Saturday, August 12, 2006

Baby talk, baby listen

I went with Hayley and Oliver to Tiny Talk today: the baby signing class. (Claire and her daughter Cara also came with us.) It gave me the chance to take part with Oliver in an activity he enjoys and which normally I wouldn't even get to see.

The class involves singing songs while making the relevant signs. Today's theme was Summer. So if you had wandered into the upstairs room at a little church in the middle of Withington, you'd have seen a 42 year old man with a bouncing 11 month old on his knee singing Cliff Richard's "Summer Holiday" and waving his hands around making strange signs. I loved it!

Oliver loved it too! In fact both Claire and Hayley commented on how he enjoyed it even more than ususal. "Showing off to his Daddy", they flattered. He squealed with delight at times and laughed when I tipped him head first off my knee for "All the little ducks go upside-down".

He received a certificate in the class for his first sign, "milk", which he made aged 9 months. Well that's what the certificate said. We reckon he probably did first make the sign then, but when we offered him milk he didn't always want it: he was just responding to us saying "milk"! However, more recently we have avoided mentioning milk and just waited for him to ask for it with the sign. He does this now and drinks the milk when we give it to him.

The first time I saw him do it was actually one night when I put him to bed and he asked for more milk, which was quite unusual. Perhaps he just wanted to stay up a few more minutes.

He also does a sign for "finished" when he has had enough food or milk. The sign is to place your hands on top of each other and move them apart sideways indicating "no more". I don't think we can have done it too clearly though as his version of the sign involves pointing at the palm of one hand with the first finger of the other. However, he does it consistently and pretty reliably. (Occasionally he might decide to have one more spoonful of yoghurt.)

He has also developed another sign of his own. He hasn't mastered lying on his back from a sitting position, so when he wants to lie back in the bath he sits upright and tilts his head back so his face is looking up at the roof. Sometimes he will be happily sitting in the bath playing with his ducks or the sponge when I say "do you want to lie back" and he will quickly stop what he is doing and tilt his head back ready for action. He still loves lying on his back splashing about with his arms and legs.

One new part of his bathtime ritual is the way I get him out. I stand him up in the bath facing me with my arms under his arms steadying him. Then I start to count slowly. "One..." - he looks excited as he recognises what is coming. "Two...." he looks across at his Mummy to make sure she is watching what is about to happen. "Three!!!!" I lift him high out of the bath as he opens his mouth wide with excitement, all the time looking to make sure Mummy is watching, before I lay him down on his towel to get dried. It has become a little highlight of the day for all three of us.