It Must Be a Sign

July 18, 2005 @ 7:45 am | Filed under: Sign Language, Special Needs Children, Speech Delay, Wonderboy

We had an explosion here last week. A language explosion—Wonderboy is suddenly bursting with new signs at the rate of three or four a day. It’s awesome. He has even put together his first sentence—and I warn you, it’s a heart-melter. Daddy love.

Jane’s baby book (the only one that has anything written in it—sorry, children numbers two, three, and four) contains dated lists of the words she was learning to speak. I collected them with the zeal a philatelist reserves for the rarest of stamps. I would have pressed each new word between tissue like a wildflower, if I could have. Witnessing a child’s determined quest for language is one for me of the best parts of motherhood.

And this time—oh, this time is the best yet. I’m sure my daughters will forgive my saying so, because they’re caught up in the spell too. Wonderboy’s hands shape meaning from air. Mommy, Daddy, baby, cracker, help, hungry, banana, more, sick, scared, let’s go, bye-bye, mine, hi, ball, uh-oh, jump, water, kiss, signing, bird, dog, please, finished…I’m sure I’m missing some. I can’t keep up.

Hand in hand (so to speak) with the emerging signs are new spoken words. Sure, so far they’re all variations on the same few sounds—eh eh (help), ah-ah (cracker), mah! mah! (more), MAH-meh (Amen)….We’re grateful for the ASL signs that help us translate his speech. More verbal speech will come. But he already speaks volumes with his grin and his fluttering hands.

This morning he seemed to be practicing all the words he knows, hands flying from one sign to another, talking to no one but himself, chuckling with satisfaction. It put me in mind of one of Rachel Coleman’s beautiful songs on the first Signing Time video.

Tell me that you love me,
Tell me that you’re thinking of me,
Tell me all about the things you’re thinking, both day and night.
Tell me that you’re happy
And you love it when we’re laughing,
Tell me more, oh tell me more,
Show me a sign….

I have raved about Signing Time here before, and I’m sure I’ll do it again. It’s hard for me to imagine our lives without Signing Time. Rachel Coleman, the creator, and her daughter Leah, who is deaf, and Leah’s cousin Alex, who is hearing, are practically part of our family. “Rachel says” and “Leah says” are regular utterances around here. When Wonderboy watches the videos, he looks back and forth from me to Rachel, or from his sisters to the children, in awed delight. His hands soar through the air, mimicking his beloved Rachel. He understands the spoken words “Signing Time” even without his hearing aids in. (This is significant. He probably hears something like “eye-ee-eye,” but he sure knows what it means.)

Rachel’s songs have become my personal highway belt-it-out favorites (along with Marie Bellet and Bruce Springsteen), because she *gets it* so completely. Leah was a year old when her parents learned she was deaf. Rachel’s family’s love and occupation is music, and my hat is off to Rachel Coleman for finding a way to so beautifully combine her old life with her new one. Next to the joy she has brought my children, my favorite thing about Rachel Coleman is her honesty in lyrics. Her song, “The Good,” expresses my understanding of motherhood better than anything I’ve ever written: “Maybe we won’t find easy, but baby we’ve found the good.” And the inspiring “Shine” on Volume 6, written with both Rachel’s children in mind (her younger daughter, Lucy, has spina bifida and CP), speaks frankly of the pangs that sometimes hit the heart of the parent of a special-needs child:

Sometimes I see you stuck
For such a long time
A daily nothing new
Pretend I don’t mind
With lists of things you’ll never do
Until somehow you do
And you do – you do – you shine

The days and months and years,
they run together
Is it just one day? Or is this forever?
You’ve taught me in your lifetime
More than I’d learned in mine
And you do, you do, you shine

Shine Shine Shine Shine Shine
Shine your light on me
Shine Shine Shine Shine Shine
everyone will see
Shine Shine Shine Shine Shine
I’m so glad you are mine

Oh how Rachel nails it! I’m so glad he is mine. Yes, maybe we haven’t found easy, but baby, we’ve found the good. And so very good it is. All the signs say so.

Related posts:
More about Signing Time
Rilla Signs
Unsolicited Signing Time Commercial
Signing with Babies, My Favorite Topic


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Comments

3 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. Wonderboy sounds like he is doing so well. I love it that he signed daddy love. That is too sweet.

    You’ve got a great family.

  2. Sounds like wonderboy is doing great! My son is signing up a storm, and talking too. And we really need to know the sign for uh-oh. I can’t find it anywhere. Maybe you’ll look back here and post it for me!

  3. This is so so sweet. May god bless your wonderful family.