This is a story my mother told. When we were little, my sister and I lived with our parents in a small house near Ithaca, NY. We each had a bedroom downstairs. Our parents had their bedroom upstairs. We were not allowed up there, because the stairwell came to the middle of a hall and there was no railing at all. They were afraid that we would fall down.
I am three years older. I’m not sure I was always a good sister.
One weekend morning, my parents were lying in bed in their room, quite early. Suddenly a very round three year old face popped up at the end of the bed, with a wicked gleam, and spoke:
“Boodie with a yellow bill
hopped upon my windowsill
cocked his shining eye and said
“Ain’t you shamed, you sleepy head?”
And then my sister raced out of the room and down the stairs.
My mother said that when they got over their stunned laughter, they came downstairs to talk to us. I had coached my sister until she could recite perfectly, aside from the missing r. I think we got a mild scolding about the safety of the stairs, but since they were still laughing, I don’t think we took it seriously.
previously published on everything2.com, a slightly different version