I mentioned last week that my niece Emrie was coming to my house for a sleepover. This is the niece who was formerly AKA "The Niece Who Hates Me," dubbed such because for reasons unknown and until very recently she openly despised me from the moment she emerged from the womb.
To say our relationship has been rocky over the four years and three quarters that she has been alive would be like calling World War II "a little scuffle." Emrie somehow seemed to hate me before she even became self aware. As an infant, she would scream when I would enter a room. When she learned to speak, she used the new-found skill to demand that I leave whatever room she was in. On more than one occasion my request for a hug has been met with rejection.
It's like high school all over again.
So it was a total shock when she called me last week and this conversation happened:
Emrie: Uncle Eli, I've been crying today?
Eli: Oh no! Why?
Emrie: Because I miss you so much.
Eli: . . . you know you're talking to me, right?
Emrie: Can I come sleep over at your house?
I wasn't fooled. I knew the sudden change of heart had everything to do with the fact that last time she visited my house she discovered a laundry chute and had never been more entertained by anything in the history of the world. But I don't care. One of the cutest children on the planet suddenly wants to be my friend and when that door opens you don't ask why, you run through it.
The sleepover was one of the more entertaining experiences I've had in a while, mostly because this four year old has enough sass to power a small country and a hysterical vocabulary with which to relay that sass. Also, cute:

I borrowed Ollie for the night because I figured that having a puppy available could only help. I now bring you:
Conversations With Emrie
Emrie: [leaning in and whispering into Ollie's ear] Mr. Ollie Pants? Are you happy with where your life is going?

Emrie: WAIT! What time is it?!
Eli: Um . . . 9:30. Why?
Emrie: Uncle Eli! My bedtime is 8 o'clock. I wanted to stay up late but THIS is inappropriate!
[I have a red lamp in one room that, when on, makes the walls look slightly pink]
Emrie: I brought my sleeping bag and I want to sleep in that pink room.
Eli: Ok. Let's get your sleeping bag set up.
[I flipped on the overhead light and the pink glow disappeared]
Emrie: This room isn't pink!? Well THAT was a lie!
Eli: Ollie woke me up in the middle of the night to go potty.
Emrie: Oh no. I didn't even hear you. Did you tiptoe?
Eli: Yes. I tried not to wake you up.
Emrie: Was that so I wouldn't have a bad day?
Eli: Yes. I wanted you to get your rest.
Emrie: So I guess now you're going to have a bad day.
Emrie: [sitting at the table for breakfast] I got home from preschool the other day and I was just exhausted and then--WAIT! [Emrie's tiny hand flies over her plate to block Eli from putting some blueberries on it]
Eli: What's the matter?
Eli: What do you mean?
Emrie: I MEAN that you're supposed to WASH fruit before you start feeding it to people!
[hand still over her plate, Emrie gives Eli a death stare until he slowly backs into the kitchen to wash the fruit]

Emrie: Why did Matt get a dog?
Eli: Because he was lonely.
Emrie: Why?
Eli: Well, his family lives really far away.
Emrie: So why doesn't he just have them move closer?
Eli: I think this was a less expensive option.
Emrie: You should only get a dog if you are ready to be responsible and my mom and dad with NOT be getting a cat.
[Emrie had several conversations with Ollie where she responded for him in a high-pitched voice while she forced him to sit on her lap]
Emrie: Ollie, do want to go to Disneyland?
Ollie: Yes please! I want to go see ALL the princesses.
Emrie: Well TOO BAD Mr. Ollie Pants because dogs can't go to Disneyland.
Ollie: Oh. I'm so lonely and sad now. No one will take me to Disneyland.
Emrie: That's ok. You can come to my birthday party! I'll make an invitation for you and Matt!
Ollie: Ok. I'll bring you lots of presents and I won't poop on the cake.
Eli: Who is that on your shirt?
Emrie: Elsa.
Eli: Who's Elsa?
Emrie: She's the one who sings "the cold never bothered me anyway" in Frozen.
Eli: Oh. Why does she sing that?
Emrie: Because she let it go.
Eli: Why did she let it go?
Emrie: [clearly annoyed] Eli, grandma and grandpa have the movie at their house. Why don't you just go watch it.

Emrie: How old is Mr. Ollie Pants?
Eli: He's just a baby.
Emrie: Oh. Is that why he doesn't listen so well?
Gosh I love that kid.
~It Just Gets Stranger