This Tale of Baby Sign Language Gone Wrong Has Us Cracking Up

Be careful what you teach your tot!

Sign language is a smart way to communicate with babies before they’re verbal—so long as they’re using the correct signs. One mom discovered, in the most mortifying way possible, she’d taught her daughter some very incorrect signs.

Thankfully, she took to Reddit to share the hilarious story with all of us. Prepare to laugh.

The funny mom began her tale by saying she’d decided to start teaching her little one American Sign Language after seeing other babies using it in her weekly mommy and me class. (To be clear, this is not her scene. She received a membership as a “gift” from her mother-in-law, because “she doesn’t think I am socializing her grandchild enough and this was her way of passive-aggressively correcting my parenting.”)

One day, while her husband was out of town and she didn’t feel like cooking, she took her daughter to a local burger joint. All seems to be going well, she says, as her daughter uses her newly learned sign language to signal what she wants.

“The server brings a little styrofoam cup with a lid and a straw filled with water for my daughter, and I set it out of her reach so she doesn’t hulk smash the styrofoam and make a mess. So of course every time she wants some, she signs ‘drink.’ And every time she wants my attention, she signs ‘dad’ because apparently the slightly different sign for ‘mom’ isn’t as fun for her. Ok, whatever.”

But then the mom notices a couple of women nearby “who are also signing to each other but they’re looking over at us and snickering.” She confesses she just quickly looked up the signs online, so she may have botched them, but on their way out the door, the two women kindly let her know just how badly she botched them. And it’s priceless.

“They stop by our table and one of them lays her iPhone down with a message typed out for me to read. It says something to the effect of ‘she’s calling you "dumb” and telling you she wants to drink alcohol.’”

Yep. As it turns out, there are two different signs, one for requesting a non-alcoholic beverage, and one for requesting alcohol. She’d taught her daughter the latter. And since her daughter was balling up her first up instead of using a flat hand at her forehead, she was calling her mom "dumb" instead of "dad.”

Oops.

She clarified that the two women who set her straight were very friendly. “Please understand that the conversation that took place with the deaf women was totally lighthearted; they were not correcting our signing to be rude or in thinking that I was trying to teach my child proper ASL. They thought my baby was cute and struck up conversation, and it was funny and welcome!”

The mom posted her story in the appropriately-titled subreddit TIFU, or Today I F*cked Up, and commenters jumped in to share their own sign language snafus. The entire thread is well worth reading if you need a laugh.

“I can only imagine what the Pinterest moms would’ve done had I shown up next week with my kid asking to drink liquor,” the mom quips.

Written by Audrey Goodson Kingo for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

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