There are few things more fun (and terrifying) than looking at your little ones and trying to see the adults they will become. We try to see what type of person they are going to be and what will make them happy. Will they become doctors or veterinarians? Maybe, they’ll have the talent and work ethic to make it professionally as an athlete of some sort. Every once in a while, you are actually afforded a glimpse at the future. Something will happen that makes you stop and go, “Whoa, that’s her in 20 years.” I had one of those moments yesterday.
I took a semester of sign language when I was in college. I did this mostly because it counted as a foreign language towards my degree. Unfortunately, after that first semester, the School of Education (who taught the course) decided that they would no longer offer the class to students outside of their curricula. As a result, those of us poor souls from the College of Liberal Arts and Science were forced to turn towards other languages. I chose German, but I will say that I have used my 1 semester of sign language much more than I have used me 2 years of German. I kept my text book, and I’ve taught some of the basics to our daughter over the years.
I’ve mentioned before that I try to volunteer at my daughter’s school on Monday mornings whenever possible. My favorite part of the day occurs after their first recess. I sit down and read the kids a book and then teach them some very simple sign language. I am certainly no master, but by thinking back and checking my text book every once in a while, I’m able to teach the kids the fun and helpful signs like “please” and “thank you.”
Whenever I volunteer, we’ll review what we’ve learned before, and then I’ll teach them a few new signs. Last time, I taught them “mother” and “father,” so I decided that I would teach them “grandmother” and “grandfather” yesterday. After we reviewed the past words, our daughter got up and came to stand beside me.
This isn’t something that she normally does. She certainly isn’t shy, but she normally doesn’t strive to be the center of attention either. It was obvious that she wanted to help teach the new signs, and it really started me down an internal debate. Part of me was saying, “Hey, she needs to sit back down. She is supposed to follow the rules just like all the other kids, and it would be wrong to show her special treatment.” Meanwhile, the other part of me was saying, “Your daughter is getting ready to do something awesome. Shut the %$#* up and let her do it.” Since the other part of me can obviously be very persuasive, I decided to let her stay.
She stood there in front of the whole class and helped demonstrate “grandmother” and “grandfather.” Then, things got even cooler. She turned towards the class and in her best grown-up teacher voice (did I mention that she’s in kindergarten) said, “Ok, now does everyone remember when I taught you how to do a "V” (makes the sign for the letter V)?“
I was so impressed that I was momentarily speechless. In that moment, I saw a brief glimpse of the person that she will be. It is a definite possibility that she will be a teacher when she grows up. Even if she’s not, she is certainly going to be a confident young lady who likes to help others. It was so awesome that instead of ending the session there and sending the kids off to their next task, my daughter and I stayed where we were and taught the kids the entire alphabet in sign language. It was a moment that I won’t forget anytime soon.