I think it was around six months where I got all gung ho about trying to teach Remy baby signs. It didn’t last. As it turns out, lots of signs require two free hands and for some reason, I found myself with at least one hand occupied most anytime a sign seemed appropriate. Either that, or Remy had his attention distracted elsewhere, usually on either learning to walk or hacking one of our many baby cabinet lock devices. I could be wrong, but I think the baby has to see the parent make the sign to learn it.
Signing fell by the wayside, unless you count the milk-milk sign that Gary would do while distracting the baby from actually feeding. Hard to get inside a baby’s head, but the milk sign probably means something like “entertaining thing that Dad does while I take numerous breaks from feeding on Mommy’s lap.” Not sure that’s a terribly utilitarian implementation of baby signing. Oh, and Mom loves it when that happens.
So here we are at nearly 10 months with nary an officially recognized sign. Let’s be fair, though. He has taught us the following Remy-created nonverbal messages:
- Reaching towards the front door while whining = Let’s go outside. Now.
- Eyebrows raised, wide eyes and mouth open in an O = Ooh. I’m about to do something sudden and exciting like possibly crawl really fast and head butt Mommy or Daddy.
- Pat and swipe empty high chair tray = Where the heck is my finger food?
- Pull on Mommy’s or Daddy’s pant legs, arms high with attention getting pats with his right arm = Pick me up.
- Grabbing and snapping the straps on Mommy’s camisole = I want to feed.
- Burrow face into Mommy’s chest = I want to feed.
- Wide open mouth to suck on Mommy or Daddy’s chin, elbow, or some other accessible body part = I want to feed.
You’ll see that there are several variations for the most important item. I guess it’s like the Eskimos having a bunch of words for snow.
You may also notice that a signal for dirty diaper is missing. That’s because he’d rather spend all day long in a wet diaper than be subjected to the horror that is a diaper change, although I can sometimes get through it OK by turning on the ceiling fan and bribing him with a corn flake. Sometimes. If the diaper is more than wet, well, then the sign is the odor. Potty training should be fun some day.
Anway, I think I’d like to give another shot to a small repertoire of actual, real sign language. The best approach would be to start with items that seem to have the most saliency to our little guy. These would include milk, eat, outside and I love you. Maybe we’ll even try Mommy, Daddy and hungry. We’ll see how it goes.