When she first came home, Ting Ting learned a few signs. She could tell us when she was ready for a bottle or when she wanted to eat (well, OK, that was most of the time). She learned the sign for "cat" and would make it with great exhuberance. She even adapted hand motions from songs to indicate "rabbit" and "spider."
But the first sign she learned -- and the one she used the most -- was "more."
She didn't do it exactly right, but she did it the same way every time, tapping her right index finger against her left palm. Because it was the first sign she learned, it would excite us no end when she first used it, so she quickly applied it to all kinds of situations. Pretty soon, it began to mean, basically, "I want." If she didn't think we understood her, she would point to an object and emphatically jab that finger against her palm.
But now our little girl is talking. In recent weeks she's moved rather rapidly from knowing just a few sounds to repeating nearly everything we say. She's starting to abandon the signs in favor of saying the words, but I believe the signs did their job by jump-starting her communication skills.
It's probably no surprise that one word she says often is "more," although she pronounces it "moe." She's using it much like she once used the sign, though: to indicate she wants something, whether it's technically "moe" or not. I think it's absolutely adorable, but I have to stifle my laughter when she says "moe! moe!" and begins stabbing her palm just in case I don't get it. Instead, I say helpful teaching-moment things like, "you'd like more what, honey? More grapes? More milk?" or "Oh, do you want to climb the stairs? OK, let's go up!"
I figured I was annoying her more than anything until the other day at breakfast. Ting Ting enthusiastically gobbled down her yogurt, then held the empty container out to me and said:
Yes ma'am, message received.