Mountain View Mommy: Sand, Trucks and Testosterone

February 15, 2007

Slave labor?

Filed under: Stories — by mvmommy @ 7:20 am

blog15.jpgIs letting, and in fact encouraging, your child of 2.5 to do the dishes after a meal considered slave labor? I am not sure whether it is stroke of accidental parenting genius, or something that will result in ‘dish burnout’ by the age of 5.

Andrew has always been interested in helping around the house. When he was a baby, he wanted to cook with me on the floor of the kitchen with his own pot and spoon. Not just pretend stirring, he would insist (with that little pointer finger of his) that I put something of what I was cooking in the pot so he could do it too. When he was learning to walk, he would take the Swiffer and clean the floors. And don’t think that he wasn’t doing a good job, he would actually crouch down and do under the couch and chairs. And now, when he spills something in the playroom, he runs for the dust-buster so that he can clean it up. Even at preschool he wants to clean; he knows that they vacuum after every class… so he insists upon staying until the bitter end so that he can vacuum the floor and ‘help’ Teacher Nancy.

Since I am particular about a mess (excluding their playroom – which looks like a Fisher Price/Tonka Tornado hit it), I find it endearing. And I encourage this obsessive behaviour as a skill that will make him a ‘good catch’ with the ladies later in life. (Clara, Kate, Sierra… watch out… you are gonna have to fight over him).

blog24.jpgSo it didn’t really surprise me the other day when he asked to do the dishes with me. He just pulled over a chair and started helping. Of course, what parent in their right mind is going to turn down this kind of help? So I said – have at it buddy!

I figured he would just play with the nozzle and spray water everywhere, but to my surprise – he might be destined for dish-duty greatness. Clearly he had been paying attention to my routine, because he started taking the dishes from the counter, and washing them on the side of the sink that has the garbage disposal. He would scrub each dish noisily with the sponge, and then rinse it with the water. When he thought they might be clean, he would put them on the other side of the sink, to rinse it again. Yes, he was very thorough! And when he was convinced they were clean, he would put them on the opposite counter next to the sink (so I could stack it in the dishwasher).

blog32.jpgThe whole process was very serious business. He was not messing around. You can see from the pictures that he is very intent. And I inspected the dishes to make sure they were washed with a high level of quality. If not, I sent them back for another rinse. I mean, seriously, if you are going to teach your kid to do the dishes… let’s be sure they can do them right! When he was done, he put soap in the dishwasher and pressed the Start button. Voila! Back to playing with trucks in the playroom – his work here was done.

I wasn’t putting much faith in the chance of this happening a second time in my lifetime… when the next day he asked to do it again. And now, literally after every meal, he clears his plate and then grabs a chair to start washing the dishes. He even said the other day, “I ate nicely, can I wash the dishes?”. As if it was some sort of reward! God help me, I am not lying. It is hilarious. If he sees even so much as a spoon on the counter, he immediately runs for the chair to wash it.

Already my mind is racing on when a chore chart could be implemented. Is 2.5 too young?

If this is a phase, please don’t tell me. I distinctly remember hearing rumors about this behaviour disappearing at the point when they can actually start doing it well. However, I am going to keep holding onto the hope that by us making this a normal part of our routine – that it will stay a normal part of our routine.

In fact, right now I am making plans to roll out my next phase of Homemaking 101… the doing the laundry phase. And after that, I plan on implementing the cooking dinner phase. And if he really takes to this, I plan on putting him in charge of Justin’s diapers so that I can simply sit back with a glass of wine and box of chocolates. Ahhh, dare to dream.


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