We never got sucked into the whole “Teach Your Baby to Sign” craze. Mostly, I refrained for selfish reasons. I like listening to toddlers butcher the English language. I am amused when I hear a tiny girl sporting freshly grown pigtails screaming what sounds like filthy obscenities in the middle of Home Goods. Why? Well, because I know that she’s saying “NO PUSHY!” but the two horrified old ladies who were just admiring her beauty thought she was screaming, “NO PUSSY!” Call me immature, but that was a bright spot in an otherwise lackluster day. Plus, I’ve found that a toddler shouting what sounds like the most vulgar of words serves a dual purpose. Besides making me chuckle, it effectively clears the aisles of annoying old ladies who otherwise feel entitled to bump you with their carts or unabashedly rip a fart while refusing to move a 1/2 inch to the right, thus blocking my passage.
The other reason that I never jumped on the “Teach Your Baby to Sign” bandwagon is purely the result of an interaction I had with an annoying woman who lived in our Boston neighborhood.
One afternoon Joe and I were out for a walk, he couldn’t have been much more than 18 months old, when we were stopped by that nosey old coot who I’ll call Beulah. “Oh, well isn’t he just precious,” Beulah cooed. We continued with some lame small talk and then Beulah asked, “Does he use sign language? Because so and so’s baby does sign language.” I politely explained that Joe did not use sign language because Joe could speak. “Well,” she sniffed, “so and so’s baby is very smart” except that she pronounced it smaht. Beulah then had the nerve to cast a pity-filled, forlorn grimace at my toddler as if he was the new neighborhood idiot.
For some odd reason, I suddenly found myself embarking on a mission to make this particular Beulah understand that our son wasn’t stupid, we simply didn’t feel it necessary to teach him sign language when he was perfectly capable of speaking. No matter what I said, she couldn’t seem to grasp the concept of learning to talk using your mouth. Beulah scoffed at the fact that we were teaching him to speak…using his voice and some words. She simply refused to believe that my child could possibly lead a productive life without first knowing how to sign the word “milk”.
My neglectful parenting just didn’t sit well with Beulah. All of the smaht neighborhood children were signing, you know. After engaging in this circular (idiotic) argument for approximately five minutes too long, I realized that I was having a conversation with a tactless moron. Of course, being me, I bid her a curt farewell and wondered if she understood the universal sign for ‘fuck you’, but I refrained from using it. Besides, I had to hurry home and teach Joe how to say grapes in Spanish with our new Baby Einstein flash cards. Las Uvas…
Have you ever had a run in with a Beulah? Click here to find out what a Beulah is.