Yesterday, I met Susie and Tilly at the local park. They were there with a bunch of mothers and kids from our mothers’ group. While the other kids played on the play equipment, Tilly did her usual thing of investigating the contents of other kid’s prams. In her friend Leo’s pram, she found his dummy. Spotting another child’s dummy, whether it’s in or out of his or her mouth, is always an exciting moment for Tilly, and she never fails to point out said dummy to Susie and I. In the case of Leo’s dummy, since it was sitting in the seat of his pram, she grabbed it and brought it over to us, for a viewing (and she was right too, because it was a particularly interesting dummy). While doing this, she managed to resist the urge to put it in her own mouth, which was a relief (we are already very concerned with how many boy germs she comes in contact with). Killjoys that we are though, we insisted (after a quick look) that she return Leo’s dummy to his pram, which she dutifully did, for a few seconds, before grabbing it again and taking it for a walk over to the swings.
A minute or two later, just after we had finally convinced her to put the dummy back in the seat of the pram, and leave it alone, there was a small incident involving Leo and one of his toddler frenemies that left Leo quite upset. While Leo’s mum was trying to comfort him at the foot of the slippery slide and the other kids went about their toddler business, our heroine, Tilly, returned to Leo’s pram, retrieved his dummy, walked over, and put it in Leo’s mouth. At which point there was a collective maternal ‘Awwww’, and my little heart swelled with pride.
Now this story would lend itself perfectly to a lengthy analysis of Toddler behaviour, and whether Tilly’s action represented true empathy, or was an act of pure imitation, or just a self-serving attempt to shut Leo up so he would stop making that upsetting noise. But just for a change (and because my friend G has been complaining that my posts are getting too long), I’m going to let you draw your own conclusions, and get back to writing my really long post on Woody Allen and the dangers of Life Stage/Golden Age nostalgia.