Children have an incredible capacity for learning, so it makes sense for them to start early. This applies especially to languages; what would be a hell of a struggle for an adult comes just so much easier for a baby and their sponge-like brains.
Image credits: Alena Ozerova (not the actual photo)
This mom, posting on the subreddit r/tifu, (Today I F****d Up) described her experience of teaching a little sign language to her baby girl, inspired by the ‘Pinterest Moms’ of a local parenting group.
“I go to this ‘mommy and me’ thing every week with my daughter,” she wrote. “Not because it’s my kind of thing, but because my mother-in-law paid the membership for a year as a ‘Christmas gift’ to my one-year-old (AKA she doesn’t think I am socializing her grandchild enough and this was her way of passive-aggressively correcting my parenting).”
“Anyways, we go to this thing every week for an hour and all the Pinterest moms are planning themed birthday parties and discussing screen time and sharing gluten free recipes while their kids stare at each other. But all these kids know sign language, and I thought that was pretty damn cool. So I start looking into this and try teaching my kid some basic signs for basic needs, and it’s working! Suddenly, my tiny human who otherwise could not effectively communicate with me knows how to say “more” and “all done” and “drink”! She can call me mom and my husband, dad! Holy s**t! Thanks, Pinterest moms! I take back all the s**t I talked about you to my kid on our weekly drives home.”
“Well today with my husband out of town, I didn’t feel much like cooking and since my daughter is pretty laid back at restaurants I decided to go out for a quick dinner. The kid loves French fries and so do I. So we hit the local burger joint and I order a beer, a burger with fries, and a side of fruit. The server brings a little Styrofoam cup with a lid and a straw filled with water for my daughter, and I set it out of her reach so she doesn’t hulk smash the Styrofoam and make a mess. So, of course, every time she wants some, she signs “drink”. And every time she wants my attention, she signs “dad” because apparently, the slightly different sign for “mom” isn’t as fun for her. Ok, whatever.”
“Well I notice a couple tables away, there are a couple of women who are also signing to each other but they’re looking over at us and snickering. I’m like okay, I did like 4 quick google searches, maybe I botched some of what I taught her. It’s fine. But then as the women are leaving, they stop by our table and one of them lays her iPhone down with a message typed out for me to read. It says something to the effect of “she’s calling you ‘dumb’ and telling you she wants to drink alcohol”.
“I’m like… wait… what? So she continues to show me that I have in fact taught my daughter the wrong signs, that there are different signs for “drink (non-alcoholic beverage)” and “drink alcohol” and by balling her first up instead of using a flat hand at her forehead, my daughter has been calling me dumb instead of dad which was already wrong obviously since I am her mom. I can only imagine what the Pinterest moms would’ve done had I shown up next week with my kid asking to drink liquor.”
Image credits: WAYHOME studio (not the actual photo)
The amusing tale proved a hit with other Reddit users, who went on to describe their own stories of kids misspeaking. Some people questioned the need to teach sign language to a baby, did she have any problems with development of speech? “This happened 4 years ago when my now 5-year-old was 12 months old. She speaks English well, for all of you who were concerned for her development,” she explained. “She is not deaf or mute, she was just a 12-month-old who knew what she wanted but was at an age where awareness of wants/needs and developmental capabilities of verbal communication did not meet. Most babies will just babble or even use a single word or two (typically mama or dada) intentionally as early as 6 months, but most kids at 12 months old can only say 1-3 words. She knew she was thirsty and would like a drink, but could not yet say ‘hey mom, please give me my cup.’ However, sign language can be very quickly learned by children as young as 6-9 months old. This helps break a language barrier and can really help foster communication right away. AKA less screaming babies and more sane parents. Disclaimer: I’m just a mom of two kids, not a child development professional by any means!”
Here’s what people had to say about the funny story