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The relationship between Michael and Koko grew strong. At first Koko was the older sister, teaching Michael how to get along in their world. If MIke made a mess with toys, Koko scolded him with a slap or a bark. When he played nicely, or performed some of his exciting acrobatics, she ran up to give him a hug or a kiss. Before long, Michael become much stronger than Koko. Then Michael defined right and wrong.
Nobody dare threaten to hurt him or his sister. Michael would charge and even bite a person whom he felt was a danger to his family. He was quick to show his strength and bravery.
When Michael was around eight years old, a caregiver named Barbara Weller arrived to work and found him looking out the window signing the word for leash. Barbara asked, “Why are you signing ‘leash’ Mike?” Michael looked over at Barbara and signed ‘Girl’. He turned and peered out the window again; then signed “Know. Hit -in-mount.”
Barbara asked him to repeat what he said. Michael signed, “Hit-in-mouth. Red. Bite.” Barbara asked: “Do you want to hit someone? Or did someone get hit?” Michael replied with the sign for “Hair” and then signed, “Girl” followed by “Red.” Barbara asked, “What? Red-haired girl?” Michael answered, “Lip” — a sign he used to refer to a woman. Barbara asked if he meant “woman” when he signed “Lip.” This seemed to upset Michael who quickly signed, “Lip lip lip — big-trouble!”
Later Barbara was told that before she arrived there had been a terrible disturbance across the yard at another research station. A red-haired woman had screamed, hit an assistant, and was subdued by police. Koko and Michael had watched from the window, and were very upset. Michael had been trying to tell Barbara what he had seen. When someone was in danger or hurt, Michael wanted to talk about it.
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