Friday, December 19, 2008

I Saw The Sign...

... and it opened up my eyes... to the undeniable confirmation of the fact that Oliver is paying attention, soaking it up, learning all the time.

Since he was about six months, we've been using baby sign language with him despite zero response or seeming interest. I have felt pretty silly simulating milking a cow, drawing my hands outward from my nose like whiskers of a cat, and tapping my fingertips together while I said the corresponding "milk," "kitty," "more". But low and behold, he got it.

Last week it was questionable if he was really using the signs as intended or if it was a coincidence. The sign for milk kinda looks like the same as the "I'm fascinated with my hand and the way it can move" gesture he had done all along while staring at his moving fingers. And the sign for finished kinda looks like "I'm throwing my hands in the air because I can and it's fun."

But this week, he's really been using the signs in context. I'd say "Milk" is the big winner with "Finished" as a close second. "More" is usually the spoken "eeehhhhhheeee, eh, eh, eh" whine/grunt instead of the more-civilized fingertip tapping. And I haven't seen those kitty whiskers surface (but I had kinda dropped that one anyway to focus on the more action-oriented ones). It really is pretty amazing, though, to see him milk the cow around bottletime and to synchronize the all-finished sign with his spitting out of whatever bite he has in his mouth.

I'm not a fanatic by any means. I mean, I don't see the importance of tracing an elephant's trunk in the air to identify the African mammal. And can't see enough distinction between the signs for cold and afraid to really bother, but now that I've seen the power of this little sponge and the help that the signs can provide, I'm sorry that we didn't tackle more sooner.

I'm going to try to introduce "diaper" and "eat" soon so he can get those into his vocabulary, too. And since we eat a lot of bananas around here, that one seems apropo. The signs for mom and dad and grandma and grandpa would be sweet, but again they are all so similar (and a little weird -- tapping thumb to forehead is dad). I'm sure there are others that would be useful (especially now that I've taken some time to poke around on the web for more examples), but I have full faith that the boy will be speaking complete sentences by the spring (right?), so we'll just wait it out.

I don't have any good pictures of him signing, but again, poking around on the Internet, I found one of a boy signing "book," which (again, low and behold) is exactly what Oliver was doing last night when it was time for a book after his bottle. I kept going, "Book? Do you want to read a book?" Each time doing the sign for book that I know, which is putting the palms of your hands together, then opening them up with the pinky sides still touching. Oliver just kept doing this cute kinda gesture that we thought was indecisiveness, like "I don't know if I want to read a book." But, duh, this wrist rotation with the hands held together is probably a little advanced for the boy, so what you see is the babies turning their hands inside out and up, but away from each other. Wow. The kid is brilliant -- or maybe he was just signing "where?" Hmmm.


Angela said...

Little kids are like sponges and I am SO impressed- not only with Olivers'smarts but also with what an innovative and cool mom you are!

Emily said...

How exciting when all your hard work pays off! Can't wait to see it in person. Now if only someone could explain why the sign for "dad" isn't tapping your palm to your forehead....

Whitlatch Family said...

Glad the signs are working. All Ronny really did was more and eat, which eventually became 1 sign. He still does the more gesture when he talks about eatiing, but does not realize it.

You have way more patience if you are working on many signs.