Emma’s Language

I am lying in bed reading.

Emma comes running in looking for me.  She stops when she sees me.  Huge smile.  In her hand she has two pieces of what are left of her blanket she calls“cokie”.   She drapes the smaller piece on my arm and says, “That one Binky, mine!  Ohhhhh!” She runs to the other side of the room.

“Emma!” I say in an animated voice.  “Are you letting me have your cokie?!”

“Wait a second.  That one cokie,” she says holding the larger piece of her old blanket in her hand.  She jumps up and down.

“Is this piece mine?” I ask.

“That one Binky.  Awww…” She says in her sing-songy voice.

“I have Binky and you have Cokie?” I ask.

Emma twirls around holding her blanket.  “What’s boy?”

I put my ipad away and sit up.  “What is boy, Emma?”

Emma seems to not hear me.  “What’s ee- day? Boy gone.  Yes!” She says while continuing to twirl in place.  “Booooooy..” She says the word as though it were several syllables.  Her voice rising in the middle of the “o” sound and coming down at the end, stretching it out, playing with the sounds.  She pauses and stops twirling.  “Ee-day is gone.” She begins to twirl again.

“Who’s ee-day? “ I ask.

“Ee-day move away.  Ee-day is gone.”

“Emma, do I know ee-day?

“Ee-day move away.”  She begins to jump up and down.  “That’s right.  Boooooy, ee-day gone.  Ee-day is gone.  Ee-day is gone.”  Emma stands still and continues twirling a piece of her hair around her finger.  “What’s watch your finger?  What’s boys?  What’s watch your?  What’s watch, wash your finger?”

“Are you saying watch or wash, Emma?”

“Booooy – wash your finger’s gone,” Emma sings the words.

“Emma, is it wash – like washing soap or watch, like you watch Elmo?”

Emma says nothing.  She stands still with her head cocked to one side and twirls the lock of hair. Twirl, twirl, twirl.   She stares at the piece of hair as she twists it around.

“Or are you saying watch out!” I ask.

Emma looks at me, “WATCH OUT!  WATCH YOUR FINGER!  BE CAREFUL!!”  She shouts while jumping up and down.  Then she begins to laugh.

“Did someone at school tell you to watch your finger because it might get caught in something?” I ask.

“You have to be careful.  Watch your finger!” Emma says.  She runs over to me and yanks away the piece of her blanket still draped on my arm.  She runs away and then comes back and gently places the scrap on my head.  “Ahh, it’s your Binky.”

Earlier that day Emma was taking a shower.  “Emma make sure you use the soap,” I tell her.

She dutifully washes her body with soap.

“Now make sure you rinse your body off.”

Emma stands just to the side of the spray, soap covering her.

“Wash the soap, Emma,” I say.

Emma holds the bar of soap under the water.

Okay, that makes sense, my mistake, I think.  “No not the bar of soap, the soap on your body,” I explain.

Emma moves under the spray and proceeds to wash the soap off of her body.

I don’t know what Emma hears or what goes on for her when she is being spoken to.  I do know she takes things literally, as when I told her to wash the soap, meaning wash the soap off her body.  Often, as in the first conversation, Emma seems to be working through something, though it’s not clear to me what.  Either that or she likes the sounds and is playing with the sounds of the words and their various meanings.  My guess is there is much more going on than I am able to figure out.  I am almost always perplexed by Emma’s language.  It is foreign to me and while I am learning to speak a little of it, I have a long, long way to go.

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