We taught our babies lots of words, but I found that they really only needed five signs to convey their needs: up, down, more, finished, and help.
These signs essentially communicated:
Up: I want to be closer to you.
Down: I want to be more independent from you.
More: Keep doing what you’re doing.
Finished: Stop doing what you’re doing.
Help: I need you to help me.
Whether I’m the person doing the asking or the person being asked, it strikes me that in some core way those signs contain the essence of what I need to create stronger and more harmonious relationships. I wonder if every communication can be broken down to a request to: be closer, have more space, do more, do less, or help. The signals I send and receive may not be as simple as that baby asking for more apples, but I have a feeling they could be boiled down to those five concepts. I’m going to try these ideas on with my young adult daughters. It might just be that the five signs that helped me communicate better with them as babies will give me a good framework for being in relationship with them now.