Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Signs of the Times

Does it sound like this is a post about the apocalypse? Sorry. I’m sure that’s more exciting, but this is yet another entry about my daughter. Mothers are terribly self-indulgent with their blogs, so please bear with this one.
Anyway, I’ve been signing to Marguerite since she was a newborn and still couldn’t see very well. I might have looked dumb, but I was excited about it and wanted to practice. I’ve always wanted to learn sign language. At camp and at Sunday School, the counselors/ teachers would always teach us how to sign songs. To this day, I still know how to sign “Silent Night” (which my own mother taught us btw), “Jesus, Name Above All Names”, “As the Deer Pants for the Water” (decades I’ve been singing this and I’m still not certain that’s the title), and “God Is So Good”, to name a few. Anyway, learning to sign those songs really piqued my interest in studying sign language, but I never really followed through that interest until I became pregnant with Marguerite.
I had initially bought a copy of Baby Signs, but the signs taught there didn’t coincide with the American Sign Language (ASL). They would have served the purpose of baby signs, but I wanted to learn the official ones with my daughter so we would be able to communicate with the deaf and mute as well. While I researched which product was best to get next, I tuned in to YouTube and watched videos of signing babies for inspiration. In my research I came across mybabycantalk.com, which has instructional videos of signs of words most commonly used with babies. Their dictionary of signs, as I said, is limited to baby vocabulary, so I was very happy to learn about the MSU Sign Laboratory, which had a more comprehensive list of signs.
Marguerite is going on eleven months now and can sign a few words. The most common ones we use are “milk” (of course), “eat”, “water”, “more”, “please”, “thank you”, “all done”, “book”, “hi”/”bye”, “no”, “yes”, and “sorry”. I’d been signing away in the early months wondering when she would pick it up as she would never follow my lead when I demonstrated it (except for milk). There were times when I thought that maybe she was too young to learn them, but then she would start to do similar hand gestures and I would be assured that what I was teaching was, in fact, registering. My next question was whether she could associate the meaning of the word to the sign. When she was younger, she would do the signs, but never when I asked her to do them (the kid is very anti-stage-mothering), so I thought she could copy the actions, but not understand them. That was the case until she very distinctly asked for milk by signing. I was beyond thrilled, naturally, even if also a little embarrassed that I was actually taught by my own daughter not to be impertinent. There’s a correct time and purpose for signs and they’re obviously not for bragging moms’ show-off opps. And one thing further: never doubt the sponge-like quality of young minds. I’ve learned my lesson (just one of many) so kindly note that this mother is properly chastised.


maf said...

it's funny how babies can teach adults like us wonderful lessons!
i'm interested in teaching Toni how to learn sign languages. i'll definitely need some help from you. :=)

see ya!

spinninglovelydays said...

no prob :) will be glad to share