What do we define as normal? What we live with in our everyday lives can be seen as normal because it is all we have ever known. For Silas Hoxie, 19, his idea of a normal life might be a life that others would struggle with.
“My mom was born deaf and my dad became deaf when he was around two from Meningitis” said Hoxie, a Maryland resident and Towson University Student.
Hoxie grew up in Odenton, Maryland with his parents and five siblings. Growing up, the older siblings had to work together to teach the younger ones how to talk and communicate with their parents.
“We would have to explain to my younger siblings how to communicate with my parents because they were learning how to talk but they were also learning sign language,” said Hoxie. “My oldest brother learned from my grandparents how to talk and then he taught my sister and so on.”
Many people know at least one sign in sign language but few are fluent in it. For Hoxie, translating to his parents is an everyday task.
“When we go out to restaurants or stores I have to sign to my parents and basically translate what’s happening to them, so I’d say that’s a challenge I’ve faced growing up with deaf parents but I’m so used to it it’s not inconvenient for me or anything.”
While most college students call their parents to check in and chat about classes, Hoxie and his siblings use face time and various apps to send their parents video and text messages.
“There’s this app called Glide where you can video tape yourself signing something and then send it. We have a group chat that we all use but you can also send messages individually. I don’t face time with them a lot, I mostly text and use apps.”
For Silas’ friends, his parent’s deafness does not create a barrier that they cannot overcome. Despite the difference in communication styles Hoxie’s friends always try to connect with his parents.
“One of my friends decided to major in deaf studies,” said Hoxie. “He came over during thanksgiving break and had a pretty long conversation with my parents. Eventually he ran out of things to sign but it was pretty cool.”
For those of Silas’ close friends who don’t know sign language, communicating through other means is not out of the picture.
“At first I didn’t know what to do,” said Ryan Twomey, 19, Hoxie’s hometown friend and college roommate. “You learn to communicate with your facial expressions and your hands and it’s not so bad.”
Despite the obstacles Silas’ and his family overcome each day he always maintains a positive attitude. He’s learned not to take life too seriously and that it is okay to be different.
“I think the best part about growing up with Silas,” said Twomey, “is when he would roll up to soccer games with the music blasting and his parents wouldn’t even care.”