The Past Tense

Last night as Emma was getting ready for bed, she said, “Remember, he took it.”  She looked over at me and then said, “He take – no, he took it?”

“Took.  He took it.  That’s right Em.  You had it right the first time.”  I was dismayed to hear her correcting herself.  I’ve never heard her do that before.  There have been countless times, Emma has used the past tense, but this was different.  She was using the past tense, then playing with the present tense as though she were trying it on for size and coming to the conclusion the past tense was what was needed.  And she was correct, which made it all the more incredible.

She smiled at me and repeated, “Remember when he took it.”

“Who, Em.  Who took it?” I asked.

She ignored me and continued, “Remember then you running – you ran.”

“You’re remembering our day at Bounce U, aren’t you?”  I said.

“Mmhm,” she answered.  “Mmhm” is new.  It’s something Emma says now instead of “Yes,” which she often said in the past, even when she meant “No.”  Now she says, “Mmhm,” or however you write out the sound of agreement people make which is less than “Uh-huh” and more than “Mmmm.”

“That was a fun day, wasn’t it?”

“Mmhm,” Emma nodded her head and added, “He took the picture!  You have to give it back.  You ran.  That’s funny.”  She sat up and began giggling.

I realize a little explanation is needed here.

On Emma’s birthday – which she shares with Martin Luther King – Richard, Joe, Nic and I took Emma to an indoor playground filled with inflatable structures.  It’s way out in Brooklyn and appropriately named, BounceU.  Emma loves the place and since we’d celebrated her birthday with a party and friends the day before, it seemed the perfect setting to spend her actual birthday.

Once we arrived, we ran into a friend of Emma’s from her school who was there with both her parents, Ryan and Susan.   Ryan had a camera with him, which Emma immediately wanted to take pictures with.  It quickly became a game with Becca’s good natured dad chasing Emma as she ran around taking shots of – the carpeting, people’s feet, her own face, etc. before he caught up with her and took the camera, often hiding it in places she could see.  Emma would then try to sneak the camera away while Ryan pretended not to notice, the whole thing was hilarious and Emma has referred to that day many times since.

Emma continued to giggle.  “He took it.  He want to take a picture.  You ran!”  She was laughing so hard she had to catch her breath.  “No!  You have to give it back!”  This last was said in a stern voice.  “Emma!”  Then she doubled over with laughter and said, “Remember?”

At this point I was laughing too.  “Em, that was such a fun day, wasn’t it.  And you got to spend time with Becca.”

“Yeah,” Emma said, before starting to giggle again.

Em & Becca

Emma’s self portrait

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