Better than I could’ve imagined

By Mir
March 20, 2009

Today may just be the greatest day of my life. Ever.

It’s been kind of a long week, ’round here, with the children being cranky and various meetings being… well, you know, the sorts of meetings where you’re sitting there, hour after hour, questioning your will to go on in a world where people think you need to have 3-hour meetings about minutiae.

I also totally biffed our meal planning this week, and I have absolutely no excuse for it, either. As a result we had “Oh crap, what are we doing for dinner?” every single night this week. Not really my favorite meal, though we worked it out.

And so then today rolled around, and it’s Friday—which is good, because tomorrow’s Saturday, but also bad, because everyone is tired and grumpy—and this morning I was just trying to get breakfast made and lunches packed.

The children were holding up pretty well, I guess, aside from a bit of sniping at each other. And then Chickadee needed a form filled out for something, and while I was doing that, Monkey was bouncing around the kitchen like a crack-addled puppy. He needed to tell me something! And had I heard this funny joke yet? And then he wanted to ask about his lunch! And then he wanted to know if he could make his own sandwich!

[Answer: No. While I’m all about promoting independence, when there’s just five minutes to get out the door and we’re talking sunbutter (sticky) and my son (messy), I’d rather do it myself. Please.]

Finally I was back to making lunches and I suggested that Monkey go ahead and unload the clean silverware from the dishwasher. He brightened immediately. “Really?” he asked, incredulous. (That’s usually his sister’s job, but she was still busy eating her breakfast as slowly as possible.) I nodded. “I can unload the WHOLE THING!” he said, and then he mostly did. I put up some things that went into the high cabinets, for him, but he did almost everything himself.

He was delighted.

And then he was bored, because he was done, and what should he do NOW?

I was, by now, putting napkins and water bottles in the lunch bags. I looked around the kitchen, and saw Monkey’s breakfast dishes and a couple of other things in the sink. “Well, you could load the dishwasher for me, now that it’s empty,” I suggested.

That child lit up like I’d just promised him his own personal Starfleet. Possibly made out of chocolate cake. “ALL the dishes?” he asked, as if he couldn’t believe his good fortune. (The kids already put their dishes in the dishwasher after eating. The difference here was that he was being given… a couple of extra dishes, as well.)

I nodded.

He pumped his fist in the air. “I’ve been wanting to do this FOREVER!” he exclaimed, and joyfully set about his task.

(Chickadee rolled her eyes.)

A different sort of mother’s first thought might’ve been, “Wow, what a weirdo.” But my first thought was, “Excellent, free labor! I am about to make this kid VERY HAPPY for about nine more years. Also, wow, what a weirdo.”


  1. susie

    I wonder how Monkey would feel about laundry?

  2. exile on mom street

    “crack-addicted puppy” snort, snort!

    May my son be such a weirdo in a few years!

  3. Leandra

    Punkin LOVES to help me put clothes in the washing machine and I’m TOTALLY thinking that will be her job in about another year. SCORE!

  4. Lylah

    I can still pull this off with my younger kids, but it is getting harder and harder to do it with a serious face… like they’re LUCKY they get to sweep the kitchen.

  5. Rini

    Now to find the task that Chickadee has been wanting to do FOREVER…

  6. Tracy

    I can remember learning how to fold socks. Now, I wonder why I ever mastered that task. To this day, I refuse to fold socks. Gosh, I hate socks! We have a “sock” basket in which everyone is responsible for matching, folding and putting away their own. Basically, we live out of the basket. I know, lazy. I had a bad experience as a child, I guess. I really don’t remember why I hate socks, I just do!
    Hopefully, Monkey will continue to love the dishwasher!

  7. Lori N

    Monkey sounds like my son – nothing used to make him happier than vacuuming. Unfortunately, he’s lost the love. But putting dishes in the dishwasher? Awesome! He’s going to make someone a good husband in about 20+ years. (My little guy’s got a great role-model in his dad. God Bless my husband’s mother for teaching her son how to sew, iron, clean & cook! And he got pretty lucky too – I’m fully functional in domestic activities too.) :)

  8. Diahn Ott

    That’s fantastic. My boys have just discovered the awesome pleasure of putting dishes in the dishwasher this week. I am now officially titled, “Most Awesome Mom in the Entire Universe.”

    How on earth have I missed out on all this free labor…the fun is just beginning!

  9. Sheila

    But at least he’s an adorable weirdo.

  10. Scottsdale Girl

    I remember being 8 and being taught how to sort and “do” my own laundry. Then somehow that turned into a chore list every Saturday that details cleaning…the ENTIRE HOUSE.

    Which sucked.

    And my brother quickly figured out that if he effed up a chore then that chore would fall to me. Bastard.

  11. Jess

    Dear Monkey,

    Want to come stay at my house for a while? I’m sure I could find a bunch of stuff that you’ve always wanted to do. ;)

    Seriously, though, that’s awesome. My daughter went through a phase where she REALLY wanted to help me fold laundry.

  12. Javamom

    Mine offer to do this too. Loading and unloading the dishwasher. Which is lovely even though it’s stressful because one is 4 and the other 17 months….and both like the breakables…but I can’t say no. What will happen if I say no? It’ll turn from “fun, we get to help mommy!” to “ugh, it’s a chore and I have more important things to do like whine about not having any toys to play with”.

