Every time she does this I feel a slight pang of guilt, but then I think back to the olden days when people had huge families and the eldest children basically brought up the younger children whilst the parents went out to work. This was common practise and no one batted an eyelid.
My eldest has just reached the age where she loves little children. On Sunday at lunch with friends she lay on the floor for hours with their eight month old baby, cooing at her, stroking her little fingers and gazing at her adoringly. We didn't hear a squeak out of either of them for hours - it was a proper little love-in.
She loves the responsibility of taking charge of her sister and relishes the praise (and extra pocket money) that it brings her. It is a joy to see her looking after her so carefully and lovingly, and equally to see the adoration radiating back on her from her small sibling. They love each other.
There is less love going on between the small one and her other sister, who is too young to take an interest and just finds her incredibly annoying. Indeed upon arrival home from school, the small one is practically sitting up begging with her tongue hanging out, waiting for someone to play with her. So bored is she at having spent the afternoon with boring old Mummy. But the six year old is not interested - at - all. To her, a three year old sister is just a deep source of irritation and annoyance, like a fly buzzing around, something to be constantly swatted. The subsequent crestfallen expression and predictable crying is too much to bear and I am torn as to whether to scold the six year old for being down right horrid, or the three year old for following her around adoringly.. it is a bit annoying, I can see her point.
Maybe I should go out to work and leave the (nearly) nine year old in charge. She seems to be doing a better job than me.