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Archive for October, 2012

Awesome Things A Certain 1.5-Year-Old Did Before His Mid-Afternoon Nap (Or, Why Teaching Your Baby Sign Language is Super Rad)

Awesome Things A Certain 1.5-Year-Old Did Before His Mid-Afternoon Nap
(Or, Why Teaching Your Baby Sign Language is Super Rad)

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Picked all of the new-fallen leaves out of the dog water outside, then pointed at the bowl and shouted at the dog (“DAHHHG!!!”) to come drink while signing “water.” (bouncing the pointer finger of a w-shape against chin)

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After watching me repair his favorite sunglasses with duct tape, took some packing tape off a shelf and sat down in the middle of the living room floor to finish the job. A small screech of attention-getting in my direction caused me to turn around. He had pulled about a yard of packing tape off the roll and was standing in the middle of it with his shades in one hand. He gave me an imploring, raised-eyebrows look – “Some help, ma?” – and calmly waited while I rolled the tape back up. He then simply pretended to unroll more tape and “put it on” the glasses. (Heart melt.)

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Asked for the deodorant from the shelf; thinking he would take the cap off and spill it, I did not at first oblige. He was calmly insistent, and then signed “Please.” (rubbing a flat hand against your chest.) Because he was so dang cute and asked nicely, I gave it to him: he then, without removing the lid, rubbed the container on both underarms, smiled, and handed it back up. D’aw.

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…then asked to “brush” his teeth with sign language (making a teeth-brushing motion with your pointer finger), and stood in the bathroom vigorously cleaning his choppers with genuine purpose and delight. I told him, “You’re so smart – it must be easier to brush your teeth when you’re smiling so big.”

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Brought things back from the morning walk: Two flowers he stopped to pick all on his own, one rock, one pebble, and a lost toy he recovered from the tall grass. After returning indoors, he spent several minutes arranging the totems nicely on his tray before asking for breakfast (the sign for ‘eat’ – holding your thumb, index, and middle fingertips together and bouncing on the lips) and something to drink (a “taking a swig from a cup” motion).

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Drank his end-of-the-cereal-bowl rice milk, raising both arms tall to catch the last drops, then smiling at me through the clear bottom of the bowl.

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Came out of the reiki room signing for me to help him take his shoes off – with a combination of “please,” “shoes,” (bouncing two closed fists together) and “all done.” (swiping motion with both hands parallel to the ground.) I wondered why he wanted me to do this, as he usually adores wearing his shoes all day about the house, tap dancing around; he confirmed that this was his intention by signing a toothy-grinned “Thank You,” (open palm from mouth to mid-air) ; then proceeded to hop up and scuttle back to the next room. He came out a moment later clomping slowly in a pair of dad’s sneakers.

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Asked for “crackers;” (knocking the fist of one hand against the elbow of the other) asked for “banana,” (holding one pointer finger up and peeling it like a banana with the other hand) asked for “food”; then shuttled his snacks to me one small fistful at a time until I had built up a small surplus on the kitchen table. Asked to sit on my lap, & gently and happily polished off all his snacks — at one point snapping a rice cake into many small pieces in order to fit it into the jar he was playing with. The feel of his warm little self occupying his own little space and time in the nook of my lap while I work is so ridiculously cherish-able.

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Before our second late morning walk, he again signed “all done,” and made the motion for “jacket” (bringing both hands up the respective arms as if putting on a coat) — and tried to wiggle out of his sweater. I explained that he needed a jacket in order to greet the cool weather outside. He was persistent, and continued removing his sweater on his own, so I helped him out. He then pointed up to the wall at his corduroy blazer with the harboring emphasis of an eighteen-month-old. Oh – he wanted to wear a different jacket. :)

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Thank goodness for sign language. If lil mini-Hawk hadn’t mastered the twenty-odd signs he now knows and uses regularly, I could see us experiencing a lot more frustration and miscommunication. As it is, the signs he knows not only help connect him to the world (pointing and signing “airplane” as one flies overhead, or when he sees one in a book, for example), but allow him to continue to assert his independence in super healthy, tantrum-less ways. He still wants what he wants when he wants it sometimes, but seems pretty willing to give us the extra minute to figure out what he’s trying to say, since it ends up more beneficial for him, too. And, hey — you’re a year and a half old as of three days ago, and you want to wear a different pair of shoes, and you say “please?” Well, hell, yeah!

After watching Baby Signing Time dvds since his very early days, Lio began using signs at about ten or eleven months. We made sure to incorporate some signs into his everyday life, doing the sign and repeating the word several times, then showing him what it meant with an object. His first signs were “drink,” “water,” “food,” and “all done.” “All done” was particularly helpful – instead of suddenly clearing his tray with one swoop or screaming to alert us that he wanted to move on with his day, a quick “all done” sign would have him mobile in moments, without the mess or frustration. About three months ago, his signing vocabulary suddenly skyrocketed seemingly overnight. His knowledge had surpassed ours – we had to start watching the BST episodes along with him to figure out what he was saying.

Now, Lio signs just about every sign right along with the program. When he hears the theme music to the show, he runs into the room saying “BEH-BEEEE!” and doing the sign for “baby.” Aside from making it easier to communicate, easier to assert toddler independence, and flexing those little baby brain muscles, the obvious pleasure Lio receives from learning and then connecting that knowledge to something concrete in life is so, so cool to watch. The results of using his knowledge and having a relatively uncomplicated way of communicating with us make him so happy. I think it is building his self-esteem and showing him just how capable he is — which, as a parent, is fascinating to behold.

If that is just a couple hour’s worth of activity, imagine how blessed we feel to spend each day with this small, energetic, unfolding wonder. Certainly, a never-ending amount could be written on the improvement of one’s life con toddler. Thanks, Lio!

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