Posts tagged ‘Milestones’

December 6, 2011


Over the past few weeks, Jacob’s really taken to signing. Like they say, I was doing it for a long time (only sometimes feeling ridiculous) before I saw him begin to respond. Now we have proof of how much he’s taken in. He started to say “thank you” last week. The motion is a little bit more violent than it should be, but it’s super cool to see it, all the same.


When I tell people how old Jacob is, they often ask whether he’s walking, talking, or both. Walking is an affirmative, and he often gets compliments at the park for how good of a walker he is. Do they make a bumper sticker for that, maybe in the style of those “My student is on the honor roll” ones? Because I’d get one, even though we don’t have a car. Or a bike. Anyway.


When I tell folks that he’s pretty much just using “da” to verbalize, but he’s signing, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with people’s interest and encouragement. In learning about signing, I’ve read that some people don’t esteem it very highly. Some people are concerned that because signing kids speak later, they won’t speak as well. Really, their language acquisition is often better in the long run. I think it’s because they avoid some of the frustration of not being able to communicate.


Well, sometimes.


The great thing about signing is how much of what Jacob wants to say John and I can understand. The other day, Jacob was uncomfortable because he was too warm. He made his sign for “hot” and (eventually) we figured out that we needed to take a layer off of him. Happy baby, happy parents.


The tough thing is when Jacob is around people who don’t know ASL or the signs he’s created. “Help” has ironically been the most problematic sign thus far.


The sign for “help” is a fist seated on an open hand, moved up and down together, as if you’re offering a helping hand. Jacob’s modification is one hand in a fist and the other hand wrapped around it, moved up and down together. John and I recognize any variation on the up-and-down movement as a request for help.  Others, of course, don’t.


A few weeks ago, our Italian friends thought he was just being really dramatic and pleading for something they had.  Over Thanksgiving, John’s Chinese mother thought Jacob was making the sign her culture uses to offer congratulations. I don’t think she knew what she was being congratulated for, but she thought it was really cool that Jacob could speak Chinese (especially when John and I can’t . . .)


What a shame to be only fourteen months old, and already so misunderstood.

December 2, 2011

Confirm and Deny

Comedian Eddie Izzard has this bit about what to do if you lose your place while signing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Now that I think about it, I can’t imagine why a British man would have occasion to sing that song in such a public venue that his participation would matter, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that his method is to dramatically open and close his mouth, while gesturing confirmation and denial with his hands. I was thinking about that this week because 1) it’s funny and 2) Jacob seems to have the same theory about life.

Although he’s still not using too many “words” (“da” now translates to dog, dance, truck, microwave, bird, squirrel, cat, and sometimes, Dad), he’s taken to nodding to say “yes.” Thank goodness! For such a long time it seemed like he could only shake his head for “no” and smile with an otherwise blank expression, which I was to understand as either “yes” or “I have no idea what you’re saying.”

So this nodding thing got really fun this week. Sometimes he’d answer questions honestly, and sometimes I could just ask him silly questions that I knew he’d say yes to, in order to entertain myself. (I admit it, Mom, the pacifier trick you did when I was a baby really wasn’t a big deal. I totally get why you did it.)

One conversation we’ve had often this week, as a check:

Me: “Jacob, are you hungry?”
Jacob: nods
Me: “Are you always hungry?”
Jacob: nods again

Which, of course, led me to start saying things like this:

Me: “Jacob, does Mommy love you?”
Jacob: nods
Me: “Do you love Mommy?”
Jacob: nods

Aww. So cute, right? Until Wednesday, when all nods were inexplicably exchanged for head-shakes.

Me: “Jacob, does Mommy love you?”
Jacob: shakes his head
Me: “Do you love Mommy?”
Jacob: shakes his head

Again, the check:

Me: “Jacob, are you hungry?”
Jacob: nods, with an exuberant smile

I think for a minute, and then, on the way to the kitchen:

Me: “Okay, I’ll get you some lunch. Now, do you love Mommy?”
Jacob: shakes his head

Confirm and deny. Confirm and deny. Anything to keep ’em on their toes.

November 21, 2011

Time to Celebrate!

Yesterday was Jacob’s Baptismal day. I didn’t grow up celebrating Baptismal days, and I didn’t know that anyone did. John’s family introduced me to this tradition, and if only for the fact that it doubles the amount of cake you can justify each year (eight birthdays + eight Baptismal days = cake! cake! cake!), I found it to be a really great thing to commemorate.

John’s family, and I’m sure others too, mark the day not only with special dessert after dinner, but also with a chance to “honor” the person being celebrated. Even when I was John’s girlfriend, I loved being part of this tradition. In whatever order people feel comfortable, everyone around the table shares something he admires or appreciates about the honoree. Sometimes it’s a recent act that displayed joy, faith, or integrity. Sometimes it’s something the honoree did to motivate the honor-er to think more about his or her own faith or character. Other times, it’s more simply the characteristics of the honoree that inspire honor-ers to be better, stronger, happier people.

Whether the honoree was John, one of his parents, or one of his siblings, I enjoyed offering my own thoughts as much as hearing everyone else’s. How often does a family take the time to consider the beauty, the individuality,  and the promise of each of its members? This sort of encouragement is something I hope John and I can foster in our own family, and that starts today.

In the midst of all this honoring, there was always one comment that, frankly, baffled me. Whoever could get to it first would honor the baptismal day boy/girl for being a “son or daughter of God.” For a long time, I didn’t understand this. Weren’t we remarking on things the person had chosen to do? Characteristics that, even if they came naturally, the person allowed to shine even in tough situations? How could we honor someone for something over which he or she had absolutely no control?

Being Jacob’s mother, I’ve come to understand this in a very humbling way this year. Every day I learn something new about Jacob’s character, his temperament, and the choices he’s likely to make. Yet even before these things began to surface, I loved him simply because he was a little boy, my little boy, made in the image and likeness of God. I love him simply because he exists. And that is how God loves us—simply because we exist.

So today—or yesterday, really—I honor Jacob for being a son of God. And for teaching me what that means.

Happy Baptismal day, Jacob!

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