Another striking InterWeb confession: I used sign-language with my child.

Yes... I am that mother.

Frankly, I don't care what you do with your kid. I don't care if you teach him Spanish. I don't care if you only speak to him in French and your husband only speaks in Portuguese and both of you only use English when speaking with others in the community (and yes, I knew a family who did this). I don't care if you only teach your kid to communicate in grunts and gestures until he's seven.

For me sign language made sense. See, I'm a therapist and I've seen how many of my learning disabled clients in the past were able to communicate better once they were given some way to communicate that didn't involve the complicated musculature and higher learning processes of speech. Plus, I had to learn all that crap in college, so using it with my kid amortized the cost of my tuition across a broader scale.

When my seven month old who could only at that time say "ca-ca" - which we assumed (read: hoped) meant "cracker" - was screaming in frustration and I lacked the motherhood gene that gave me the ability to interpret which cry meant what, I taught her a couple of easy signs to help me out.

She learned "more" which eventually meant all food for her. She learned "water". That was pretty much it at first. And surprise, surprise, when she was hungry or thirsty instead of screaming her bloody head off because stupid mom couldn't figure out that the high-pitched "waaah" that goes up at the end means 'it's time to eat' and the histrionic "waaah" that has the same intensity throughout means 'I need a change', she signed the sign she wanted and my husband and I immediately knew what she wanted. I admit it was more out of laziness on our part than anything else. No guessing, no wondering... heaven.

She did not learn to speak any later because she relied on signs instead of words. (And given that at three now, she Never. Stops. Talking. That might have actually been nice. I'm just sayin'.) And I don't really believe she learned to speak any faster than she would have without the sign language. It simply made that time before she had the ability to speak a katrillion times easier on all of us. So sue me.

After having it drilled into my skull like a trepanation for the first three years of my child's life, I've come to understand that there's no one perfect way to parent a child. There's no be-all and end-all, hundred percent right parenting choice and people who try to tell you that x, y and z is the only way to do it, THOSE are the people you should worry about the most.

Now that my daughter no longer needs to use sign language to communicate, I still use it with her occasionally. These days, I'm hoping to get a couple of seconds of eye contact from this poster-child-for-ADD who can't hold her head still long enough to meet my gaze when I'm trying to talk to her. I figure she has to look at me to see the signs I'm using. It also makes for really good communication at church when I need to yell at her, but I'm also trying to teach her to be reverent. "Come here and sit down now!" in sign language disturbs the congregation much less than when I do that mom-whisper thing that actually rates 60 decibels higher than if I'd just said it out loud. And I love that when I see my kid from across the playground, all I have to do is sign to her to put her coat on and get ready to go, rather than have to chase her down, tripping over ten other kids in the process so I can get close enough to her to yank her back by the arm and listen to my instructions.

Last night we were teaching her the difference between the sign for mother and father. Me: “See? For 'Mother' you put your thumb on your chin and with 'father' you put your hand on your forehead."

The Dormouse says:

"Mother” *signs mother*

“Father” *signs father*

“aaaaaand… Grandma!!!!” *puts her thumb on top of her head wiggles all five fingers like a rooster's crest*

At least she's not calling her "ca-ca".