Winning Over Skeptics! (Signing With Babies and Toddlers)
by Melissa W.
(Des Moines, Iowa, USA)
When we had our son Max almost three years ago, I already knew I wanted to use sign language with him. When he used his first sign at 9 months, I was ecstatic! But my husband and his parents were extremely skeptical. As Max gained a larger and larger sign vocabulary, my husband was won over, but his parents were still skeptics.
When Max was about 10 months, we were visiting my in-laws and Max was playing with my mother-in-law in the kitchen watching my father-in-law get ready to go outside. After he left, I walked into the room and my mother-in-law said, "What does this mean?" She knocked her fists together. "He did that right before Mike (my father-in-law) went outside."
I had an idea of what he probably signed so I said, "Well, what did Mike do right before he left?" She said, "He put on his boots." I said, "Max was signing 'shoes'. He was telling you that grandpa was putting on his shoes." She was amazed that someone so young could communicate so clearly!
Not long after that, as Max continued to communicate with our family using sign language, my father-in-law was eventually won over. In fact, another time we were visiting, my in-laws had some friends over. As they sat outside, some of their cats came walking up and Max signed, "cat." My in-laws' friend said, "What is he doing?" (with a tone that said, "That is BIZARRE.") With pride in his voice, my father-in-law said, "THAT's the sign for 'cat'." I had to laugh! And I tried really hard not to say, "I told you so!"
Now, three years later, my son has the vocabulary of someone twice his age, he could read the alphabet at 22 months, he's beginning to spell small words, and he's trying to teach his newborn sister some sign language!