Early last week, I posted a status update on Facebook with what I thought was a curious observation. Normally, parents are the ones who try to teach sign language to their babies. It’s been demonstrated that the little ones can pick up on sign language gestures earlier and more readily than they are able to verbalize their thoughts and wishes.

Adalynn knows quite a few signs now, like “more” and “all done.” But now, she has developed her own sign for telling us that she would like to have a smoothie. I thought that was fascinating and it really demonstrates just how quickly those little brains can develop.

The Teacher and the Student

As one of my friends pointed out in the comment thread, though, the reason why I was so taken aback by Adalynn’s ability to create her own clear sign language was because “we assume that we are supposed to be the one teaching them, but in fact, they are teaching us.” It’s true. And above all else, my little baby continues to teach me a very important lesson every day.


I’ll be the first person to admit that I’m hardly perfect. I clearly have my faults, shortcomings and limitations. All my life, I’ve been a rather impatient person. I hate waiting. If something can’t happen right now, I’d rather just move along to the next available alternative. If the choice is between waiting half an hour for a table at one restaurant or getting seated next door right away, I’ll opt for the latter.

Class Is Now in Session

For better or for worse, that line of thinking just won’t work when it comes to parenting, particularly with infants and young children. This is applicable in so many different areas. Feeding time can be an exercise in frustration, testing my patience as she refuses to sit still and calmly consume her meal. She gets distracted and fidgety, as little ones are prone to do, so I just have to be patient.

Bedtime is much the same. Any parent will tell you that it can be very difficult to put a baby to sleep sometimes. Despite all your best efforts, despite all the songs you sing and all the rocking you do, the kid just won’t stop whining, crying or flailing about. But as I am able to persevere through those trying times, I gain a few more “patience” points to add to my attributes.

And let’s not forget about the anxiety that surrounds “expected” developmental milestones. We were told by so many “loved ones” that Adalynn should already be crawling around on her own by such-and-such an age. She may have been a little late to the crawling party, but she got there. We just had to be patient with her. The same with accepting tummy time, lifting her head, rolling over and now walking. These all come in due time. We just have to be patient.

I’ve Got Homework to Do

Truth be told, I’m still not a very patient man at all. My wife can certainly attest to that, but my baby is trying her best to teach me. While it may or may not have been his intention when he wrote the line, English poet William Wordsworth perhaps said it best:

“The Child is father of the Man.”

As fathers (and mothers), we feel like we are the ones who are raising and teaching our children. However, the little ones are also some incredibly proficient teachers themselves. They help us grow and mature, not only as parents, but as members of the human race.

Maybe I shouldn’t call her a baby anymore after all. My little girl is growing up and she’s taking her daddy along with her.