I have met many lovely ladies on twitter, via the twitter #ppdchat. Story3girl is one of those. And I have loved hearing how she signs with her baby. I used to be an interpreter for the hearing impaired, and I rarely remember to use sign with my girls..I have done better with Patrice, but not near as well as Story3girl.
Check out her post here and then her blog, Sometimes Its Hard.
I wish I could talk to my baby.
Okay, perhaps that’s not entirely accurate. I talk to her a lot. I mean, she’s the only other person around all day, so I pretty much talk to her constantly. I just wish she’d talk back.
So instead we sign.
When Baby Girl was a newborn, I read about baby signing and was immediately sold on the idea. I get to communicate with her? It prevents tantrums? It improves her vocabulary and maybe even accelerates her speech. Boom. So almost immediately, I started signing to her. Just a few words at first, and whenever I remembered. By the time she was 6 months I was pretty consistently signing “milk,” “diaper,” and “all done.” This is a piece of cake, I thought. I’m so on the ball, she’ll be signing in no time. I’m a genius at this baby thing.
By ten months, I had decided we were complete baby sign failures. No matter how much I signed, no matter how much I tried, she showed no interest in signing back to me. For months, people had said to me, “Oh no. You don’t need to worry. Mine didn’t start signing until 8 months. They say 9 months is average.” But, people, she was 10 months old. And nothing. Was I doing it wrong? Was my baby broken?
Then, one day, when she was about ten and a half months old, Baby Girl signed “more.” At first it just looked like she was clapping, instead of bringing her fingertips together, but she was clearly doing it in response to the question of whether she wanted more. She was actually trying to tell me something.
It wasn’t smooth sailing from there. For the next couple months, “more” was the only sign she made, and she didn’t make it consistently. She still found it easier to get what she wanted by screaming or by throwing her high chair tray. And when she did sign more, it was still indistinguishable from clapping. Once again, I was frustrated. “Use your words. . . err, word, Baby Girl.” I was sure we’d never get this right, and I’d be doomed to signing purgatory FOREVER.
A little after her first birthday, she had a signing explosion, just like the books said she would. She signs “more,” “food,” “milk,” “dog,” “ball,” “duck,” “all done,” “mommy,” and “daddy.” The past couple of weeks she’s been signing “baby.” A few times I’ve seen a confused sign that resembles “diaper” right after she’s, ahem, used her diaper. She doesn’t sign “bed,” but I’m pretty sure that’s just because she doesn’t want to….
And it’s amazing. It doesn’t prevent the screaming 100% because, let’s face it, my girl is a bit of a drama baby, but it does help both of us to figure out what is necessary faster. If we’re playing and she signs, “eat,” I can get her into her high chair before the tantrum sets in. And while there are definitely days when I ask whose idea it was to teach her the sign for milk, I do prefer it to her ripping my shirt off or biting my shoulder.
It’s amazing to see what’s going on in her head too. She recognizes that her pink stuffed dog and grandma’s living,breathing pet are the same thing. She could tell that a rubber ducky was the same thing as her blanket ducky. But she thought every animal she saw at the zoo was a “doggie,” even the panda bear. (Even the emu, which she could not be convinced was a “bird.”)
Sometimes, I’m convinced, she messes with me. She will sit in her high chair and sign “more” “all done” “more” “all done” She will sign “eat” “duck” “milk.” Sometimes when we’re out,she’ll just start signing “baby” in her stroller, when there’s no one else around – no doubt, to remind me that she is, of course, my baby. When she doesn’t know what she wants, I think she just runs through her entire lexicon of signs, hoping that one of us will figure it out.
Now go check out her blog, Hard to Mommy…
And I don’t always. I try, sometimes probably too hard, but I don’t always get it right. And that’s okay. I’m just glad that she’s starting to hold up her end of the conversation.