I find myself humbled by karma alot as a mother. There are so many ill-informed judgments I made before I had children that I find myself on the receiving end of now. Apologies universe I had no idea what parenting was really like. For example my dad recently expressed dismay that I had "taught Riley these weird hand signals." He went on to explain that "it would be better if I just taught her to talk."
Thanks, Dad. First of all those "weird hand signals" are American Sign Language. I didn't instruct my toddler to conduct Mozart, coach softball or land fighter jets. Secondly, I am teaching her to talk. It is my first priority (at least until potty training gets more serious). I need her to be able to tell me, or any adult, what she needs that is why I taught her a few signs.
As Miss Roo crept closer to her first birthday a disturbing pattern of screeching at Mommy emerged, especially when she was hungry. At which point I taught Riley the signs for more and eat. That helped my ear drums and stress level immensely. When she was old enough to eat all her meals in a high chair she started screaming to be let out (or later throwing food) when she was done. I decided then it was time to teach her the sign for all done.
At this point she does more, eat, all done and sometimes please. That's 4 signs I see on a regular basis. Do you want to guess how many words I hear everyday? Mama, Dada, Shooz (shoe), Peezz (please), Out, Baah (Boom), Bruder (brother), Bath, Yes, No etc We're probably talking at least 10 words I hear daily not counting copious animal noises. When you start talking about words I used to hear all the time, but don't anymore there's Hair, Duck, Ho (Hold), Help, Pretty, Good etc. There's also things I've heard once or twice in proper context and then never again like Clock, Wipes, Mad, Gasses (Glasses), etc. Riley's vocabulary is pretty good for someone her age and more important than that her cognitive abilities blow my mind.
You can say "Riley, go get your pink shoes please." and she'll bring you want you requested. If I say "Do you want to go take a bath?" she walks to the bathroom. If I ask "where's Dada?" she knocks on our bedroom door. It's so amazing how quickly the human brain becomes aware. It's so much quicker than the ability to speak develops fully.
So, to my former single judey wudey self, my dad and the rest of the folks who have disdain for baby signs wait until you have a toddler red faced and shirking for 5min on end and your every attempt to appease them fails and then tell me what you think. In the end parenting is all about what works for you and your little one and this works wonders for Riley and I. It makes fussy periods shorter because we have to guess less. It helps babysitters who are less familiar with her routine. It shows her how much easier life is when she can communicate (which encourages her to talk). I've even had her sign and speak a word at the same time. Perhaps the most important thing to me is that it's an early introduction to manners. I love polite children.
At this point more has become the sign for all occasions. When she's hungry, wants you to read the book again, wants to go higher on the swing or needs more tickles. I'm trying to teach her new signs so she can answer when I say "more what, Riley?". I'm trying to tech her milk, juice, play and outside. We'll see how it goes. Sometimes I'll ask her while signing if she wants more and she'll answer with the word and no sign.
No worries, talking is not an issue for Miss Roo. I'm sure I'll miss this stage, soon when she communicates in full sentences and every declaration isn't a surprise. I love hearing her voice, but more than that I love that there are fewer tears when she can just tell me what she wants one way or another.