Miss Nelly (as many of you know) fell down and gashed her lower lip a couple of weeks ago. She had a stitch in for about a week, and during that time she learned to go everywhere and do everything with her tongue sticking out. Hence, it is not unusual to see a short figure adorned with a backwards John Deere cap, rummaging in the forbidden cat food container, tongue hanging out and popping eyes watchfully scanning the periphery for approaching adults. Breaking and entering has become her area of expertise, or perhaps cat burglaring would be a more appropriate term. She can silently take advantage of a cracked door, an empty room, faster than you can say, “Where’s Nelly?” Some of her favorite locations? Oh, Daddy’s office, certainly. The phone, with all its cords, resides there. So does a small but intriguing collection of bottles and boxes. On a very good day, one can find a stray bottle of contact cement, or perhaps an open box of papers. The bathroom is another stellar location–the place where bliss occurs in the form of baths with bath toys. There are others: the box of coloring pencils sometimes left open by the older sister. The boarders’ room, with its array of no-no’s. All bookshelves. A diaper-wipes box promises two minutes of unalloyed entertainment, provided nobody comes: that’s about how long it takes to completely empty a full box, shred at least one wipe, and start in on the Desitin.

But to her credit, she is already a little aspiring reader. She loves bookshelves, but usually the object in view is some time to sit down uninterrupted and flip through a new book–which is, believe it or not, nearly exactly what she does.

She toddles everywhere. She has a happy, inquisitive temper, except when (like the little girl with the little curl) she doesn’t. She has an overdeveloped sense of justice, and “finders, keepers” is her motto. She has recently learned to cuddle a “baby,” so I often see my baby with her baby, as much smaller than she is as she is than I. And last night she had her first truly maternal experience, perhaps a bit early. Much as she loves her baby, it is a feat of some logistical magnitude, and beyond her capacity, to figure out how to sleep with said infant. I left the baby in her crib experimentally last night, to her great delight. She cooed and snuggled, chuckled and squirmed; I left the room and went downstairs. Some minutes later, over the monitor I heard a shriek of outright exasperation. I returned to find her sitting up in bed, clutching the problem child to her chest and expressing chagrin. It was clear what she was saying (and I remember the same sensations myself): “What do I *do* with this kid so I can go to sleep?!”