Tag Archives: playground

Search and Find

True story: last week as I arrived at school pick-up, my son looked up at me with those big eyes of his and sheepishly told me that he couldn’t find his glasses. It took all I had not to completely freak out, I’m not gonna lie. His glasses are extremely important, of course (not to mention expensive!), and the last thing I wanted to do on this warm afternoon was go looking for them.

*Sigh*

Schoolyard  www.growingsigns.com

We started retracing his steps to SEARCH the school, but then something went horribly wrong.

During our first loop around the hallways outside his classroom, one of the school workers we knew ran by us and said a girl was missing, the little sister of a boy in first grade. She was only 4 years old, she said. “Have you seen her go by?” Suddenly my son’s glasses were completely forgotten and we joined the SEARCH for little Olivia. Ian knew the boy and his sister and remembered he had seen her in the hallway running by right when school let out, but by now no one had seen her for almost 20 minutes. The panic in the air was palpable as we started looking and I saw all of the principals, teachers, school workers and parents on the school grounds SEARCHING, too. Kids old enough to look were combing the area in pairs and threesomes or trailing behind their parents as the entire school community dropped everything and came together to find this little girl.

All you could hear was the calling of, “Olivia!” as we SEARCHED every corner of the school building and walked the grounds.

The happy ending is that our kindergarten teacher ended up finding Olivia tucked in between the bushes and the school building right next to the playground, afraid to come out even though she heard everyone calling her. She thought she’d be in trouble for running away and hiding. The relief that spread across our schoolyard was immense as we watched her mom pull Olivia into the tightest embrace that didn’t seem to end. Once my own maternal heartbeat returned to normal, I felt so proud to have witnessed our little elementary school community stopping everything and coming together to SEARCH for Olivia.

And I took the opportunity to sit down with Ian and discuss how great it is to have everyone at school help us, and how we can always count on our community here. And I pulled him onto my lap and hugged him so tight he sputtered for air.

Oh, and then we got back to SEARCHING for those darn glasses.

To sign SEARCH in American Sign Language, hold your ‘C’ hand up to your eye and circle that hand in front of your face a couple times, like you’re looking hard for something through a lens.

How to sign SEARCH   www.growingsigns.com

CLICK to learn how to sign EYEGLASSES

No Means No

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Kids have all the time in the world to keep asking you something even when you’ve already said NO. When I’m busy or tired, I often have far less resources -time, energy, patience, diligence- than my kids, so they’ve figured out that pestering can sometimes work. When they really want something, their enthusiasm and excitement for immediate gratification can eclipse my voice. So, saying NO and meaning it is a message I am always working on with my kids. Adding in a firm NO in American Sign Language gives my verbal answers a big visual punch to let my kids know I mean business.

My kids are 4 years apart, so when my son came along, I already had a very sign-savvy preschooler to help me teach signs to her baby brother. We started right away, and she loved signing our beginner signs like MILK and BATH and ALL DONE. My son is now 8, and the ASL signs I find myself using with him and his sister are more command-oriented since they are fully functioning people in the world: STOP, YES, NO, WAIT, NO, PLEASE, THANK YOU, NO… (did I already mention NO?).

No means No.

The other day after school at the playground, I noticed my son, Ian, and his friend were having a wild wood chip fight, scooping up piles of wood chips from the ground and throwing them at each other. They were smiling and giggling and having a blast, and neither boy seemed to consider what I saw to be massively dangerous, but I knew their fun could change quickly and I called his name. He was too far away for me to yell out a full command, so I just signed NO when he looked at me. He knew we already had a strict rule about not throwing wood chips but had forgotten in that moment of fun.

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Of course, right then as Ian looked to face me, his friend tossed a huge bunch of wood chips right at him, and my son quickly bent down for ammunition to retaliate. I called his name again and signed NO once more as he held an armful of wood chips, ready to fly. My face meant business and he saw that. My hand was also speaking loud and clear, backing up my voice and my face. So he dropped the pile of wood chips and stepped away, but I could tell he was very annoyed at losing not one but two wood chip battles that day -with me and his friend.

It all ended there and I didn’t need to explain myself or talk to him. I signed GO PLAY, and he ran off with his pal to the monkey bars. I felt relieved that I could shut down the wood chip fight without embarrassing either of us, or his friend, with just a call of his name and one ASL sign.

No means no (unless you say yes).

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