At 10-1/2 months old, my son, Clarke, already had an impressive list of chores. Before you dismiss me as an overbearing parent, though, please know that neither I nor my husband have ever assigned anything for him to do but fill our lives with joy. And yet he has his own mind about how things should be done.
For instance, Clarke took it upon himself to help out around the house. I can't say that I blame him – even a drooling crawler can identify a mess. But I didn't mind the clutter as much as Clarke did. When you need to get into everything high and low, as he does, access becomes imperative.
Clarke's first chore consisted of cleaning our floors. He methodically crawled throughout the house, like those nifty robotic vacuum cleaners, collecting all the pet hairs and dust bunnies along his tummy. You'd have thought his clothes were Velcro-coated.
Next, Clarke tackled some kitchen chores. When Daddy opened the dishwasher for the dishes to dry, Clarke was on hand, helping remove cooking utensils and Tupperware containers. He became so fond of removing and replacing a certain yellow plastic spatula that its home is now Clarke's toy box.
In the bedroom, Clarke discovered a laundry hamper overflowing with Daddy's clothes. He decided to lend a hand – and another and another. Before long, Clarke had several piles of clothes all around him. Motivated by Clarke's strong work ethic, Daddy was soon facing his long-neglected laundry.
Clarke giggled and raised his arms in the air. A victory for the little guy! Daddy would have to do his laundry now.
No one tells you that bringing a bundle of joy into the world also means bringing into your life the most meticulous taskmaster. Haven't these baby bosses ever heard of fair-labor practices, five-day workweeks, or vacation time?
As I sketched out a manifesto calling for parents of the world to organize against oppressive infants, Clarke sabotaged my efforts. Across the room, he homed in on the cluttered coffee table. To the floor went the bills, magazines, and catalogs. He turned to me and squealed.
I stopped chopping parsley for dinner and whizzed over. "Yes, Sweetie," I said, "thanks for helping Mommy. I was just about to go through these things."