Waiting in the foyer at Amelia’s deaf school for her to finish kinder is a warm and frequently special place to be.
Sitting there, in the middle of the hectic end-of-day rush to get home, I watch the kids signing to each other with awe and respect and I love them.
The other day, a young girl, maybe six or seven years old, nudged my arm to show me a little shell she was holding in her hand. In Auslan, I asked her, “What’s that?”
We mouthed the word “shell” to each other, but she was desperate to show me the sign and I so wanted her to teach me.
But she needed two hands.
After a few seconds fumbling with the shell I extended my hand so she could rest it there.
Her hands now free, she lifted one to the other and rotated her right hand out from the left, like the drawing together of layers into a whole.
Ah, shell. I placed it in my lap and repeated the sign back to her.
No not quite, she wasn’t happy with my signing form that time. Maybe a finger or two askew, or a motion not delivered deftly enough.
I tried again and she nodded with approval. Got it.
Then, quick as flash, she reclaimed her shell and skipped away.
And I couldn’t stop smiling.