Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Today has been a much more peaceful day than I've generally spent recently. I'm really quite glad for it.

I didn't really do a lot. But I did take my niece to move into the deaf school in Columbus. I'm really very happy she's there. It's the best place I can imagine for her. Generally speaking, I don't like institutions. Particularly boarding institutions. But in Britt's case, it's a very good thing. I can't help but sort of grin with pride when I see random staff members catch a glance of her, run across campus to hug her, and start signing much faster than I keep up with about how glad they are that she decided not to go to a hearing school after all. I'm looking forward to living with my niece later this year. When I was younger, I knew a lot of sign language. I could keep up with almost any conversation between any of the deaf people I knew at the time. But over the past decade of signing exclusively at holidays, I've forgotten almost everything I ever knew.

It's an odd thing, but for the first time in my life, I feel this responsibility to be a good example for someone. Living with my sixteen year old niece isn't going to be much like having a kid. But I will be responsible for her while we're together. I just want to do a good job of it. I want to show Brittany all of the things in my world that are good; the things that I most want her to try for. I want her to see a college campus, and I want her to see a concrete example of someone who's actually a bit like her (yeah, I know I'm not deaf, but I do come from the same working class background in which the only college graduates I ever knew were my obnoxious teachers), going to school and having a good, successful and minimally obnoxious time of it. I want to show her stability. I want to teach her how to spend a perfectly boring Saturday afternoon at home, sipping perfectly boring chocolate milk, reading a perfectly boring classic novel, and enjoy it.

I know how naive that is. She's sixteen already, and mostly mentally formed. And I'd be lucky to have that much success if I were to have my own infant to work on for sixteen plus years. But I like Brittany. Even if she never falls in love with the Brothers Karamazov, I'm happy with her. I think she's done a good job with her life so far. She's a smart kid, and independent as hell. And unless she really makes her mind up to fail, she seems to have that magic touch which is just bound to succeed. And she doesn't require my approval. I like that.

Other things aren't looking up. But I'm happier, and that's nice.