An infant with a phobia of Santa Claus sent a call for help through sign language when he found himself parked on St. Nick's lap. The boy's mother shared a photo of the yuletide encounter on social media, where it has become a viral sensation.
On Dec. 5, professor Kerry Spencer of Stevenson University took to Twitter to share a picture of her son desperately trying to escape from a Santa Claus at the Provo Center Mall in Provo, Utah.
"We taught our baby sign language," Kerry tweeted out, sharing a photo of her child nervously signing from Santa's lap. "This is the sign for 'help.' You're welcome."
The amusing tweet took the internet by storm. As of Dec. 11, it had been retweeted 7,000 times and received 27,000 likes.
Kerry had taught her son, Samuel Spencer, a variation of American Sign Language (ASL) when he was an infant so that they could communicate more easily.
"We taught both our kids baby sign because they can sign before they talk and it is so very useful to be able to communicate with your baby," Kerry told Mashable.
The mother of two disclosed that the picture had been taken years before she decided to share it on Twitter. Samuel is now 13 years old.
"I post it on Facebook annually and this year my friend ... asked me to tweet it so she could retweet it," she explained.
Several social media users noted that Samuel's gesture in the photo was not the ASL sign for "help."
"Which sign variant is this?" asked one Twitter user.
"In baby sign you go with what they do," Kerry responded. "We showed him the ASL version and this is what he did. ... It's ASL baby sign; like with spoken language certain words are 'mispronounced' by babies learning them."
On Dec. 11, Kerry said during an interview that Samuel refused to meet Santa Claus every subsequent holiday season after his first fateful encounter.
"Poor buddy didn't love Santa very much, ever really," she told Today. "So we didn't try to get him to go much after that."
Kerry, who now lives in Maryland, added that both Samuel and his sister, Lily Spencer, find it terrifying that Santa Claus knows when someone has been naughty or nice.
"Both of my children find the idea of Santa sort of sketch!" she said. "They say, 'it's just not normal for one man to know so much!'"