HATS (not) Optional

HAT in ASL  www.growingsigns.com

I love hats!

In summer, I know wearing a hat is the best way to protect myself from overheating, sun exposure, and glare. Same goes for winter, but for warmth and keeping dry (hats also really help on days when my hair could use some extra TLC but there’s no time to give it any).  But my family hasn’t always shared my same enthusiasm for wearing hats.

My first baby was born in early springtime, and by June, the rays of summer came hot & heavy upon us as we strolled and took in summer fun around town. Besides always using the stroller’s built-in sun shade, I remember popping lots of cute bonnets and brimmed hats into my diaper bag for her. By August, as she got older & more dextrous, I remember lots of cute bonnets and brimmed hats being tossed out of the stroller -she did NOT like wearing a hat.

Every time she’d pop her hat off, I’d pop it back on and sign HAT. Every day, over and over. Sometimes I’d try really roomy hats that I’d hope she wouldn’t feel being stealthily put on her from behind…no good. But I kept trying. HAT. We wear our HAT. Mommy’s putting on her HAT. Here’s your HAT.

The following summer when she was one, I found myself repeating HAT a lot: Let’s put on our HAT! Even though she was talking, I’d realized that it really helped to use signs along with my verbal words for commands or, shall we say, emphatic statements. One day, after weeks and weeks of relentless hat tossing (why do babies never tire of some things?) and HAT signing (well, I’m pretty stubborn too), I was almost blown off my own feet. As we were leaving the house for our daily jaunt, the sunlight almost blinded us through the open door: “Mommy, I need HAT!” Wait, what? She was reminding me!

Now, I keep hats for all of us by the front door and back-ups in the car. My kids know wearing their hat is part of being outside, and thankfully, you can find cool-looking kids’ hats everywhere now. Luckily my son has been more amenable from a young age to wearing a hat and doesn’t fight me on it (there’s other battles, don’t worry).

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Yesterday, our family strolled down Fourth Avenue in the blazing sun and took in the annual Khatsahlano Street Party music festival, all in our straw hats.

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Don’t give up if your baby resists your efforts to wear a HAT. Try signing HAT every time you see hats, wear hats, pick up hats, put on hats. As I’ve realized is true with all parenting efforts, including teaching signs: consistency and repetition are key. And it helps if you wear a hat, too!

How to Sign HAT in American Sign Language

The American Sign Language sign for HAT is tapping at the top of your head with a flat hand to indicate where a hat is worn.

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