Posted by: Jamie Stamm | January 29, 2008

Learning from a 2-year-old

My son Anthony is 2, which means he develops a new obsession every few weeks.

We’ve gone through a “Go Diego Go” stage (during which he would blurt out, “Freeze, Bobos!” – one of the show’s catchphrases – at the most random times); a sticker phase, where all he wanted to do was put stickers on the carpet, his car seat, the kitchen floor, himself (thank goodness for the Dollar Store – I stocked my purse and car with stickers for times when nothing else would calm Anthony down); and a baseball stage, where a bat and ball accompanied us everywhere. (We’ve since moved on to hockey, which has to be played in the kitchen (not in the living room or hallway) while wearing gloves (or oven mitts; he’s not too particular as long as his, and our, hands are covered in some way).)

But there is no way I could have anticipated his latest obsession.

Sign language.

It actually took me a little while to realize that he was signing. I noticed that every time he sang his ABCs, he was doing something with his right hand, but I thought maybe it was part of some dance that he had learned at school. Then one night as I was putting him to bed, he looked at me and said, “Look, Mom, B. I did it.” And he held up his tiny hand, four fingers in the air and the other folded over his palm, in a perfect American Sign Language B.

Quickly, I started to sing the alphabet, and he joined in, his hand moving with each new letter. He didn’t know all of them, but still I was amazed.

I found out at day care the next day that Anthony’s teachers had been signing while teaching the toddlers their ABCs. Posted on the door were cut-out pictures of hands indicating the sign for each letter and all the numbers up to 10. I was impressed with his teachers, and with the interest my son had taken in learning this new “language.”

Just one problem – I don’t know how to sign the alphabet (I’m actually kind of surprised that I recognized B), and although my husband knows a few of the letters, he can’t do them all. So this afternoon, I found the ASL alphabet chart online, printed it out and started relearning my ABCs.

One of my favorite things about having kids is watching them learn something new every day. But I also love how they challenge me, as a parent, to learn new things, too. I never imagined that, at 32, I would be sitting around studying an alphabet chart.

But I also never imagined how much I would love being a parent.



  1. Kids are definitely amazing! Caroline is learning Spanish at home, at daycare and on Dora and Diego on TV.
    Kudos to you for learning how to sign as well! I know the alphabet, so that would make a REALLY slow conversation, but it’s a start!
    Hey, I have a book somewhere on ASL if you want to borrow it. 🙂

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