Babies might not be able to talk, but plenty of parents have found a way to communicate with them by teaching them sign language. Long before a child can speak his or her first word, they're able to use their hands to express things. One mother decided to teach her daughter American Sign Language so she could better understand her little one's needs and wants, and before long, her baby was telling her when she wanted more and when she was done. She even started signing "mom" and "dad." However, the mom learned the hard way that ASL is very nuanced and the slightest change in a sign can drastically alter its meaning.
Writing on Reddit, the woman described taking her daughter to a burger restaurant one day when her husband was out of town. The mom enjoyed a beer while the waiter brought out a styrofoam cup of water for her daughter, which the mom moved out of her baby's reach so she wouldn't smash it and make a mess. It was no problem since any time the baby wanted some, she'd sign "drink" and have a sip. And to tell her mom that, she'd get her attention by signing "dad" since she doesn't like doing the sign for "mom."
A couple tables away were two women signing to each other but occasionally looking over and laughing at the baby. As they were leaving, they stopped by the table and used their phone to write a note for the mom to read. It explained to her that her kid was calling her dumb and telling her she wanted to drink alcohol.
The mom wrote:
"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."
Commenters loved the story.
Let this be a lesson to anyone teaching their kids to sign - precision matters!
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