It’s his best sign, because it’s his favorite word. His favorite person!
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.
Mary P. on our county homeschooling list just posted about a cool timeline game called Chronology. “Where does this card fit into the timeline? Place 10 events in order to win the game!”
Sounds fun! Thanks, Mary!
Google shows it at a bunch of sites—here’s one. Educational Learning Games
Wonderboy was sitting on my lap this morning when Rose tried to pick him up. He, being quite comfy at the moment, yowled at her and squirmed away.
She shrugged. “I know, I know,” she told him. “Mom’s your favorite character.”
Just a little recordkeeping here…
June 24, hospital outpatient clinic visit. Arrived at 1:15 for a 1:15 appointment. Taken to exam room at 3 p.m., saw doctor around 3:20. We adore this particular doctor and I know the long delay was not his fault. Just the nature of the outpatient clinic. I’m pretty sure the appointment times are established in a parallel dimension in which the laws governing the passage of time bear no connection to those in our own dimension. Just a theory. I could be mistaken.
July 5, different hospital, pediatric surgeon’s office. Arrived at 1 p.m. for 1:15 appointment. Was informed by jovial secretary that there had been an “oversight”—the doctor wouldn’t be in until 2. “Oversight” is, of course, a synonym for “really big scheduling mistake I, the secretary, made but would prefer not to cop to.” I know this because I heard her murmur the truth to another patient whom she seemed to know very well. We, being new patients at this practice, were not privy to the inner circle of truth regarding clerical screw-ups. As for the doctor “coming in at 2,” that translates to “entering the building at 2:25” in actual Earth time. But I’m sure he was on time according to the clock in that other dimension I was talking about.
July 12, back to the first hospital. Different doctor (also a guy we really like), different department. Neurosurgery this time. Arrived at 11:00 for an 11:00 appointment. Shown to exam room at 11:25, visited by doctor at 12:10.
During the past two months, I’ve racked up over a dozen hours of waiting time in various medical offices. Shouldn’t there be some kind of “frequent waiter” policy that earns you, say, a $20 deduction from the hospital bill for every X minutes spent in the waiting room? Ooh, and double points for wait time in the actual exam rooms, because it is so doggone hard to keep a toddler occupied in one of those tiny little semi-sterile spaces in which the most interesting objects are the sharps container and the biohazard wastebasket.
At the very least I think you should get a card that permits you to cut to the front of the line in the hospital cafeteria. And free pudding. Yeah.
A suggestion passed along by my friend Sarah B., quoted here with her permission:
“Anthony at teacher’s edition had a great idea for our timeline. We bought strips of brightly coloured paper which allowed us to make a comparative time line of ancient history for the different continents – yellow was Asia, Blue was Europe, Red was Africa etc which allowed us to see really clearly what was going on in the other continents when the pyramids were being build in Egypt, for example. It really helped clarify things for me because obviously we tend to learn in a linear way – Sumer then Egypt then Greece etc etc, but this really allowed us to see the way the whole world was developing at any given time.
“And it’s a lovely bright addition to our wall.”
Here’s a site that sells printable timeline figures—my kids love exploring the CD-rom, hunting for their heroes.
A while back I wrote about how Jane was unwittingly honing her spelling skills while crushing me at iSketch. This time it’s Rose, who will be seven in August. She wanted her own email account and has been gleefully firing off five or six notes a day to me, Scott, and Jane.
Dear Mommy I am more afraid of flies than lions.
She wants to do it all on her own: I mustn’t look over her shoulder. After a day or two, she disclosed to me her method for figuring out how to spell words she doesn’t know: she looks through books until she finds the word she wants.
“When I find it, I copy it down,” she explained.
I asked how long it takes her to find the words she wants. She isn’t using a dictionary for this; she is turning to her favorite novels and picture books.
She shrugged as if the question was hardly worth considering. “I just think of a story with the word in it and I find that page.”