One day, not too long ago, I put Tucker in his high chair for lunch. I fixed him a hot dog, and I placed his meal in front of him on his tray.
Right away, he began signing hot.
"No, it's not hot, buddy. It's just warm. It's a hot dog. You can eat it."
Hot. Hot. Hot.
"No, just warm. Please eat your hot dog." That's when I realized that I was saying the word hot as I told him to eat his lunch, which is definitely a mixed message. I assured him that it was safe, he really could eat his hot dog. "Please eat your lunch."
He signed Mickey Mouse, and he pointed to the TV.
"No, you need to eat your lunch right now. After you're finished eating, we'll talk about watching Mickye Mouse, but it's time for lunch right now."
He persisted with signing Mickey Mouse and pointing to the TV. But then he added the sign for music. He pointed to the hot dog, then the TV, then signed Mickey Mouse, and then music.
I was puzzled. What is he telling me? I wondered.
Suddenly, it came to me: the theme song to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is "Hot Dog! Hot Dog! Hot Diggity Dog!" I sang those few bars to him, and his face lit up with joy. He gasped, pointed to me, and nodded his head. Translated: Yes! That's it! You got it, Mommy!
Now let's just take a moment to acknowledge the steps in that thought process. First of all, it's one thing to make the connection between the food and the song, but it's quite another to somehow communicate it all to another person without any verbal skills.
Smart cookie, I tell you.