Signing Stories

A Unicorn is a Cow-Horse (12 Months)

One day while we were shopping at a toy store Jessica turned to me with a very confused look on her face. She had been looking up at a very large unicorn stuffed animal. I asked her what she thought it was and she made the sign for “cow “and then hesitated and made the sign for “horse.” After a few moments she appeared to have come to a conclusion about this new animal and made the sign for “cow” immediately followed by the sign for “horse.”

Jessica’s Grandpa (14 Months)

Jessica’s Grandpa was and is one of her favorite people in the world. One night shortly after Jessica’s Grandpa had gone home, we were all sitting at the dinner table. Jessica was sad because her Grandpa had gone home. Suddenly her expression changed and with a brilliant smile Jessica signed “shoes” and then “car.” I responded by agreeing that I also liked shoes and cars, much to her disappointment. Quickly she added the sign for “go.” Now realizing that she wanted to put on her shoes and go somewhere in the car I asked her where she wanted to go. With a twinkle in her eye she signed “Grandpa.”

The Scared Bear in the Tree (15 Months)

I had just finished our nighttime routine and placed Jessica in her crib. As I was walking out of her bedroom, Jessica called to me “ba, ba” – this was my first given name by my daughter. I returned to her crib and saw that she was clearly upset.

She made the sign for “bear.” I was very surprised because her favorite stuffed animals were horses and she did not ever sleep with a bear. However, I was certain of the sign that she had made so I took the bear from her dresser and gave it to her. She threw the bear out of the crib and signed “bear” and then “scared.” So I asked her where the scared bear was and she signed “tree.” In response to my confused look she made the sign for her brother John. That was the final piece to the puzzle that I needed. I realized that she was talking about the bear that her and her brother had been playing with near the tree on the front lawn earlier in the day.

I told her that I understood, grabbed a flashlight and went outside to the tree in the front lawn. Sure enough, there was the little bear that Jessica had been playing with hanging upside down from a low branch on the tree and yes he did look rather scared. I returned to Jessica’s room and gave her the bear. As she snuggled the bear close to her and covered the bear with her blankets she signed “thank you” and “I love you.” Sometimes I think about this night and what would have happened if she had not been able to use her hands to tell me what was bothering her.

A Chihuahua is Not a Dog (15 Months)

It was Christmas and we were visiting our family for the holidays. Jessica was very pleased with her ability to recognize and label the difference between dogs and cats as these are two of her favorite animals. A friend of the family had brought her Chihuahua with her to our family gathering. As we entered the house, Jessica immediately spotted the dog, turned to me and made the sign for the word “cat.” I said that this animal did look very much like a cat (the size and the ears) but was in fact a dog and made the sign “dog.” Jessica looked at the dog again and then back to me and signed “cat” again with a very confident look on her face. It was very clear that she understood what I believed and chose to come to her own conclusion. During our entire visit she continued to sign “cat” whenever she referred to the Chihuahua.

Dancing Flowers (16 Months)

One cold and rainy afternoon Jessica and I sat at the window and watched as the rain poured down and the wind blew wildly. We had planned to go to the park that day and Jessica was insisting that we still go while I was explaining why we would not be going today. Suddenly she began to laugh and dance around the bedroom. I asked what was so funny and she signed “flower” and “dance.” I looked back out the window and noticed that the flowers were being blown in circles by the shifting of the wind. Yes, the flowers were dancing and so was my very pleased daughter.

Birds Wearing Hats (19 Months)

John and Jessica had been sitting in the family room reading books with me. Jessica wandered off towards the window. A few minutes later, Jessica came running back obviously excited and signed “hat.” This was one of her favorite words so I wasn’t surprised to see her making this sign. She was an expert at finding hats everywhere. John and I followed her to the window and began searching for a hat somewhere in the back yard. Finally, I asked her where the hat was and she signed “bird.” John began laughing and quickly pointed out that there were quails running along the back fence and each one had a feather on top of their heads that looked very much like a hat.