As usual, I went to pick the 4-year-old up from preschool; my huge baby perched snugly on my hip. A woman I know only through facial recognition asked if I was planning on teaching him how to sign? WHAT? I mean, I know some parents who’ve introduced sign language to their babies before, but is this an actual “thing” now? Is it just the norm to have your baby trained in the art of sign language?
Well, not for me. I happen to have a pretty good understanding of my baby’s needs and wants. Besides the fact that we have a relatively tight schedule, he makes his demands perfectly clear without the gestures associated with sign language. And let’s also remember that I don’t know sign language, so the idea that I’m going to learn sign language, just to teach my baby sign language, is quite insane. Oh yeah, in my spare time I think I’ll pick up a whole other language to learn, sure… why don’t I start learning Portuguese as well. Sounds simple enough. Um, NO. Hell no.
Consequently, it’s not like everyone else is going to know sign language either. Is my baby going to be able to communicate with Grandma using sign language? Or his daddy? Or his brothers? So I’m supposed to learn sign language, teach it to the baby, and teach it to everyone else too? Really? I recently taught my 91-year-old grandmother how to use Facebook so… I think I’ll pass on becoming a sign language instructor for the whole family just so my 11-month-old can tell me he wants to be picked up.
Instead, I’m going to start teaching the baby gestures he’s going to use for the rest of his life. Motions that will come in handy for the future. Indications that are universal. EVERYONE will know these bad boys. His intent will be clear, his purpose, unyielding. With these under his belt he can easily be a man of few words, and then he’ll learn words, and he’ll gesture appropriately and I’ll know my work here was worth it.
1. The Finger. Ah, the universal sign for “Fuck You”! If he’s anything like his mama, he’ll use this one in spades.
2. The Bite Me. A nice crotch grab goes a long way. Pro-tip: Also works wonders if you’re impersonating Michael Jackson.
3. The Hang Ten. Huge in Hawaiian culture as the Shaka sign; consists of extending the thumb and little finger upward. The ability to hang loose is a good life lesson. I need to remember this one when I’m starting to stress out.
4. The World’s Smallest Violin. This gesture is made by rubbing the thumb and forefinger together, to imitate bowing a violin. Its mission is sarcasm and we use a lot of that shit around here. Welcome to the family.
5. The Thumbs Up. The cool thing about the thumbs up is that it is used universally, by doctors, truckers, scuba divers. The thumbs up knows not who you are. It’s the universal sign for good!
6. The A-Ok. Much like the thumbs up, the a-okay tells everyone you are fine, better than fine.
7. The Cuckoo sign. We’ve all done it. Someone starts talking crazy and you take your index finger, point it to your temple, and make a circular motion. I’m sure he’ll use this gesture to his father while talking about me behind my back.
8. The Blah-Blah-Blah. When you make your hand seem as if it’s your old boss, talking excessively about something you don’t care to hear about. Yes, the Blah-Blah-Blah must be mastered to live here.
9. Loser. Using the index finger and thumb on your right hand, make the L shape and place it on your forehead. Beck made it famous, we keep it real.
10. The Talk to the Hand. My 4-year-old has already mastered this one. He’ll probably teach the baby himself.
Related post: Baby Talk, Decoded