Teaching My Babies Sign Language Was A Bad Idea
I thought teaching my babies sign language would make it easier for them to communicate with me. If anything, it’s made communication harder. They learned exactly one sign, which they use for everything, meaning I still have no idea what they want from me.
When my twins were immobile lumps who stared at me all day like cuter versions of Jabba the Hutt, I looked for activities that were educational to pass the long hours between naps. I found some websites on baby sign language and the pictures of adorable babies “talking” to their parents had me convinced this was a great way for my children to communicate faster and more easily. I signed words like “cat”, “food”, “bottle”, “more”, “mommy” and “daddy” at them but not only did they never sign back at me, they barely seemed interested in what I was doing. After a few months with no results I gave up. By then they had learned to crawl and I was too busy preventing them from accidentally killing themselves to keep up with the signing.
Fast forward ten months later. The boys are now nineteen-months-old and although our pediatrician says it’s nothing to be concerned about, I’m a little bummed that they still aren’t talking very much. So obviously, I was beyond thrilled last week when they signed the word “more” out of the blue at lunch one day.
I pushed away the feelings of guilt about all those times I swore in front of them believing they were too young to know what I was saying. Instead I focused on the fact that my babies were clearly geniuses. For two glorious days I showed my kids off like one does a prized pig at the county fair. I bragged at play dates, drove them over an hour to show the grandparents and posted videos to Facebook. I was just about to order one of those baby reading kits and contact TLC about getting our own show when it all blew up in my face.
I would present them with a snack and without taking a single bite they signed “more” and cried. At first I thought the yelling was because they didn’t like the type of snack being offered, so I tried one snack option after another in an effort to give them what they wanted. Still they signed at me, “More, more, MOAR!” When it got to the point that I was making it rain Chips Ahoy and they were still signing “more” while screaming in my face, I realized I had a problem on my hand much worse than my carpet full of crumbs.
- I made PB&J, they wanted grilled cheese.
Now my boys think signing “more” is what they should do when they want something. Anything. And most of the time I have no idea what that thing is. Now I spend most of my day feeling like an abused chamber maid. I offer up toys the way one offers a potential outfit to Mariah Carey– with a lavish description of how amazing it is, while simultaneously backing away slowly and holding my breathe.
In addition to having two screaming toddlers, a crunchy carpet and a toy box that has been completely emptied onto the floor in a failed attempt to please the tyrants, there is the issue of the books. The boys love to be read to. They used to be satisfied with hearing any story I grabbed, but not anymore. Sometimes I barely get past the title page before they starting squawking and signing “more” at me. My son Lolo will even go so far as to chuck a book at my head if he finds the selection particularly offensive, as was the case this morning.
After twenty minutes and three paper cuts to the face, I presented them with Corduroy and was finally rewarded with smiles. They climbed into my lap and I enjoyed five minutes of relative peace while I read. The story ended. They turned to me, and a single tear slid down my cheek as they signed “more.” So much for baby geniuses.