Do your hands testify to the last time you were clumsy with a knife in the kitchen? Or do they speak of wisdom gained through the passing of the years? Are they always on the move or do they sit, settled in your lap, in moments of stillness? Do they say male or female? Married or single? Computer geek or gardener? Mine have suffered from over-washing (years as a nurse). I have a scar on my thumb where my brother slammed it in a bathroom door over 30 years ago. I am hopeless at growing my nails and I wear my wedding ring. My fingers are fairly slender thanks to my mum’s genes…
Smiling flower’s hands are creamy white and warm. Five perfect, plump fingers adorn each one. Her nails are short and sharp, her palms tiny and pudgy with dainty little creases. When she is settling for a nap she plays with her hands intensively. ‘Hand babble’ her speech therapist calls it. I love watching her. I imagine what her hands will look like in the future when her movements are more co-ordinated. Maybe her nails will be painted turquoise, above bejeweled rings. She may even have her hands adorned with henna like I did once.
Of course she can’t examine my voice, like I can her hands. A voice is invisible but intonated. It has pitch and volume and each is entirely unique. But I am learning that talking with your hands can be equally, if not more so, full of tone, emotion and volume. Some voices are very sexy. My husband recently had a cold and his voice sank to a gorgeous, gravelly depth! Some signers also have a real poetry in their movements. I guess it could be called ‘sexy signing’ when it is so fluid and expressive.
Smiling flower is all about signing these days. She has us looking for rabbits in coffee shops, mice in shopping malls, cows in supermarkets. It is entirely possible I suppose that children are able to see things that adults can’t. Why confine the myths to fairies, goblins and trolls when life sized cows could be charging through a supermarket unseen by the weary and cynical adults??
Most of our girl’s signing is more obviously rooted in reality and I find it amazing that at 17 months she can express some basic needs and comment on the world around her. It seems that no one person invented sign language but rather it evolved – probably from earliest man using gestures. All I can say is that it is genius and points once again to the miracle of human creativity… So what story do your hands tell?