When was I pregnant, I had more than a few different people ask me if I was going to “sign” with my baby. I hadn’t heard of the growing trend of using ASL to communicate with your child before they can really speak, so I couldn’t really say.
But once I learned a little bit more about it, I thought it might be pretty cool. I enrolled in a signing class with my good friend and her daughter, P, when O was about six or seven months old.
In theory, it was cool. I even took another advanced signing class. But as a working mom dealing with some personal issues at the time, trying to remember to sign just didn’t work. I didn’t have the time or energy to be that dedicated. I figured he’d learn to talk soon enough.
But that good friend? She kept at it. And with a fervor I can only dream of having. I was, and am, amazed. Soon enough her daughter started signing back. And how cute it was.
One day last week at daycare I sat O next to P at breakfast. I started giving P some pieces of O’s granola bar. She signed “more” to me–the first time I witnessed that particular sign. I oohed and awwed, and, of course, gave her more granola bar.
Later that evening, I was feeding O. To my amazement, he started signing “more” to me after he finished all his fruit. I flipped my lid. I called some people. I was that excited. He learned to sign from P!
In about two weeks time, he’s learned “eat,” “baby,” and “milk.” He’s working on “cracker”–P’s latest accomplishment.
It’s amazing how much these few signs have improved our relationship. O babbles a lot, and knows a few of the basic words, but that doesn’t always mean I know what he’s saying. Also, sometimes he’ll be so hungry, so thirsty, or so whatever, that he starts to melt down. All I have to do now is say “What’s wrong?” and he starts pounding his closed fist into his chin (the ultra-violent boy way of signing “eat”), signing milk, or “fake” rubbing his eyes (our sign for tired).
I can’t say this signing thing is foolproof. He tends to confuse “eat” with “more.” And sometimes he’ll pop right up from bed and start doing the chin pounding. I know he’s not hungry, but I think since I got so excited when he started signing, he gets a little overzealous himself.
But still, I’m amazed. Amazed that he picked it up so quickly–and amazed that he learned from his friend P! True evidence that kids really do learn from example. Now if I can just stop swearing and those other kids in daycare can stop biting…