Birthday time in our home again. Today L. leaves the easy ways of three-year-oldom behind for the hard-knocks world that is being four.

She’s pretty excited.

So who is little L. today? She’s a piece of work, I tell you. She has always had a spark about her that delights pretty much everyone she runs into. There’s a glimmer in her eye, an ease with adults, a desire to report on what’s happening around her, and her ever-present grin that seem to endear her to everyone. At the risk of sounding like one of those parents, I’ve lost track of how many friends of ours say things like, “I love that kid!” or “She’s so awesome!” or “She is just great, isn’t she?” when they see her in action.

In one big way she reminds me of myself more than either of her sisters do. When I was little I was often more comfortable talking to adults than kids my age. I think it came from having young parents, still in college, and spending a lot of my early years being around them and their friends. If my parents had people over, I thought it was my job to entertain them. I remember when I was about L.’s age, my parents would find me across the courtyard, hanging out with the couple they palled around with. They didn’t have kids, but they had a dog, a toy machine gun, and I liked talking to them. Why not hang out with them?

One of my favorite L. moments was over a year ago. I saw our old neighbor leaning down in her garden, but couldn’t see what she was looking at. After a few moments she broke into laughter. I walked around the corner and saw L. standing there, telling her who knows what. That was when she was still two. That kind of sums up her personality.

Another story from last weekend. C. and her buddy next door got into some serious trouble involving nail polish and their hair. The neighbor mom and I were trying not to lose it on them when L. walked in between us, shrugged her shoulders, raised her hands palms-up, and said, “I knew they was going to get in trouble.” We nearly lost it again, this time with laughter rather than anger.

She’s just a funny kid. She’s all third-born, always ready to say or do something to entertain whoever is around her. It’s hard being the third sister, when your siblings are getting to do fun stuff like Brownies and soccer and birthday parties for classmates. I think it’s gotten a little harder this year with an eight-year-old and a six-year-old moving in next door. There’s not a third sister to match up with, but L. hangs in there and makes sure she’s a part of the fun. Much like her maternal grandfather and aunt she shares a middle name with, there’s no such thing as a stranger when L. is around.