Dummy. Soother. Whatever they are called, babies love them and parents hate them. In our house, Poppy called hers her Mee Mee (an indication perhaps of just how personally and emotionally she was attached to it). We have been through the gambit – pink ones, purple ones, little ones, big ones, animal ones, flower ones – and when she got desperate, even the doll’s ones! Each morning I would drop it with distain into a cup of boiling water, and each evening little hands would clamber up to the counter (and even little legs would clamber onto a tall stool if I didn’t respond quickly enough) to retrieve it.
I’ve tried everything – bribery, withdrawal, and the cruelest of all – the ‘only Babies have mee mee’s, you’re a big girl’ card – only to be told my little independent explorer who insists on being grown up and doing everything herself, is in fact a baby. “But I luuuurve my mee mee mummy.” Such plaintive little words would turn my stone heart to mush and I’d give in. Again.
Until now. On the drive back from Donegal I realised I’d forgotten the Mee Mee, left squandering alone in a cup of now cooled water. I took my chance. I kept my nerve. I drove past the chemist where gleaming rows of multi-coloured dummies sat on display. I was going to fight the Mee, and I was going to win.
I kept my jolly face on at all times, as I persuaded poor Poppy that now was the time. And since older sister has become obsessed with the Tooth Fairy of late, we decided that the Mee Mee Fairy was just as generous. We made a card for her – my enthusiastic drawing countered by Poppy’s reluctant glueing, but in the end it was done. A sparkling silver card to the Mee Mee Fairy, asking her to take away the Mee Mee from Donegal and leave Poppy a token of her thanks under her pillow instead. As soon as hubby returned from work, I pelted to the shops to buy something beautiful and awe-inspiring and glittering and representative of everything sparkling and gorgeous that the Mee Mee Fairy would obviously be. But 6.30 on a Wedensday night at my local newsagent was not somewhere I think Mee Mee Fairies buy their gifts, so I ended up with a Lego set.
Still, I perservered. Now convincing Poppy to leave her card on the dressing table rather than under her pillow since I knew no lego set was going to realistically fit under there, we had a tearful hug at bedtime, but I pulled myself together and kept strong. Off to sleep my little girl went, Mee Mee-less and sad. I snuck in a few hours later, and left the present on the table, taking the card and putting it in her Treasure Box for reminiscing in years to come.
I felt so guilty. I had taken away my child’s comfort. Because I don’t like it. Oh, I’ve justified it to myself – they are dirty, she is three and old enough, it’ll wreck her teeth. But still. I felt like Cruella de Ville.
But at 5am, a little hand stroked mine awake. I sat up in bed, groggy and sleepy. “Mummy, Mummy!” came a little whisper. “The Mee Mee Fairy came! She came! She left me a present!” And so I struggled out of bed to investigate, and lo and behold she had. I pulled Poppy off her sleeping sister, quite sure Daisy would not appreciate a 5am call to play and convinced her to return to bed. But at 7am, the lego was dragged in and has been the only thing played with in three days. The Mee Mee isn’t quite forgotten, but we’re beyond the stage of me running to the 24 hour chemist to get a good night’s sleep. Another step on the road to being a ‘big girl’ has been achieved. So why do I still feel like the Wicked Witch of the West?