Monday, February 16, 2015

Attention all CODAs! You're opinions are wanted!

We as CODAs are well versed in how similar we are. We share a lot of common experiences growing up with Deaf parents and all that comes with it. Yet, no matter how similar the experiences are, no matter how great it feels to hang around each other and share our stories, we are all still very different from one another. It’s not necessarily a good or bad thing, it just simply is what it is. It’s life, and we deal with it. There’s a lot of beauty in the diversity.
However, I feel that sometimes the differences aren’t always good things, and these are all just matters of opinions. For some CODAs, there are likely certain traits in other CODAs that make them cringe, and for other CODAs it’s something else. For me, it’s watching CODAs who act as if without them, their parents or other Deaf people would just crumble without their ability to take care of them. If you are reading this, a CODA, and are offended, well, I’m not necessarily sorry. I don’t mean ill will, it’s just something I don’t understand, and often times drives me crazy.
The reason it makes me nutty is this. How does a CODA go through life with Deaf parents, know their struggles in a hearing society, know their friends as well they know some of their own closest relatives, and still come out with this attitude of being the caretaker? Its obvious that many of us as CODAs have often had to interpret as children for our parents, or handle phone calls for our parents that children had no place handling, and all of the rest of the things we may have had to do at one time or another. I get that not all Deaf parents raise their hearing children the same as others, or that having siblings can help shape the different roles that particular set of siblings fall into. It’s logical to make the leap that from time to time we may feel like the caretaker, but let’s dig a little deeper. 
I think the part about it that really dumbfounds me is how it comes to be that CODAs who act this way seems to forget that their parents were around before them. Did they need you then? For my experience, at times I had to interpret, take calls, be the face that every hearing person spoke to when they realized I was the only one they could talk to (which often came with that attitude that I wasn’t just the only one they could talk to, I was the only intelligent one in the bunch). That last one always infuriated me to no end because I knew my parents were every bit as competent as any of the jerks I had to make nice to in front of my mom and dad. The only reason the situations occurred was the fact that audism existed, and obviously still does. But I also went to Deaf Club with my parents regularly. I often spent the night at their friends’ homes when we would visit. Thanks to my parents, I know who Deaf people are, and I know that if I wasn’t around to be that bridge for the Hearing, my parents would still have gotten done what they needed to get done, even if it would have been tougher and may have looked completely different.
I also know that some of our parents may play that role that they cannot do things themselves and they need us CODAs to fix it. My parents were from an older generation I saw it occasionally amongst them and their friends. Its just that when I try to see how some CODAs develop this attitude or arrive at the conclusion that they are the glue holding their parents lives together I become seriously agitated. I mean, did some of us, regardless of how intensely proud we are of our parents, how well we sign and everything else, just simply buy into the things that hearing people have said to us our whole lives? I don’t mean we actually deep down believe them, even if a good majority of it came from our extended family. I just wonder if all the years of those ridiculous comments, opinions, and observations somehow etched itself into some of us and became a part of our personalities? I just don’t understand it. 
It’s not easy to define CODAs, and it doesn’t help that it can be so difficult for us to define ourselves. I know I have that problem in a lot of areas of my life, and I want nothing more than to understand it better. Yet even with all that, I have never let myself believe that my parents would have perished or be significantly worse off without me there, and I know most of us as CODAs don’t feel that way. But it’s evident that some of us do, and when I see it, I want to put a pen through my eye or something much less gruesome and equally painful to distract me from it so I won’t say or do something stupid.
Does audism play a role in this? Could it be some type of CODA privilege that is being subconsciously enjoyed? I’m not sure of the answer myself, and would love to know everyone else's thoughts on the matter. Especially from any CODAs reading this.
One more thing. My opinion here doesn’t mean I hate CODAs who do act that way. I am disgusted with that attitude, and I may not like a fellow CODA because of it, but being CODA is belonging to something unique. I cherish that, and love every CODA brother and sister because of it. I just needed to vent, and even more so, want to have an open discussion about this so we can all understand each other better. CODA hugs and CODA love to you all!

Until next time,

R. M.