Could do nothing except stare dumbfounded, not believing what I saw. After all, great-grandson Novio is only a year old. Though he talks a blue streak, not many words are real clear. The charming little guy came to visit from California last week and his mother, granddaughter Tana, granted me the emotional honor of giving Novio his very first taste of ice cream. It happened as our four-generation group finished a celebratory dinner prepared by my First Wife Iris, and topped off with a family favorite, root beer floats.
Novio began making urgent exclamations while clinching his extended right hand. Tana said, “Oh! He wants to nurse. See! He’s making the sign for milk.”
“Oh sure,” I thought to myself, “The kid can hardly say anything but ‘momma, dada, ball, and dog’ yet he can talk sign language? Come on!”
Thoughts of incredulity were interrupted when Tana told me I could give Novio his first taste of ice cream. It was an exciting moment as I offered a small bite topped with tasty foam on a spoon.
Novio gulped it down and his face lit up like a full moon. Tana looked in those beaming eyes saying, “Tell Grandpa George you want more.”
THAT’S WHEN HE DID IT, clenched a tiny left hand with index finger extended and tapped the center of his vertical right palm several times.
Had no idea that is the sign for “more” until Tana told us it was. Novio and I probably would have loved sitting there forever, with him giving the “more” sign and me complying; however his mother stopped the ceremony after a few more tastes. That’s when he went back to requesting some milk. Novio knows other signs including “book,” and even one for “sleep,” which I understand he has never voluntarily used.
The incident I’ve just related still has me amazed but after talking with my daughter, grandmother “Heidi.” I learned there is substantial scientific research indicating babies understand much more than most adults have previously imagined.
Out of this research has grown parental teaching which enables infants to communicate basic wants and needs while they’re still learning to talk. Heidi says sign language helps babies overcome frustration and the practice is spreading fast, especially in California.
It would certainly “help overcome” at least one great-grandpa’s frustration if someone would clearly explain, “How in the world do you teach babies that ‘more’ means ‘more’ and ‘enough’ is ‘enough?’”
It is obvious, changes occur within each new generation. My grandchildren were giving high-fives and pointing out Golden Arches before learning to talk. When my generation was raising baby people, we just taught ‘em to wave bye-bye and … not pick their noses.
My 2008 award-winning DVD on “The Seasons of Glacier Park” has been revised with the addition of a personally written and narrated early history of Glacier. Earth Video Works Editor, Larry Deutman, did a remarkable job of illustrating that history with old-digitized photos from the Park’s archives. It adds 15 minutes to the original’s running time and uses a sepia format to contrast with the hour of full color. I remain completely amazed at how wonderful it all turned out.
(Note: The DVD is still available but now in March of 2017, only just from me. Am interested in knowing if I should have some more made. Give me a call if your interested.)
Life is good.
G. George Ostrom is a national award-winning Hungry Horse News columnist. He lives in Kalispell.