I Taught My Daughter Baby Sign Language & It Went Horribly, Horribly Wrong

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baby sign language
Steve Debenport/iStock.com

I go to this "mommy and me” thing every week with my daughter. Not because it’s my kind of thing, but because my mother-in-law paid the membership for a year as “a Christmas gift” to my 1-year-old (aka she doesn’t think I am socializing her grandchild enough and this was her way of passive-aggressively correcting my parenting).

Anyways, we go to this thing every week for an hour and all the Pinterest moms are planning themed birthday parties and discussing screen time and sharing gluten-free recipes while their kids stare at each other.

  • But all these kids know sign language, and I thought that was pretty damn cool.

    So I start looking into this and try teaching my kid some basic signs for basic needs, and it’s working! Suddenly, my tiny human who otherwise could not effectively communicate with me knows how to say “more” and “all done” and “drink”! She can call me mom and my husband dad! Holy sh*t! Thanks Pinterest moms! I take back all the sh*t I talked about you to my kid on our weekly drives home.

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  • Well, today with my husband out of town, I didn’t feel much like cooking and since my daughter is pretty laid back at restaurants, I decided to go out for a quick dinner.

    The kid loves french fries and so do I. So we hit the local burger joint and I order a beer, a burger with fries, and a side of fruit. The server brings a little styrofoam cup with a lid and a straw filled with water for my daughter, and I set it out of her reach so she doesn’t Hulk smash the styrofoam and make a mess. So of course every time she wants some, she signs “drink." And every time she wants my attention, she signs “dad” because apparently the slightly different sign for “mom” isn’t as fun for her. Okay, whatever.

  • Well, I notice a couple tables away, there are a couple of women who are also signing to each other but they’re looking over at us and snickering.

    I’m like okay, I did like four quick Google searches, maybe I botched some of what I taught her. It’s fine. But then as the women are leaving, they stop by our table and one of them lays her iPhone down with a message typed out for me to read. It says something to the effect of “She’s calling you ‘dumb’ and telling you she wants to drink alcohol."

  • I’m like ... wait ... what?!

    So she continues to show me that I have in fact taught my daughter the wrong signs, that there are different signs for “drink (non-alcoholic beverage)” and “drink alcohol,” and by balling her first up instead of using a flat hand at her forehead, my daughter has been calling me dumb instead of dad, which was already wrong obviously since I am her mom.

    Please understand that the conversation that took place with the hearing-impaired women was totally lighthearted; they were not correcting our signing to be rude or in thinking that I was trying to teach my child proper American Sign Language. They thought my baby was cute and struck up conversation; it was funny and welcome!

    Also please note that I literally searched “baby sign language” and based the signs off of still frames from Google. I have no idea how close they were to the real signs. I can only imagine what the Pinterest moms would’ve done had I shown up next week with my kid asking to drink liquor!


    This post was written by Danielle and republished with permission.