Misty Weaver, Chief Editor at Baby Sign Language, shares a story this week.
I was intrigued when Misty contacted me about writing for Mommy Lite because personally, I never used any sign language with my kids (at least not any sign language that a parent should use in front of their kids...).
I wondered, could this be interesting? Would it teach me anything new? Moreover...could a story about baby sign language even be funny?
Turns out...it can.
Confessions of a Baby Signing Mom by Misty Weaver
This weekend I realized that baby signing can be a force for bad as well as a force for good.
It all started so innocently. My toddler and I have been attending baby sign language classes for three months, with varying degrees of success. I’ve learned stacks of signs, and consider myself a bit of an expert; my baby has learned zero signs and shows zero interest. Yet.
So what? Teaching Baby Sign Language takes time, right? The real upside of the class is the group of signing moms I’ve met – they are a real hoot and we regularly meet for coffee outside of class. This weekend was no exception. Saturday morning, four moms and six babies/toddlers took over the sofa section at the local coffee house and created our usual breed of havoc…
But this was no ordinary group of harassed moms. This was a bunch of signing, harassed moms. Who insisted on accompanying every word spoken to their babies and toddlers with the appropriate hand gesture. Seeing it from a stranger’s perspective, it must have looked pretty funny. ‘Would you like some more milk, Jonny?’ followed by a frantic squeezing of hands and pumping up and down on an imaginary cow. ‘Sam, do you have a wet diaper?’ accompanied by the sign for wet, which also happens to look just a little bit dirty.
Sign Language For Babies is fun to do – provided you don’t take it too seriously. Some of the moms take it very seriously, and persist to the point of despair even when baby is totally ignoring them.
This Saturday was Baby Meltdown day. Usually one of our brood takes it upon themselves to have a tantrum – this weekend all six decided to go for synchronized screaming, Olympic gold standard. While we moms stood over them, trying to stay calm while madly flapping our hands at our respective offspring, the babies reached fever pitch and the other patrons looked on, well, patronizingly.
I was the first to do it. I’ll own up right now. I sat down, turned by back on my toddler, and signed ‘Help Me’ to mom number two. She laughed, and signed back: ‘Kill Me, Please.’ (She improvised this, I don’t think there really is a baby sign for Kill, but you get the picture.) Mom number three caught on, pointed at the most disapproving face in the crowd, and signed ‘Ugly Cow.’
We all creased up. I joined in with ‘Horse Face’ as the long-faced waitress eyed us warily, and mom number four finished us off by signing ‘Kiss My Backside.’ Our laughter drowned out the screaming babies completely.
One by one the babies stopped crying and looked at their mommies, puzzled. Tantrum not working? What was going on? Maybe this Baby Signing business has some uses after all…