Posts tagged ‘Signing’

December 12, 2011

Batting Lefty

Friday night I cut my hand on a can of tomato sauce. It sounds silly, and I know the situation I created was kind of dumb, but in the heat of the pizza-topping moment, it was what it was.


John was a champ all weekend, doing literally everything and more to cook, clean, and take care of Jacob. This morning is the first time I’ve really had to do anything on my own with my hand, and I don’t want to push my luck (or lack thereof). So I leave you with three things to think about this morning.


1. Jacob learned to sign “please” this weekend. It’s supposed to be your hand flat against your chest, moving in a circular motion. Jacob modified it to have his hand move over his mouth instead. And not only that, he sticks out his tongue while he does it, thus licking his hand over and over. When I ask him to say please, I end up with a little boy with a slimy hand. I’m not sure teaching manners at this age is all it’s cracked up to be.


2. Fun fact: I can do more than I expected with my left hand. The one thing that’s proved impossible, though, is washing my left arm.


3. And the obligatory Jacob photos. Bananas!

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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.

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