Young intelligence

I am constantly amazed at what children can do. When I was a kid, I always got annoyed when people underestimated me, so I try not to act too surprised at children’s intelligence. Even so, it is certainly easy to assume they don’t know much.

Maybe it’s because sometimes kids do stupid stuff. When a two year old shoves a bean up his nose, it’s hard to remember that he’s pretty smart.

But then again, I do stupid stuff too. Maybe I don’t shove beans up my nose, but I still hit “reply all” or lose the phone that’s in my pocket or accidentally use body wash when I meant to use shampoo. I think that’s why it’s easy to forget that kids are smart: because I’ve lived way longer than they have and I’m still pretty stupid.

Kids are smart, though. I just learned of a boy scout troop consisting of 9 year olds that are building prosthetic hands for kids in Haiti. My five year old cousin is learning to code at preschool, and knows all the ins and outs of Minecraft. I mean, this is stuff that I’d have trouble doing!

Not to mention my two year old cousin who can navigate an iPad and even find his favorite songs, even though he can’t read.

A while ago, I did an article on babies learning sign language. They were hearing babies who were at the age where they wanted to communicate but didn’t yet have the vocal control to do so. They could learn to sign “milk” and “hungry” and “more” to their parents at 5 or 6 months old, far younger than they would be able to say the words aloud. This cut down on frustration and crying for everyone involved.

Kids are so smart. I’d love to have one of my own someday, to help them learn and grow. I have a feeling I’ll be doing far more learning than teaching.

Learning sign language

I’m taking a class in American Sign Language, and I absolutely love it. The hour and a half of complete silence, where we speak with our hands and enjoy the stories told by our deaf teacher are just the best hours of the week.

Sign comes pretty naturally to me. I think it’s because I took dancing lessons for so long. I already associate meaning with movement, so associating language to movement was a small leap to take. I now spend a lot of time practicing, fingerspelling words as I read, doing .gif flashcards on my Memrise app, and watching these lovely “TheDailySign” videos where this girl signs along to songs:

Uptown Funk: https://www.youtube.com/watch? Y

Thinking Out Loud: https://www.youtube.com/watch

I just really like it. It’s the first language where I don’t have to hate my accent while using it, and the first one that I feel good about using. Did you know more people use ASL than Italian in the world?

But anyhow, it is amazing what people can do, isn’t it? Communicate with hands…we are so adaptable. Sometimes our schedules and our problems seem like too much…but we adapt. We can do anything, that’s what being a human means. We can learn to speak with our fingers, we can build flying machines, we can use a pocket computer to have food delivered to our doorstep. We know these things exist, and don’t think of them as being remarkable, but they are. They are innovation leading to adaptation. The reason why they don’t seem remarkable anymore is because we’ve—say it with me—adapted.

This is why things we love get boring. And why we sometimes feel an urge to sabotage ourselves. Why we sometimes want to run away to greener pastures, and why if we do we eventually get tired of the greenness.

Sometimes, adapting isn’t the best thing. New is exciting. Once we’ve mastered something, we look for the next challenge.

Perhaps this is why learning ASL is exciting to me. I’m constantly in awe of how deaf people adapt, and I’m constantly learning more vocabulary so it’s never boring.

Maybe that’s the key? Find something you’re comfortable with but that keeps surprising you. A helpful tip for relationships, as well.

In the meantime, I’ll keep signing. I have a midterm soon, gotta study up!