I can’t believe that I haven’t blogged about this before. Stop me if you’ve heard it.
AM, in the midst of being a total mama’s boy (no complaints; it’s snuggly), is an incredibly independent child.
Not all the time, of course, because he’s four.
But he’s always been the type who, if he wants something and sees that the attending grown up is too busy/not paying attention/in the bathroom, will pour his own water/change his own CD/get his game off a high shelf himself, thank you very much.
We’ve put this to good use. We’re teaching him life skills. He can brush his teeth, wash his hair, and fold (sort of) his clothes. He can scrub the toilet, turn on the washing machine (though he is too short to reach the dryer, which is stacked on top), and wash the floor. He knows the difference between our meat and dairy cutlery.
He has a tantrum if you try to make his lunch (or Taxman’s lunch) without him. Because he’s four. But also because he is a self-styled “expert” at spreading things: peanut butter, jelly, cream cheese, chumus. So he carefully spreads the filling on the bread, then licks his fingers. Because he’s four, and the germ theory of disease is so
20th 19th century. (But he doesn’t have a tantrum any more if you tell him that he has to wash his hands before he touches food. Small victories, you know?)
If parenting is supposed to be making yourself obsolete, we’re succeeding with this one. Once we let him turn on the stove and use sharp knives, I fully expect that he’ll be cooking for us. He made pancake batter with pretty minimal supervision last week; then he dragged his little stepstool over to the stove and told me when to flip them.
Now, Miss M could do all of these things. She can crack an egg with the best of them, brush her own hair, and is the house “expert” in making beds (not really, but it’s good enough for us). But she is usually busy being an artiste. Artistes have a certain dramatic flair about them that involves
marching to their own drummers never listening to instructions the first time and sighing and making statements such as, “Drawing is my life! Why can’t I draw?”
But AM is happy to do for himself–and also for others. I scraped my arm in an awkward spot last week and needed Neosporin and a bandage. AM happily played the part of Abba the boo-boo man (Taxman being in America and all).
This morning Miss M complained of a scrape on her ankle. Often such injuries are highlighted for dramatic effect, but this one actually justified a schmear of ointment and–why not, Taxman brought back five boxes–a bandage. AM hightailed it to the bathroom cabinet where we keep the Q-tips and insisted on taking care of it. I provided support (squeezing the Neosporin), but he finished the job himself. Then, when he was admiring his work, he bent down and kissed his sister’s ankle. (He knows that’s the most important part of the boo-boo cure.)
“Thank you for fixing my scrape,” Miss M said, and pulled him into an embrace.
I actually thought Taxman was going to cry.
“Can you guys just remember this later?” I asked. “When you’re fighting and can’t keep your hands to yourselves? That would be GREAT.”
(It won’t happen. They’ll both be home in an hour. I expect complete chaos.)
I keep reminding him that he’ll never be too big to hug his ema. Or to cook her a four-course meal. Either way.