There should be more toddler actors.

Ella’s latest dramatic expression: I NEEEED you, Mommy! I need you. Nooooowwwww! I neeeeeed you.

It comes out in low, modulated, guttural, desperate, exasperated gasps, as if a tornado had just wiped out our neighborhood and left her the only survivor lying atop our collapsed garage in the next county. I (gasp) I (gasp) I (gasp) I (gasp) NeeeEEEeeeEEEeeeEEED yououououou.

Fortunately, we haven’t had any tornadoes lately.

And she doesn’t say this when she’s fallen down and skinned her knee. She doesn’t beckon after she’s pulled the dog’s tail and he’s growled at her. It’s a desperate lament saved for especially trying times, like when her blue cup, the BLUE CUP!, is in the dishwasher, or when she can’t find “How do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food,” and especially when it’s time to stop whatever activity she wants to continue to do something we’re requiring her to do, like eat, for instance, or go to sleep.

The BLUUUUUUUE cuuuuuup! I need the BLUUUUUE one!

One day her belly’s going to burst open and the demon will crawl out and eat us.

The irony is, when she gets together with the other three kids on our street she’s an absolute angel. “Is Ella always this calm?” they ask. People used to say the same thing about our golden retriever. Our response is often similar. “No,” we say. “She just peed on the floor and tried to eat the remote control.”