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They Really Do Pay Attention

A couple weeks ago during Cora and Mommy
time, we built a small zoo in the living room out of our
mini-trampoline, a chair, an ice chest, and some blankets.
Apparently I’d adopted a kitty cat named Shine –
Cora’s feline alter-ego – and needed a nice zoo cage
for it to live in. Shine took over the back corner of the living
room and set up quite a nice little house for herself, with books
to read, a dolly tucked into a blanket, and some jewels “in
case Shine’s owner forgets to feed her and she needs to buy

For the record, I’ve never forgotten to feed my children.

Anyway, Maddie eventually came home from
school and spied the awesome cage home and immediately wanted to
join in the fun. Maddie begged Cora to let her be a cat and crawl
in the cage with her; when Cora refused, Maddie offered to be the
zookeeper, or another pet at the zoo. All offers were shot down and
eventually Maddie left, heartbroken. I was proud, though, that she
walked away and didn’t argue or destroy Cora’s cage.

I always want to jump in and talk to each girl, try to work out a
compromise, but this time I decided to hang back and see what would
happen. Cora, too, became curious and went upstairs to see what
Maddie was doing. From the second floor I heard, “Cora,
please don’t come in – I’m working on something

Moments later Cora came downstairs, furious. “Mommy,
Maddie’s in her room and she didn’t want me to come in
but I saw what she was doing! Mommy, Maddie has MY cat costume with
MY tail! She’s going to become her OWN cat and try to make me
mad! Make her stop!”

Still trying to stay out of it, I hovered outside Maddie’s
room and called to her. “Maddie, are you ok in there?”

Pause. “Yes.”

“Do you need anything?”

Pause. “Hold on.”

She came to the door and cracked it. “Mommy, I can’t
find the leotard Cora used to wear with her cat costume. Do you
know where it is?”

At that, I broke down and asked, “Maddie, what are you

Pause. “Mommy, I don’t want to tell you yet. But can
you please trust me?”

Pause. “Ok. I’ll go get Cora’s leotard for

A few moments later Maddie came downstairs with Cora’s
complete cat costume, some ballet slippers, a tail, and the cat-ear
headband. She walked over to Cora and held the bundle out to her.
“Here, Cora. I thought if you’re playing a kitty cat in
the zoo you might like a nice cat costume to wear while you do

Cora beamed at her. “Thanks Maddie! That’s so

Maddie walked over to where I stood, dumbfounded. “You see,
Mommy, I’ve been reading a book on how to be a better friend,
and it said that when a friend doesn’t want you to play her
game, try to figure out something that might make her game better
and offer it to her. So I saw Cora didn’t have a costume and
put one together for her. And the book is right – it did make
me feel better.”

I scooped my big girl into my arms. Not only did Maddie take the
time to read a book like that, but she took it in and acted on it.
When did she grow up like that?

Then from the living room we heard Cora say, “Hey, Maddie,
maybe there can be two cats in the zoo after all.”
Maddie’s face split into a grin and she ran to join her

And I had one more thing to write on my Gratitude Tree.


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