Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Baby Sign Language

I've tried signing with Baby Max since he was...a baby. Now, he's almost one, and he's signing back. He's signed "more" a few times. Recently, Garrett had him at the grocery store during bottle time and Max began insistently signing "milk." Unfortunately, G knew what he wanted but had forgotten to pack it. "Uh-oh" as Max likes to say.

This month we've attended two classes for Baby Sign Language. The instructor must be a saint. She calmly chatters away about signing and assigns homework while toddlers and crawlers steal the show. When things get a little out of hand, she blows bubbles or breaks into a signing song.

I can tell that Max is more receptive to signing since we've attended the class.

But the real reason to attend is the kids are hilarious. For many, this is the first real interaction they have with other little ones. I wonder how much of their personalities and reactions predict how they will be later in life.

During class, Max explores and "visits" momentarily with other children and adults in the room. Usually while missing a shoe or sock. He begins fully dressed, but as the minutes tick by he loses one shoe and one sock at a time. (The instructor actually taught us the sign for "shoe" just because of Max!) I threatened to bring him naked next time. It would save me time and laundry.

G attended this week's class with me, and he thought it was hilarious as I did. He also shared my concern that we may be too relaxed. Is it bad when your kid falls down--yet again--and all of the other parents gasp while you laugh? It's not like Max cries or anything, though. We're so accustomed to him falling into things that it's not something we get worried about anymore. If he cries, we know he's really hurt. Mostly, a tumble doesn't phase him in his journies. And he does journey.

He is incredibly easy-going. One of the little boys took a rattle that Max was playing with. It was in the center of the room, so many of us saw it and wondered what was going to happen. Instead of getting upset, Max laughed at the older boy. He tried to reach the rattle, but the other little boy was bigger and held it over his head. It made me fear the future and a bully taking something from him on the playground. I muttered, "Get him." Garrett reacted similarly. But Max just laughed. Another, smaller, little boy decided he wanted the rattle and rammed into the big kid, knocking him over and taking the rattle. Max laughed at the two boys on the ground and went off to explore some more. The parents of the big kid made the older boy give Max the rattle. Max looked at them all like they were crazy for interrupting his exploration and took off again.

In the end, I actually felt sorry for the bigger kid. He was the only one upset with the whole thing. Plus, he was a sweet little boy. He's the only one I saw going around the room trying to hug other kids and pet their hair. Max thought he was pretty cool. After watching the big boy pet another kid's head, Max imitated him.

Ah, the influence of peers already!

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