    Funny post.

  13. Heidi D

    That’s awesome. =o)
    I wish my 8-year-old son would get as excited as your son when I ask him to do dishes. Instead, he acts as though it’s my goal in life to torture him as much as possible. Heh.
    On the other hand, my 4-year-old son LOVES helping me carry in groceries. Go figure that one out.

  14. Kristen

    Um…what? Excited about putting dishes into the dishwasher? Please send Monkey my way immediately. I have plenty of dishes to keep him entertained for a long while.

  15. Andrea

    You are one lucky mom. I just had my son’s pre-school conference (he’s 5) and besides that he is incredibly bright they did make sure I knew that whenever it is time to clean up, he conveniently finds something else to do, like he is thirsty so he needs water or he has to use the bathroom and then takes a really long time. So, I envy you.

    BTW – what is sunbutter?

  16. Tammy

    I’m currently working on training the 9 YO to load the dishwasher correctly. He seems to have an advanced sense of spacial arrangement so it is in him that my hope lies for someone else to be able to do the loading/arranging as well as I do. And, I’ve told him as much. I’m not above stroking his ego if it means less work for me. ;)

    The 4 YO likes to “help” unload the dishwasher too but we draw the line at sharp objects.

  17. dad

    Does he chop wood?
    Plant corn?
    Leap over tall buildings in a single bound?

    I hope you still have his cape.

  18. ImpostorMom

    You can send him over anytime! I have plenty of stuff that will totally make his day.

  19. LiteralDan

    High five! My son is the same way. I just can’t wait until he is more highly skilled, so he can do even more, and better.

    I figure it’s a narrow window that one has this gift, so one has to exploit it for all it’s worth.

  20. kate

    Don’t you just love that delightful helping attitude kids have when they don’t realize what you are asking them to do is work? My kids just love to help me with things like the laundry, and while they are 3 and 18 months and therefore are really no help at all, i encourage the attitude because once they are actually capable of doing the job right I plan to delegate all my work to them and sit around drinking. ha!

  21. Katie in MA

    As The Great Gonzo would say, “But a loveable weirdo!”

  22. Michelle

    “And, honey, mommy’s toenails need clipping. First drawer in the bathroom, chop chop!”

  23. Erika

    Your Dad is so funny!

  24. Cele

    I have a sister in law desperately in need of Monkey.

  25. Asianmommy

    Awww…how cute! Take advantage of this while you still can. :)

  26. The Other Leanne

    For an equally wonderful experience, Monkey could come over to my house, because I DON’T HAVE A DISHWASHER. Oh yes, the joy of playing with water and soap, and the washing and the rinsing…a little slice of heaven for the boy. Let me know what time to pick him up at the airport.

  27. B

    My youngest son is like Monkey. If he’s “working” he’s happy. Only I haven’t mentioned to him that it’s actually work that he loves to do so much! He just thinks it’s grand fun! And I will personally kill the older sibling who tells him that what he’s doing is to be despised!lol

  28. Cindy

    LOL. Your story reminds me of my childhood. My brother and I ALWAYS had chores…matter of fact, my mother should give seminars on how to extract hard labor from small children. She didn’t BUY a dishwasher, she gave birth to them. So when my slightly younger, much sheltered, VERY well-to-do cousins came to visit, our chores had to be done before we could play. They were absolutely fascinated, having had maids to do that type of thing for their entire short lives. The broom, how cool! The mop, how nifty! It didn’t take long for my brother and I to realize the potential in this windfall. In short order, we had them put to work while we watched in total delight. Until, that is, my mother walked through the door and we had to peel her off the ceiling because she hit the roof in record time. As I recall, not only did we have to apologize but we also won extra chores for our resourcefulness. Which just served to prove my theory that my life was COMPLETELY UNFAIR.

  29. Laura

    To: Heidi D
    When my son complains about how mean I am, I tell him I get up every morning and try to think of a new way to make his life miserable. I’m really good at my job. :)

  30. Tam King

    Does Monkey like sunshine and hot weather? cause i have a dishwasher over here in Sunny Australia just CALLING for him….

  31. mama speak

    I have 2 kids (5 & 2) which is why I have two swifters, two feather dusters, two vacuum cleaners….I wouldn’t want either one of them to miss out on the “fun”!

  32. MomCat

    Ah yes, perhaps another year or so of free labor without the ‘tude.

    My favorite nursery has a sign that reads, “Unattended children will be given a large expresso and a free puppy.”

  33. AimeeInOhio

    So, I know this comment is a little late, but I just had to post. I have a 4-yr old who thinks it’s the world’s greatest joy to help me clean. How did I get so FREAKIN’ lucky?? Seriously, she does all the stuff I hate – like matching socks and folding them into those cute little bundles so they don’t get separated in the drawer. As soon as I hit the bathroom with the cleaning supplies, she’s right there wanting to know if she can clean the counter? And is there anything else she can help with?? Ummm – yeah. Life is good! I’m sure she’ll grow out of it soon enough, but for now, free labor is AWESOME!

  34. wookie

    If you can get your other one to mow the lawn and take out the garbage, you’re golden.

  35. Stephanie

    LOL God! I LOVE Monkey! He’s just an amazingly great kid!

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