The Guinea Pig

I spent the morning with Esther and Eloise, who had the day off from school, while their little sister did have school. We all kept looking for her behind and beside us as we all grabbed for a hand that wasn’t there.


At one point Esther was convinced that we left Astrid at the bakery. And for the moment after that I was convinced we left her somewhere too. But we have Eloise to keep us in check. She’s the hand for Astrid when mine are full, the one to bathe her when I have to work, and the one to remind me what time school ends or dance starts.


And Eloise does all of this without me asking. Esther easily picks up that slack if Eloise is busy with friends or dance.


The rythym of the three always keeps me calm as a mother – because I have help in so many other hands and hearts without question.


And maybe it helps that Astrid is five and seven years younger than her sisters – because having a “baby sister” is easier to handle than just a typical “little sister.”


As Eloise says, “Astrid leads a charmed life.” But then Eloise doesn’t do anything to make it a less charmed life – in fact I think she makes sure of the charm.


So this morning I took the big girls out for pain au chocolat and cafe au lait(chocolat chaud for them..but Eloise does sip off of my coffee…don’t tell Jed). We sipped and ate and talked about school and friends and how we will visit Paris someday soon. We made plans for their school Valentines and made a grocery list. Then Eloise looked at her watch and told us to hurry and finish so we wouldn’t be late picking up Astrid.


“I love Astrid’s school.” She said as we gathered our coats and hats. “I wish I went to preschool there. She’s so lucky.”


I know, is a great school. But your preschool was pretty great too. I didn’t know where to send you – you were my first, and I think we did okay.


“You did – and I liked my school. I’m always your guinea pig though.” She looked at me as she said this and I could tell by the light in her eyes that she was slightly teasing me. “Being the oldest means you can try things on me to see if they are good or bad and then make better decisions for Esther and Astrid. And I’m okay with that as it’s fun to be the first and to try things. And I will always tell you if something sucks…you know, so my sisters get something better.”


So you don’t mind being our guinea pig, is that what you are saying…because if you realize this is truly a fact(it is) and you own it and kind of like it, well there are many more new experiences we can try. Just wait for high school!


“Sure Mom, I can handle it. I just hope my sisters know what I’ve done for them.” Eloise kind of laughed as she said this.


I don’t know any two sisters who look up to their big sister more. Ever. They will always look for your guidance and your hand, because you’ve always given it so freely to them.


“Soooo, maybe now that I know I’m a guinea pig…I can actually have one as a pet?”


Don’t push your luck, sister.


About Tracy

My name is Tracy Morrison and I live in sunny Minnesota. I'm neither British nor a nun - I'm just a Midwesterner with a headache. This is mainly a humor and lifestyle blog that documents the lighter side of parenting. I am an ex-corporate ladder climber turned freelance writer, social media manager, world traveler, and marathon runner. I would love for you to contact me at

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  1. says

    This post is making me teary. Maybe it’s the sweet picture. Maybe it’s the fact that I am pregnant and insanely hormonal. Probably though, it’s that you captured such a sweet moment and your oldest daughter sounds like a lovely human being. I really hope my daughter (soon to be big sis) will be as much of a sport about being the oldest and therefore the guinea pig.
    Pam recently posted..Who is Pregnant, Anyway?

  2. says

    She is so smart.
    And amazing.
    I always believed that I was a guinea pig too. I blazed the trail for my sister, as I used to say. 🙂
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  3. says

    Wow, she is wise beyond her years. Her sisters are lucky to have such a great big sister and it seems you did a good job with your guinea pig.
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  4. says

    Come on Tracy, after all she does for you, couldn’t you just t his once get Eloise a guinea pig? After all she’s done for you and her sisters? You know she’d take really good care of it. And it stays in a cage…most of the time.


  5. says

    What an amazing girl you have! I had a guinea pig for a few years in middle school. I hate to say it but it was pretty stinky and loud. (Sorry, Eloise, I’m not giving you much to work with here.) It was the only pet my parents ever let my sister and I have and we loved it, but yeah, it’s still a pooping and peeing animal in the house. 😉
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  6. Melanie H. says

    Tears & beauty!! Love this! What a very special girl you have! Sibling bonds are so precious…siblings close in age are great friends, but I love the bond between oldest & youngest…something so special about that! Last night we were busy dealing with a 4-year old tantrum & we hadn’t had a chance to get our 2-year old ready for bed. I came upstairs to get her ready & our oldest had changed her diaper, put her jammies on her & was getting ready to put her in the crib (he forgot about brushing her teeth, but he often forgets brushing his own teeth 😉 It was such a sweet moment & I was so thankful for the special bond they have! He is our guinea pig, too, and though he may grumble sometimes, I think he likes the role, too!

  7. says

    Love this. Especially love that you have an Esther. I have one too. And we lived in France for a few years, where her school-mates called her “Esthair.” Loved that too. We also have a guinea pig. But you better not tell that to your girls. My Esther caught me at a weak moment. Now we feed it, and feed it, and feed it, and worry about it being bored. Ah, caged pets.
    Betsy recently posted..The apple and the tree

  8. says

    Your daughters are blessed to have an older sister who’s so wise and so willing to be a leader (because that’s what she’s really doing) — guinea pig or not. And you’re blessed as a mom to have had whatever lessons and values YOU instilled manifested right now and in the present, versus seeing it years from now. No doubt, she’s going places.

    Now go and get her that guinea pig. 😉
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  9. says

    Wow. Tears are streaming down my face. How precious. I love picturing the rhythm of your family flowing so beautifully. I always want my kids to know that they have each other, will have each other, long after mom and dad are gone. And I love how Eloise owns her spot as oldest…and way to go to her for the nicely placed guinea pig plug! (As an aside, we had a GP and then inherited one from a friend who didn’t want it anymore. Only our GP was make and hers was female. So we spent $200 to neuter a $40 pet so the two piggies could be friends……. Yeah. I wish I were joking…
    Jen @ and two more makes FIVE recently posted..I think I lost rational Jen

    • says

      Oh my on the guinea pigs – I cannot even imagine! I am so happy that my girls have each other – for always. My mom has 5 sisters and I love how close they are. xo

  10. says

    Raising a 20yo and 18yo girls, who also have a 12yo baby sister, I can certainly relate. They don’t always like each other (I mean, they’re girls…enough said) but they definitely look out for each other…me, too. They also share 1 bedroom. However, my son is very happy to be the only boy in the house…mostly 😉 Thanks for sharing your sweet story.
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