Thursday, May 24

Comparable and Corresponding

Before he could speak, Andrew signed. First it was just the few trendy words that everyone who was anyone was teaching their babies. Signs for 'more', 'drink', 'cookie' ,'please' and 'thank you' were the first to enter his vocabulary. But as it became apparent that his spoken language was not developing according to the norm I stepped up the education in signing. I bought books and videos, attended classes and spent time at the sign language sites online. His abilities grew exponentially and soon he was saying/signing dozens of words and phrases. For my part, my signing vocabulary, a step ahead of his included hundreds of signs. Mostly nouns, to help him assign names to the things he saw, but also the adjectives and the verbs so he could also tell us the hilarities of his life, like when he farted! Around here the only thing better than doing it is being able to say you did it. My eldest at this age, (also a boy) used to say "pardon my bum" after he passed a little wind, which just cracked him up royally. Andrew's pattern would be the sign for fart and then the sign for surprise followed by a loud giggle. Oh, boys!

Once language arrived, the signs slowly were replaced with words. One by one the signs dropped away as speech emerged. The best part of his developing skills was his hilarious insistence on speaking in the opposite. For a time we called him Antonym Andrew because no matter what was said, his retort would be the reverse. I must mention, he acquired this ability on his own, as no one ever trained him in the lingo of contrariness, well, not on purpose anyway.

We noticed the propensity beginning with this conversation with his sister one Saturday morning. Big brother Ian was playing a game on the PlayStation; Emma was lounging on the couch. Andrew was sitting alongside Ian in front of the television with the second PlayStation controller in his lap. It was becoming painfully obvious to him that his controls were not working properly. Indeed, they were not even plugged in.

Andrew turned to Emma and said, "Take it on".

She patiently explained "Andrew you don't say 'take it on', that doesn't make sense. You can say 'take it off' or you could say 'put it on'."

To which he replied "Put it off".

And thus we launched into the phase of language development wherein he said it his own way, thank you very much.

If we said "pick it up" he said "pick it down";

If we said "take this out" he said "take this in";

If we said "put it in" he said "put it out".

The ultimate triumph in his contradictory speech came the day he shadowed his sister as she walked up the stairs to the second floor of our home. She was quietly singing a Bob Marley tune (could I be any prouder?) as she mounted the steps.

"get up, stand up..." she sang as she climbed.

And on her tail, without missing a beat in the rhythm, Andrew intoned behind her,

"get down, sit down..."

I fell over laughing. Or did I stand there crying?
Who really could say?


  1. Every time my daughter lifts up her hands over her head and pleads "Hold YOU!" I just melt. You're right that is a language acquisition process. I think your little man is past that and now downright witty.

  2. That's great.

    get down, sit down!

  3. That's a sweet story. How old is Andrew now?

    My little granddaughter (the I uff oo girl) used to sign when she was tiny. She was about one and a half and I gave her a little piece of candy out of my purse. A tiny piece that I bit off of another piece. When it was gone, she came back to me, stared right into my purse and signed, "more."

    Now who in the world could resist that?

  4. SMID-
    I know! I have told you before, there are some language mistakes that I am loathe to correct and I miss them so when they are gone. Andrew still says "carry you?" as he lifts up his hands to me pleading to be picked up. Well, I should say he did, up until recently when the full sentence "will you carry me?" came out. Waaagh! We've worked so hard for language acquisition with him, but I am having a hard time celebrating the loss of some of the cuteness!

    Andrew just had his fourth birthday a couple of weeks ago. It's hard to believe, but it's true. Another waaaaagh!
    And, yes a signing baby is nearly irresistable. Almost as much so as the 2 year old speaking "I uff ooo"!

    Shelby & Jenn-
    Yeah, he's a precious and great boy!

  5. Oh my gosh, Jenn! That's so stinkin' cute! I wish I'd gotten my kids into the signing thing. It would have been so smart.

    "Get down, sit down." That is positively how I will sing it from now on. Hahahahah! How funny that he came up with all of that!

  6. Btill-
    He's a pretty silly kid. I guess that's what you get when you get one of them bonus packages!
    And signing is really nifty. I totally recommend it. I really think it got us through the tough times of the verbal/cognitive communication lapse. When they know what they want, but don't have words to say it yet. Maybe the tantrums of TWO are fewer? Maybe not, but like cat teri said above, it is completely irresistible when a baby is asking for something in sign!

  7. I've been fascinated by the baby signing development. Good to hear that it worked out well with you. Now if only I could teach my dog to sign... Oh, well, probably in fifty years or so, someone will come up with something along that line.

  8. My oldest boy would say, "Hold you?" when he wanted me to pick him up. I am assuming that is because I would say, "Do you want me to hold you?"

    And my daughter would call gloves, "glugs." Just as bold as life, "Mom,will you put my glugs on me?" We still call them that.

    And when we would stop for a hamburger at Burger King, Brady, from his carseat would holler with all the passion he could muster, in his gruff little Nick Nolte voice, "Who wants my poonato?" (meaning tomato, in case that was not clear)

  9. Andrew sounds like a fun boy who will keep you on your toes. My girls will do this once in part of some game they've invented.

  10. What a cute story--aren't you glad you're writing these things down??

  11. Julia-
    Welcome new friend! Yes, I really did love the signing phase and I am actually sad that it has gone the way of all things baby.
    Thanks for stopping to comment.

    Those are such great word memories of little ones. We too have held onto some pronunciations around here just cuz we can't let them all go. Like MAKKIN for napkin. That was one of my oldest boy's many funny pronunciations.
    Current favorite phrase from Andrew is "mom, can I tell you a question?"

    You are right, Andrew is a boy who keeps me laughing. It's either that or tearing my hair out. Sometimes both simultaneously!

    blogging is the best journal invention ever! E.V.E.R.