore my Deaf self, not that I will ever want to. I am Deaf and hearing, and very proud to be both.