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The Laughing Mom PDF Print E-mail
Written by Susan Pfaltzgraff   

The new dishwasher

One evening I was cleaning the kitchen and Melise, my 3-year-old, came in to say, “Mommy, play with me!”

“I need to wash the dishes.”

“Can I help, Mommy?” I was moved by this rare request. All the moments that I’ve tried to teach her to be helpful and all the times I’ve roped her into doing house chores, I often thought I was wasting my time. But now, she was asking to do work! What a breakthrough! I have succeeded as a parent!

I tried to hold back my glee lest she get scared and run away, but as quick as I could I pulled out the step ladder. She had a big smile as she stepped up next to me. But then we both stared blankly at the sink. I had a heavy skillet with baked-on egg, a glass measuring cup and a few knives to wash. Nothing struck me as toddler-friendly. I stalled by rinsing the sponge.

“Can I have that, Mommy?” She was pointing to my sponge.

Darn it, I thought, I only have one sponge and I need it to do the real cleaning. What can I give her ... I found a scrub-brush by the sink that I never use. “Here, honey, you scrub the skillet while I wash these other things.”

“Okay! I scrub!” She leaned over the heavy skillet and scrubbed with all her might. Unfortunately, she barely made a dent. I hoped she wouldn’t notice, but she did. And she pouted. “Mommy, it not cleaning.”

“Ummm, try this!” I pulled a clean set of measuring spoons out of a drawer and handed them to her. She looked skeptically at me. “They really need cleaning,” I said with as much sincerity as possible.

Taking the spoons, she jingled them around, got them wet, scrubbed them a little, and then stopped. She stood there silently as I washed. I was moving as fast as I could, trying to clean everything before she either broke something or got hurt by a knife.

Finally she said, “Mommy, let me clean!” She was indignant. Did you know that 3-year-olds could be indignant? Well, this one obviously knew that I was not truly letting her clean.

Luckily, at that moment I spotted my travel mug that was still dirty. That mug would be easy to clean and could stand lots of abuse. With new pep in my voice, I said, “Here, Melise, you can clean this! See? All you have to do is get the soapy sponge inside it and wipe it around.” She seemed pleased with this new job.

I helped her get the sponge soapy again with lots of encouraging words. My voice was probably a higher pitch than normal, which is my tendency when I’m teaching her something new. As she pushed the sponge into the mug I said things like, “You’re so good at this! What a good dish washer you are! That’s right, push the sponge around! You can do it!”

All of a sudden, Melise stopped. She turned to me, pushed the sponge and mug into my hands, and said in a strangely high-pitch voice, “You can wash it, Mommy! Just scrub it around! You’re really good at this!”

Then she promptly stepped down off the ladder and went back to her toys. I guess I was being too pushy. And now I fear that it will be a long time before she asks to help with the dishes again!



Holyoke Enterprise June 5, 2012