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Pacifier Duty

Madeleine takes her role as Big Sister
very seriously. I think she hovers around Cora more than I do, and
would probably inadvertently smother the poor kid if I didn’t
hold her affection back sometimes. I see Maddie mimic me whenever
Cora needs tending to: if Cora starts crying and needs to be picked
up, for example, I’ll start pacing with her and gently
bouncing her only to notice Maddie’s rushed to her doll
cradle, picked up a dolly, and placed the dolly over her own thin
shoulder, energetically patting it on the back and saying,
“It’s ok, dolly.” She’ll watch me closely
and follow me around until Cora’s once again calm, at which
point Dolly’s miraculously better and back in her own cradle.

Maddie still loves holding Cora and begs for a chance several times
a day. She also helps give Cora a bottle any time I’m out and
Daddy’s on duty, and will solemnly hold the bottle firmly in
Cora’s mouth until the bottle’s bone dry. But by far
the cutest Big Sister job Maddie’s selected for herself is
Pacifier Duty.

Cora’s settled into the same
pacifier brand that Maddie used, much to our delight – saved
us the prolonged Pacifier Tasting that Maddie chose to go through.
And as is true for most newborns, sucking is often a great way to
calm Cora down when she gets worked up. The downside is that she
doesn’t have the motor skills to hold the thing in for very
long, and certainly hasn’t the capacity to pick it back up
and put it back in by herself.

Enter big sister.

Maddie’s fascinated with the pacifier thing; partly, I think,
because we’ve shown her photos of her own baby pacifier days,
and partly because this pacifier is hollow and you can see inside
the baby’s mouth while she sucks, which is kinda cool.
Madeleine’s also learned that pacifier=quiet baby, while lost
pacifier=screaming baby.

So when Cora’s hanging out in her bouncy seat and gets fussy,
Maddie exclaims, “Uh oh! Cora needs her pacifier!” and
runs to the closest pacifier station (yes we’ve got them
planted all over the house.) Picking up the pacifier, she runs back
and carefully puts it in Cora’s mouth. Maddie’s even
learned enough to hold the pacifier there until Cora’s got a
good suck going and it won’t fall out.

At this point most kids would walk away, but Madeleine will now
find a way to play in the immediate vicinity so she’s
available as soon as the pacifier pops back out to run over and

Yep, my kid’s learned the Maternal Hover.

She does this regularly and seems to enjoy it, and Cora does stare
back at Madeleine with grave, unblinking eyes that I like to think
look a wee bit grateful. Here, though, is my favorite instance of
this scenario:

Cora was doing her thing and the pacifier fell out. I was working
in the kitchen while Maddie hovered around Cora in the other room.
I heard the usual, “Uh, oh, Cora! Pacifier!” and
assumed Maddie was in the process of popping it back in. A few
seconds later and the screams hadn’t stopped. Maddie started
saying, “Pacifier, Mommy! Pacifier!” I thought Maddie
had broken into one of her rare times of being more interested in
the pacifier than in putting it back in, and I’d have to go
and remind Maddie that her baby sister really needed it RIGHT THEN.

At this point Maddie said, “Wait a minute,” and ran
off. She grabbed her dolly’s diaper bag and came back to the
bouncy seat, and I figured she’d lost interest and was now
just playing Dollies, and so headed in to help Cora.

When I got to the scene of the screaming, I saw Maddie had the
entire contents of Dolly’s diaper bag strewn about. I
couldn’t immediately find Cora’s pacifier but
eventually discovered it rolled under Cora’s hiney. As I was
digging it out, about to hand back to Cora, Maddie said,
“Here, Cora!” triumphantly, looking up from her
Dolly’s diaper bag.

She’d dug out the toy pacifier and was offering it to her
sister, the only makeshift solution she could come up with to help
the situation when she couldn’t find the original pacifier.

Can you stand it?


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