Mrs. Carlo was poised on the linen coverlet of her prized Moroccan loveseat, sipping French tea, when Emmi came bounding in the front door one afternoon.
"Mother!" Emmi called, kicking off her sneakers and tossing a pair of chome binoculars and a worn copy of Aviary Creatures--An Expert's Guide onto the hall table. "It's just occured to me that my birthday is in less than a fortnight, and we've nothing planned!"
Mrs. Carlo glanced up at her daughter in surprise. "Why Emily," she hedged, "I didn't know you were so interested in your birthday. If you had told me sooner--"
"If I had told you sooner, what would you have proposed?" Emmi demanded. "Frankly, Mother, I am appalled at your lack of interest. Do you realize that with each passing day, I am shedding the binding threads of helpless childhood and expanding myself--mentally, emotionally, socially, and physically, of course--into a more independant and functional person? As my creator, does this not astound you?"
"Of course it 'astounds' me, Em, sweetie," her mother replied calmly. "It's just that I've been so busy with Neelie lately--you know how she teethes--"
Emmi flopped down onto an overstuffed striped armchair and crossed her arms. "I'm turning eight," she informed her mother testily. "In case you're unaware of the duration of my lifetime. I feel that valuable years are slipping away. I'm missing out on critical social experiences."
"And how is that?"
Emmi shrugged. "Mother, I've decided--I'd like to attend public school."