"Mother." Emmi appeared in the kitchen doorway one morning as her parents were busily feeding Corneila in her high chair, "I am absolutely appalled. Look what I found in Neelie's toy box."
Her father glanced up from his cup of coffee and raised an eyebrow in surprise. "What were you doing in Neelie's toy box, Em? Trying to invent a self-room-cleananator to pay for college?"
"No, Daddy." His daughter gave him a withering expression--or as withering as a six-year-old can possibly give--and produced a ratty, dog-eared book. With all the triumph of a successful pearl diver, she placed it on the table. "I was looking for my lego blocks. I thought perhaps Cornelia had stolen them."
"Gah!" said Cornelia from her high chair, knocking a bowl of oatmeal to the floor.
"So anyway," Emmi continued, "I was looking through her toy chest, and I found this. You said you had given it to the Salvation Army."
Emmi's mother turned away from the baby for a moment and picked up the book on the table. "Why Emmi," she exclaimed in surprise, "It's your Roger Bunny book! I had thought I had given it away, but then I found it in the linen cabinet and thought that Neelie might like to have it. Perhaps you can read it to her!"
"It's my book," said Emmi crossly, taking a seat at the table. "I was the one who picked it out at the book dealership. I was the one who read it too myself every night. This book is an important piece of my rapidly passing childhood. Do you realize that in ten years, I may know how to drive? In twelve years, I'll be in college? Does it not matter to you that every single day brings us closer to the day I will be ready to branch out on my own?"
"Emily." Mr. Carlo turned to his daughter. "You were two years old. Your mother and I simply assumed that you had outgrown the adventures of Roger Bunny and his butterfly friends making cookies for the tree fairy. That's all."
"Wadgerbuh!" Cornelia giggled, and reached from her high chair, straining towards the book. "Wadgerbuh."
With a scowl, Emmi handed the book to her sister. "I didn't want it anyway," she muttered, and ran upstairs.