For all that's happening I still had time to go up and see my (first) niece. Actually, this was piggybacking on a visit up that my parents were taking; for a change, they mentioned it to me and I was able to surprise my sister-in-law. She was happy to see me, though.
My niece is facing a new level of preschool with reasonable good humor and enthusiastic about the new batch of kids she'll be organizing. She's also pretty firm about who should play their plastic music instruments and when, and this will include me and my parents if the spirit so moves her. So all that looks good.
I did have one moment of, ``yes, I have no children and don't really know anything about raising them and I see this child for a couple hours a month but are you sure you're raising your little girl right?'', but I didn't challenge my sister-in-law in front of her and instead I'll just sulk online. My niece was playing with her electronic game, something where she had to guide a dog to doing things like picking items in order based on the number of them on screen (eg, one ball, two bones, three hamburgers). One of her moves tossed a bone off-screen, and the dog ran off-screen to fetch it. I quipped, ``oh, he's trying to dig his way out, under the keys.'' My niece looked thoughtfully at the + keys.
My sister-in-law said, ``Don't. She will sit up worrying about the dog.''
Again, I'm an extremely poor judge of this, because I don't have the time and experience with her, and I don't know whether she sits up nights worrying about the fate of computer-game dogs, and I don't know whether she worries about imaginary creatures trying to get to her. (I think four-year-olds are generally supposed not to strongly distinguish fiction from reality.) But ... It's not like I'd been exhausting her with nonsense at this point either.
I trust that my sister-in-law knows what she's doing. I just have a hard time not being nonsensical around my elder niece. (Also, I like that she does, apparently, worry about the fate of imaginary creatures.)
Trivia: The Continental Congress in 1777 called on the states to pass laws to put to an end the practice of distilling grain. (The states declined the invitation.) Source: The Spirits Of America: A Social History Of Alcohol, Eric Burns.
Currently Reading: Transmission Error, Michael Kurland. On the one hand this (1970) novel is brief (about twelve pages) and speedy. On the other, it doesn't resolve any of its central mysteries. Was it meant to kick off a series?