Sunday, November 16, 2008

Uh-Oh, That Guy is Wearing a Hat

Ever since Linus was a mere 4 months old, we have been trying to initiate the use of sign language with him. There are many different philosophies out there regarding the use of sign language with infants. There are also many different ways to go about signing with your infants. One popular method is 'Baby Signs' a program that uses a simplified version of American Sign Language (ASL). The other popular method is to simply use ASL.

We chose to use basic ASL with Linus for two reasons: one, I'd actually taken an ASL course in college and therefore had some exposure and two, due to the intricacies of ASL, some 'Baby Signs' are actually offensive words to someone fluent in ASL. We didn't want to go offending anyone.
In the end it didn't matter what method we chose to use, Linus just went ahead and created his own.

He started with a basic sign at about 8 months of age when I almost missed the request for milk. That sign was followed by a long dry spell until one day shortly before his 1st birthday, I realized he had been patting his head all day. Now paying attention, I found he was patting his head every time I said, "Uh-oh." It was a mimic of my placing my hands on my cheeks when I said it. His uh-oh sign is not to be confused with his sign for hat in which he also pats his head. Uh-oh is made with both hands unless something is in your other hand, your other hand is supporting you, you don't feel like using both hands, or most any reason. Most of the time, hat and uh-oh appear identical to those of us less fluent and we are left scanning the room for someone wearing a hat or having just dropped something.

After reaching one year of age, Linus quickly added a few signs that are essential for a kid who loves to eat. First, he added "more" though only occasionally does he make an official more. It is usually just squeezing both fists at the same time. The more sign has slowly morphed into meaning "want" as in I want help, I want more, I want that. As demanding a sign as that was, Daddy felt it necessary to teach him "please". Now, we are treated to "want" and "please" in rapid succession whenever Linus desires something.

One of the signs he has created that I find particularly funny is one in which he raises both hands up in the air as if reaching for something. This sign started out with a logical meaning of "up" but was quickly adopted to mean "down" as well. It is hilarious to see an observer's face when Linus throws his arms up in the air and we respond by putting him down. They appear truly baffled.

It has been fun learning Linus Sign along with our son, but I am highly anxious for the day where he can just tell me what he wants so I'm not left guessing. Hat? Up? Uh oh?


Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I give you credit for teaching him this--I tried but was SO inconsistent that it never worked. Lucky Linus:)

Kelly Jernigan said...

Your comment about "up" is too funny - Wyatt often says "down" when he wants us to pick him up!

Susie said...

I love how they make them up when they get started - since we use straw cups in our house, a finger to the lips became the sign for "drink."

Chelsea + Jonathan said...

I knew exactly what you meant when I saw the title of this post :) I love Linus's communication. Maybe he can secretly talk and communicate really clearly, but he's just seeing how long everyone plays along. It's a good day if he's wearing pants ;)