She may still be using them only one at a time, and Shrike and I may be the only ones who can understand the vast majority of them, but I just tallied up (what I can remember of) the new words that Peeper started using during our trip and it seems that on my “official” list, she now has more spoken words than signs.
Yesterday, as I was putting Peeper in the car to go to the grocery store, I noticed some skydivers overhead. (There’s a small airport near us, and we see them all the time. It never gets any less cool.)
I pointed them out to her, saying, “Look, honey – parachutes!”
She kept pointing at the sky and signing “more.”
I was saying “I’m sorry, that’s all there are,” when I realized, Wait a minute. She’s cleaned up her “more” and it doesn’t look like that anymore. Oh, and there’s the new “more,” and . . . shoes?
*more* *shoes* *points*
What is she talking about?
*more* *shoes* *points*
*more* *shoes* *points*
Sh. . . – oh.
Evidently, to the not-quite-twenty-two-month-old ear, Parachute = Pair o’ Shoes.
Technically, I gave Peeper “credit” for signing both “please” and “thank you” a little more than a couple of weeks ago – before she turned eighteen months old – but in the past week or so, she’s really started using them a lot, even spontaneously.
I’m pretty sure she thinks that “please” is a magic sign that makes us do whatever she wants (much like “more” was when she first started signing) because she will not only tack it onto a request, but will sometimes just sign it all by itself.
I’m trying to be careful, when she’s signing or saying what she wants, to prompt her to sign please by saying “Goody, please” or “Outside, please” rather than just “Say please” – or, as I had gotten in the habit of saying when she was trying to pull my shirt up, “Sign it, please,” – so that she doesn’t think it’s a substitute for all those other words and signs!
I have noticed that, more and more, she’s pulling at my shirt and signing please, rather than signing “milk,” so I’m trying to remember to say “Sign ‘goody, please'” and waiting to see the “milk” sign.
She’s also using “thank you” quite consistently when prompted – either “Tell the lady ‘thank you'” or if we tell her “thank you,” or even if she hears us tell someone else “thank you.”
I think I’ve seen her spontaneously sign “thank you” a couple of times, but it’s hard to be sure, because it’s a pretty sloppy sign. (Well, most of them are, to be honest.)
The actual sign is a flat hand, touching the fingertips to the chin, and then moving down in an arc.
She skips the whole chin and arc thing, and just holds her arm and hand out in the ending position. It looks sort of like a one-handed shrug, or as if she expects you to put something in her hand. But we know what it means.
Please is supposed to be an open hand moving in a circle on the chest, but she just draws a line across her chest. Sometimes she does it with both hands at once.
I guess that means “pretty please, with sugar on top.”
So, what do you make of this?
This evening, Peeper was nursing, and more than once, she stopped and signed “stinky.”
So I asked her (somewhat rhetorically, but hey, ya never know) to clarify.
“What’s stinky? Is your diaper stinky?”
(She’s actually not too bad about telling us when it is.)
“Is my breath stinky?”
(Yeah, she tells us that, too. Especially in the morning.)
She stopped, looked at me, signed “milk” and then “stinky.”
“Are my goodies stinky?!?” I asked.
Then I remembered that, despite having washed them, my hands – one of which was supporting the breast from which she was nursing – were still pretty stinky, from a dish sponge I’d been using a little while before.
(Yes, the sponge went right in to the dishwasher with that load of dishes. I’m sure it smells much better now.)
So, I can certainly see how she would have the impression that my breast itself was stinky.
And I’m pretty sure she signed a sentence to tell me so.
Great. I can just hear it now:
“Hey, Mama, what was my first sentence?”
“Oh, you told me my boobs stink.”
Several times, Peeper has signed “stinky” for no obvious reason – and then we’ve discovered that she’s got a dirty diaper.
I’ve started checking her pants whenever I see her signing it, and there’s often something there.
Updated 2:35 am: Video added
This evening, Peeper stayed with Eena and Papa while Mommy and Mama went to Lowe’s and bought a Christmas tree.
This is the first time since, oh gosh, sometime in the Summer? that Peeper’s stayed with someone other than us, and it seems to have gone very well.
We called to check in three times. No, we called twice to check, primarily to find out if we had time to a> play around a bit a Lowe’s, looking at Christmas decorations and b> stop for a bite to eat. Then we called before we left Arby’s to see if they wanted us to bring anything home for them.
(Her dad asked for a jamocha shake. Quite a bargain a couple of hours of babysitting.)
They said that she did really well, and enjoyed herself the whole time. Shrike says she didn’t hear any crying over the phone, so they must be telling the truth.
Since that went well, and since she’s done well staying home with Mommy while I go places, I think we might even plan ourselves a date night before too long!
By the time we got back to pick her up, she was definitely ready for a nap. She fell asleep in the car and woke up when we came in, but I got her back down.
While she was sleeping, Shrike and I worked very quickly . . . .
The tree. We’re going with the lights-only look again this year. The ornaments will return next year.
All lit up . . .
and protected from little hands – and mouths.
She thinks it’s quite interesting, but isn’t so keen on that fence around it!
This little girl is exactly a month younger than Peeper, but they are exactly the same gestational age.
The actually played fairly well “together,” although they did take toys away from each other, and pat each other’s heads and faces a bit roughly at times. No tears, though, so I consider that a success!
Or maybe she thinks she’s signing “baby” or “cat” or “breakable item?”
I use that word all the time, when she’s petting animals (or cousins) or well, doing anything that she should do gently.
I have, in the past, signed it, either myself or “onto” her.
(It’s a finger stroking the other arm gently. I usually stroke her arm, so she can feel what “gentle” should feel like.)
I don’t know that I’ve actually signed it very much recently, but a couple of days ago, she was petting the cats, and I was telling her to be gentle, and she started rubbing the back of one arm/hand with the other.
(Not gently at all.)
There are a lot of baby signers here at the conference, and when I’ve recounted that story, several different people have told me that their kids would use signs that they’d not seen in quite a while, too.
It is definitely a sign of some sort (whether or not she actually means “gentle”) because she’s done it repeatedly, and in exactly the same way.
She has used it “in reference to” other babies (lots and lots and lots of other babies here to see and sign about!), so I’m not exactly she what she means by that.
However, she also signed it when this little girl patted her on the head, or was checking out her hair or something. (And it was just a pat, she was not hitting her.)
Maybe she was just saying “Hey, there’s a baby!” but I like to think she was saying, “Hey, easy there, kid, that’s my head!”
She also signed it one time while I was in the middle of getting her in the wrap. Coincidence, or was she telling me that I was handling her too roughly?
(The last little part of the process does pretty much require snapping her legs off at the knee, then sticking them back on.)
This signing this is really taking off. I can’t wait to see what she learns next!