Sign Language

I’ve heard a theory that parents can learn sign language. In fact, that it’s easier for them than spoken words. Seeing as I’ve had almost no luck teaching them to speak or understand proper words, I decided to give it a shot.

The trickiest part, so far, has been deciding what signs to teach them. I need to cover all the important concepts, but the parents aren’t smart enough to handle many new things at once. I decided to start with a few simple signs that even a parent should comprehend.

One concept the parents have trouble with is knowing when I’m summoning them. To address this deficiency I created a simple gesture where I extend one hand and turn it so the palm is upward. I’ve been combining this with words as well, in the hopes they’ll get the connection, and also because sometimes they aren’t looking at me, if you can imagine such a thing. If they do not respond immediately, I open and close my fingers to indicate urgency.

Once they have been summoned, I need to convey additional information. For example, if they are to pick me up, I will extend both hands upwards. They’re a bit slow on this one, so I am often forced to grab their hands and pull before they get the message. Still, I think they’re making progress.

If I require food, I make an opening and closing motion with my mouth. Conveniently enough, this makes a popping noise which can be useful for getting the parents’ attention, though it occasionally inspires them to mimic the sign. It can be hard to get them focused again after that.

If I want a toy that is out of my reach, I make a sign by extending my hand towards it and making a gripping motion. The parents are still a bit slow on this, and I am often reduced to getting the toy for myself. Even when they do notice the sign, they have a bad habit of retrieving the wrong toy. I have created a sign for this as well, where I place the toy in my hand and then wave my arm back and forth rapidly, releasing the toy at some point. Then I have to start from the beginning.

The final sign I’ve been trying to teach the parents is when I wish to be placed in my crib. At first I tried placing the back of my hand to my eyelids, but I think that was too subtle for them. Recently I’ve taken to adding an additional sign that they cannot ignore. I will extend both arms to the side and wave them rapidly all around. Time will tell if that’s still too subtle.

Have any of you babies out there tried sign-language with your parents? What signs did you use, and how successful were your parents at picking them up?

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