Make yourself at home

Signed, with love

Luke nodded, perfectly innocent, perfectly sincere, perfectly inclusive.

A lesson in sign language. Photo by cottonbro studio:
A lesson in sign language. Photo by cottonbro studio:
  • Palm Coast Observer
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Despite living in a full house, I have felt rather lonely of late. It’s hard to explain the human heart, but maybe it’s because I’m working a lot and often walking into the middle of something. One day, it was an arm-wrestling competition. Another day, it was dinner. Then, a living room soccer game.

I was late to the sign language lessons, too. My wife, Hailey, took classes in college and still has her dictionary of signs, so she and our five children have had fun flipping through the pages, learning simple sentences — and a few insults. Although everyone else was laughing and trying new signs, I felt like something of an outsider, even an intruder on their joy.

I reminded myself that everyone feels left out at times, and I can’t expect to be immune from the loneliness of life. “Dads have feelings, too!” I want to say, but I don’t. That’s not manly. Not fatherly. Right?

And then my children came to the rescue.

One day, Jackson sent me a text with a link to the newest song by our favorite band. 

Another day, my youngest son, Luke, 5, did his best to catch me up to speed on American Sign Language. 

With a frown of intense concentration, and a furrowed brow, Luke moved his hands in convincing ways, fingers outstretched at his chin, then pulling his fists to his chest, making circles with his pinkies, tapping his forehead.

“Not sure,” I said. “What does it mean?”

He tried again, with variations, until I finally asked, “Are you making those up?”

He nodded, perfectly innocent, perfectly sincere, perfectly inclusive.

“I was wondering if you could walk me to the bus stop?” he asked, mercifully translating into English for me.

“I would be happy to,” I said, feeling suddenly wanted, suddenly like a not-so-bad dad after all.


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