She’s a wise one, Lady P. We know this because sometimes she looks very thoughtful. She also has a cracking sense of humour, and squeals and laughs a lot. But because she can’t actually speak, we don’t know what’s on her mind.
So we thought we’d teach her baby sign language. This is also useful for communicating basic needs. Apparently at this stage of her development (coming up for nine months) Lady P does understand some frequently used words, and has the motor skills to sign, so baby sign language is just a way of putting those capabilities together.
I printed off a couple of sheets of signs from the interweb. And then the questions started to arise.
First of all, why is ‘frog’ such an important sign that it features in this selection of basics? Or ‘horse’ for that matter? Or 'Telephone'? Is she going to want to make a call?!
Secondly, why am I teaching Lady P the sign for ‘too hot’ and ‘don’t touch’? If she understands my saying those words to her, what’s the point of the sign? Surely it isn’t so that she can tell me that something is too hot or I shouldn’t touch it? Who is the baby here?
And finally, why am I teaching her the words for ‘milk’ or ‘more’ at all? She is gaining weight at an alarming weight – to the extent that the Health Visitor suggest we cut back her rations a bit. And when she wants more food she makes that known plainly by grunting angrily and opening her mouth exaggeratedly wide open.
If only Lady P could speak. She’s so smart she could probably explain it all. But for now she’s limited to grunting, squealing and giggling. I think it may stay that way for a while.