Recently, we have been teaching Lucas sign language for various simple things. He obviously knows a lot of words and understands much of what we say to him, but since he's so far reluctant to speak, we thought that signing would allow him to communicate to us what he wants sometimes. Plus, you know, a baby doing sign language, right? That's pretty cute.
Among other things, we taught him the sign for "more" so that at mealtime when he finishes his food, he can tell us whether he's done or if he wants more. We learned two things: First, a baby signing for more food really is very cute. Second, he always wants more. He is not ever really done eating. What's that, you say? He finished all the food we prepared for him? But that's not all the food in the house, right? There is applesauce in the fridge, right? Yeah. Go get him some applesauce. Kid's not done. He wants... more.
With very inconsistent results, we have been asking him to "be patient" when he wants something that we plan to give him but don't have ready yet (or for some reason don't yet want to give him) if he's fussing for it. Sometimes he will stop fussing, sometimes not. Usually it at least causes a pause of a few seconds (maybe he thinks "be patient" means "ok, I will give it to you, but only if you stop fussing for just 2 seconds, man!" [which, now that I think about it, it sort of does mean]). Still, he can only be patient for so long. Then, if his mood is right (wrong?) he's right back to fussing for it. I guess I can understand. It's not like he can just tell us what he wants. But he wants us to know that he wants something. Telling him to be patient acknowledges that we understand him, but it doesn't always work. However, what's usually more successful is that Sharayah taught him the sign for "please." If he's asking for something and we ask him to say "please," he stops fussing and does the sign, and then looks at us expectantly. Of course, this only works for things that we plan to (or are ok with) giving him anyway, but it's very effective and he seems to like that he can express his desires.
Hold on, though. It gets cuter. Lucas really likes cheese sticks, so sometimes for a snack or (more commonly) with a meal we give him little pieces torn off of a cheese stick. He loves it. A lot. Enough to ask for it frequently. Enough to drive home the "please" sign. He started just walking up and signing "please" instead of fussing and being asked first. Then Sharayah taught him "thank you." So he would walk up, sign "please," get his cheese, and (upon being prompted) sign "thank you." Then. He starting walking up, quickly signing "please" and "thank you" in quick succession and holding his hand out expectantly.
So maybe he doesn't quite understand the intricacies of language. Maybe he thinks "if I do this motion, they get all happy and give me cheese and applesauce!" Still, being played by a polite baby is better (and more adorable) than having him fuss at you. I call it a win.