The curious incident of the elephant salute

Last week I took The Boy to the zoo again.

We’ve been teaching him the animals and to help him we’ve been doing baby signs (or our version of them) to go along with the words. His favourites is the elephant which we do with a big floppy arm wave for the trunk, along with a triumpant trumpet.

He loves The Elephant and the Bad Baby and the elephants in Dr Zeus books and any other elephants that happen to come his way bookwise.

He hasn’t been to the elephant bit of the zoo since he was a little squirt and was mainly focused on milk, crying and sleep so I was very excited to show him real elephants.

You. Should. Have. Seen. His. Face.

For about five mintues he just stared and stared. He was stunned.

The slow dawning of understanding that broke over his face when he realised the huge flumping things in front of him eating logs, were the SAME as the pictures in books is one of my top parenting moments of this year.

He beamed from ear to ear and then started doing the elephant sign, trumpeting and happily stamping his feet. One thing I didn’t mention about The Boy’s version of the sign. His arm doesn’t go up in a floppy trunk-like motion. His arm goes straight up and out, at a 45 degree angle.

Oh dear.

‘Floppy arm, floppy arm, darling,’ I whispered checking around me for other visitors, hoping for no sudden arrival of a German tour group. Or Polish tour group. Or anybody actually.

Before being arrested by the zoo police for teaching my two-year-old to do inappropriate salutes at elephants, I whisked him off to the gorillas.

Ee gads, the things they don’t tell you about in the parenting books.


  1. Rachel Wight · ·

    Liked this, especially as Lukas made the elephant sign for us when we were skyping last night! I look forward to his increasing repertoire.


  2. Too funny. I swear it is meant to be a floppy arm and I even pinch my nose with the other arm. Get it right little one!

  3. Nana Winnem · ·

    Absolutely brilliant Jen. A huge noisy guffawing laugh trumpeted from my mouth. Priceless! I love elephants too but had to wait many many years before I saw my first in Bristol Zoo. Loved this.
    More! More!

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