Friday, January 22, 2010

More, More, More

"There was a disturbance in my heart, a voice that spoke there and said, I want, I want, I want! It happened every afternoon, and when I tried to suppress it got even stronger. It said only one thing, I want, I want! And I would ask, 'What do you want?' But this is all it would ever tell me." —Saul Bellow, "Henderson the Rain King."

I've mentioned before that Kelly has tried to teach Elliot sign language. Unfortunately, he's only really picked up one sign: the gesture signifying "more."

But what Elliot lacks in signing vocabulary, he makes up for in zeal. He uses the "more" sign constantly. And he's pretty much stretched its meaning to include anything he could possibly want.

The other day, I let him loose in Walgreen's (an error on my part). After scattering candy cars and nearly tripping an elderly Chinese woman, he came upon a not-age-appropriate toy that was perched on a shelf out of his reach.

He looked at me and did the "more" sign repeatedly. I think it's basically his way of saying, "Pay attention: I have wants and desires that need to be met."

It got me thinking. Maybe Elliot didn't learn any other signs for good reason: No one really needs any other signs. In fact, I feel like a sucker for bothering to learn English. Elliot's one sign gets him everything he requires in life.

(Well, except in the case of the Walgreen's toy: Shortly after he did the sign, I chased him down the aisle and strapped him back into his stroller while he flailed and shrieked at the top of his lungs. You can't have everything.)