It was thanksgiving weekend and my Mom and step Dad were in from out of town for dinner. I had the chance to show my son off to their delight (and mine too). It was the first chance I got to really show all the fruits of my labour.
Thankfully, Grandma was impressed. I say this because it wasn’t always a smooth path forward. Perhaps it was never said outright, but I could sense that my Mom thought signing was a bit hokey pokey. She had all the usual concerns – that our baby would be delayed in speaking, that it was a waste of time since he’d be talking soon enough and on and on. However, she took to him quickly and as he did to her. He signed up a storm. We went over his favourite books and signed all the animals. We covered his motivating signs and also his routine signs. I showed how he could ask for things. I made sure to offer him choices between things so he could sign what he wanted.
At the end of the trip she had to admit that he was a pretty smart cookie. She compared him to his cousin of 6 months his senior – saying he knows more words, but habitually whines instead of asking for things. Of course he does, I chirped in, he knows what he wants he just can’t say all the big words. That’s the beauty of sign language. No matter how big the word, the sign is just about as simple as the rest. Even if he can’t do the sign perfectly, he’ll come up with a pretty darn good approximation and get his message across. Before she left I had to remind her that my son wasn’t a genius, that he was just an ordinary toddler. He just got the early gift of baby sign.