Monday, May 3, 2010

Babies Are Using Sign Language!

Monday, May 3, 2010
Our 17-month-old granddaughter and her mom visited just after Easter. It had been almost five months since we last saw them, because they live in Georgia. Anyway, at such a young age, five months is a long time, and we marveled at our little darling’s progress. She’d started walking just after their last visit. She dances whenever she hears music. She says a few words, including the toddler’s favorite “NO!” And she’s got teeth!

But the most intriguing thing was that she signs. She actually learned some sign language and uses it to communicate her needs. I find it charming and amazing. I’d read about how babies are being taught sign language, so that they can communicate before they acquire spoken language. But I’d never seen one use it. It’s a fabulous idea, since I remember how frustrated my son would get when he tried repeatedly to tell me something in his version of baby talk that I just couldn’t decipher. Sign language cuts down on that frustration. But it can be hard on grandparents!

When our daughter went out for the evening and left the baby with us, she played for a while before starting to look tired. I held her and tried to give her a bottle. But she sat up and ran her hand across her chest, which she learned as the sign for “please”. As she did it, she looked at me and said, “Momma? Pease”. She was asking for her mom and adding “please”, hoping that I’d somehow make her mom appear. When her mom didn’t show up, she repeated herself a few times and started to curl her lower lip. It killed me, because I couldn’t produce her mom, and she didn’t understand why. I walked around with her, rubbing her back, until she fell asleep on my shoulder. Sign language is great for babies, but now I’m the one who’s frustrated, having to tell her that I can’t give her what she's asking for.


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