A terrified young boy, Samuel Spencer, appeared to use sign language to signal for “help” while sitting on a mall Santa’s lap at the Provo Town Center Mall in Provo, Utah.
The boy’s mother, Kerry Spencer, said she taught her son sign language when he was an infant before he could verbally speak, the Sun reports.
Apparently suspicious of the mall Santa, Samuel Spencer used sign language to signal “help” to his mother while the photographer prepared them for a picture.
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“I was standing to the side when the pic was taken and actually didn’t see that he was signing for help until I saw the photo,” Kerry Spencer said. “Poor buddy didn’t love Santa very much, ever really. So we didn’t try to get him to go much after that.”
Kerry Spencer has posted the photo on social media for several years now.
“We all laugh at the photo now. Posting it is one of our favorite family traditions,” she said. Samuel Spencer is now a teenager, and his mother said he and his sister were never fans of Santa.
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Kerry Spencer also explained her child’s sign language was “mispronounced” in the photo.
“Strictly speaking, his thumb should be up, not sideways,” she said. “Babies learning to sign often mispronounce words, but it is the sign he always made when he needed help.”