As parents, let’s face it, we just aren’t perfect. As I look back on my parenting life so far there are many things I wish I had or had not done. I wish I hadn’t lost my temper when it was totally silly to do so. Like, the time Blake decided he wanted goldfish for dinner and mommy wasn’t having it, so he threw a tantrum. And I pretty much threw one right along with him. You know, just to show him how silly he looked. Yeah, that’s it.
I wish I had more patience that-one-time. No, those 983 times that I really didn’t.
I wish I’d taken professional photos of my own kid when he was a newborn.
I wish I would’ve been more diligent about providing him with vegetables, despite him rejecting them, when he first started with solids. Because, boy, am I paying for that now. (Though he’s actually trying celery these days. AND he had sweet potatoes for dinner tonight! Seriously, people. THAT’S HUUUUUUUGE!)
I wish I’d waited breastfeeding out and not given up on it.
Aw, who am I kidding. That one’s a lie.
Anyway. There are 3 things I can say for absolute certainty that we have done right. Not bragging. Not tooting my own horn, but sometimes parenting gets discouraging. And then, there are these little bright lights throughout the day that are like a breath of fresh air. And I say to myself “Okay. May be I’m not as bad as I sometimes feel I am.”
These are my 3 personal mommy successes.
1. Sleep training.
2. Time Out.
3. Sign Language.
1. Blake has been sleep trained since 4 months. Since then he has completely slept through the night, except when he’s been sick. I’ll take some credit for that, but I’ll also say it’s been a blessing from God. The Lord knows I need my sleep! And since I didn’t get hardly any the first 4 months (Colic/GERD, milk/soy allergy), I take his current habits as a total blessing. He sleeps between 12-13 hours a night. LOVE THAT KID! (Yes, we did Cry It Out).
2. We started doing Time Out at around 11 months old. Some were very judgy toward me for starting so early. To each their own, right? Now that he’s almost 21 months (I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT!) he knows the expectations very clearly. Generally, he’s actually all around a very well behaved kid. Consistency is key, and he knows when he’s told something that the consequence is time out.
But, this post is really about #3.
We decided early on that we were going to teach Blake sign language. The moment I found out I was pregnant I purchased this book on Amazon.
If you’re going to do sign language, I recommend these very basic signs that have been MOST helpful:
Thank You/You’re Welcome (they are the same)
Eat. (I also used this for the word “snack”)
Soft. (He has a stuffed animal that we call Lamby, but that was much too difficult of a word for him to say, so since Lamby is “soft” we decided to allow him to use the sign for “soft” when he wanted his cuddle.)
Unfortunately, I was unable to find a good picture of this one, but here’s a short clip if you’d like to see it.
I’ve heard people tell me that they aren’t sure how to incorporate “thank you” because usually the kid has the item in their hand, and cannot use their hands to sign this. I would always make Blake say please for something, extend the item out to him as if I was giving it, then draw it back and make him sign it. Once he said it then I’d give it to him for good. I also always made sure to give the sign for “You’re Welcome” in return. Remember, they are the same sign. It’s also important to say the actual word so they are making the connection to spoken word. These days he will actually say the verbal word “please” when he signs. Thank You seems to be too confusing so he doesn’t even try! HA.
His daycare also teaches signing, so that’s been a good reinforcer. Since we do it so much at home, he’s really taken to it at school and in the past week I have learned 3 new signs from my own kid! When I was commenting on the rain one day he gave the sign for rain, and said “Iss rainin'”
Today we were doing a shape puzzle on the floor in his room and one of the shapes was a star. As he was putting the piece down I said “That’s a purple star.” And he did some weird thing pointing his fingers up in the air, saying “tar”. I wondered if he was signing star, so I Googled it to see. Yep.
As I was reading him a book on colors for bed….okay, nerd alert. In order to properly tell this I have to tell you it was a Star Wars book on colors. Ahem. So I got to the page on Darth Vader, which introduces black. I said, “Darth Vader wears BLACK.” And Blake says “back”, and does a sweeping finger motion across his forehead. Again, I had to Google this. And, yes, that means black.
My point in telling you this is not to brag on my child, (though it is pretty darn cool that I am learning from someone who is hardly 2!), but to make the point that he’s really tuned in to hand gestures for things. It’s prompted me to want to learn more now, just to help him learn. I think the visuals are awesome to learn vocabulary. Of course, as a teacher, I know visuals are always best.
Sign language has allowed us to communicate with Blake and to understand his needs, while cutting out the fuss and frustration of trying to understand him. We have dodged many meltdowns thanks to signing, I’m certain of it. We very rarely ever had a moment where he was trying to tell us something, and we just couldn’t figure it out.
If there are any particular signs you are curious about, this has been an awesome resource. Just type in the word and it will show you a short clip of the sign.
It’s totally okay to pat yourself on the back when you’re a parent and applaud yourself for doing something right. Celebrate those successful moments, and tell yourself “I did this right!”
What are some of your bragging rights?