Lullaby by Steph Shaw
Here's a shoutout to our very talented cousin-in-law. (If there's a word for "son-in-law's cousin" I don't know it.) Steph Shaw is a singer-songwriter and the mother of three adorable girls. "Lullaby" was written with the first, recorded with the second, and released with the third.
Naptime. It's what you make of it.
Enjoy! And don't forget to check out Steph's Facebook page.
This is my 100th blog post for this year, and I think it fitting to dedicate it to promoting another blog, just five months old but very promising: Blue Ocean Families.
Inspired by the business concept of Blue Ocean Strategy, the Blue Ocean Families team seeks to answer the question, How can we leave this frantic modern life and carve out a peaceful blue ocean for our families?
Blue Ocean Strategy: Don’t beat the competition, make it irrelevant.
The creators of Blue Ocean Strategy illustrate their idea by envisioning traditional markets as a bloody red ocean of cut-throat competition. They propose that businesses should leave this deadly environment and carve out untapped market space (i.e. a customer base nobody else is reaching). They call this unique market space a blue ocean and explain how to create one in any industry.
Blue Ocean Families: Turn the competition into community.
The red ocean is where we try to keep up with the Joneses and fight the mommy wars. A blue ocean family doesn’t follow the status quo, but celebrates and develops its uniqueness while living in community with other families.
Here are five of my favorite posts:
(It was hard to pick just five, but then I am biased. I suppose that in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that the founder and primary author of Blue Ocean Families is my daughter. But that would be bragging.)
Picture the Blue Ocean. This peaceful haven is a place where just one family swims and where each family member can thrive. They have room and laughter, and time to explore and expand. They threaten no one because they chose to leave the Red Ocean and carve out space to make their very own Blue Ocean.
How do you create a Blue Ocean – a unique family culture – where each member has the freedom to thrive AND where success helps others rather than threatens them?
That’s the question I want to explore in this blog. It’s little more than a vision now, but if you find the idea intriguing, then please join me on my journey!
After spending two weeks with our this-side-of-the-Atlantic grandchildren, I find myself puzzled. I've researched the genealogies of both sides of the family pretty far back, and have yet to discover where the mountain goat line comes in.
I've written about this before, when a park maintenance man berated us for allowing a 14-month-old to climb freely over the playground equipment. Now that toddler is four-and-a-half, and correspondingly even more sure of foot. Nor are her siblings any less coordinated.
One of our favorite Maggie P. activities (besides eating M&M's) is to walk to the Outer Light. This includes traversing a half-mile-long stone breakwater, which of course is the most fun part of the trip for the kids. Most of the huge granite rocks are flat enough for easy hiking, but there are good-sized gaps, and some tricky spots, particularly where unfortunate ships have shoved the rocks askew.
On this particular day, the five oldest children—Jonathan (11.75), Noah (9), Faith (nearly 7), Joy (4.5) and Jeremiah (2.5)—made the trek, along with Grandma (old enough) and Dad-o (ditto). The three oldest had no intention of walking sedately and carefully across the rocks. Oh, they were careful enough—but at a running pace. I walked with Joy, while Porter and Jeremiah brought up the rear. Jonathan had time to run out, back, and out again well before the four of us arrived at the lighthouse, but it was only short legs that held us back. Or so I thought, until the trip back. Jeremiah kept a grip on Porter's hand, but leapt over foot-wide fissures with ease and confidence. Joy was completely reliable, and I only reminded her a couple of times (probably unnecessarily) that the danger was not in the rocks, nor the speed, but in not paying attention to where her feet were landing.
As we neared the lighthouse itself, Faith, who had waited there for us, informed Joy that the final stretch was a bit difficult (true). Joy drew herself up to her full height and proclaimed "I'm four! Last year I was only three!"—with all the indignation of a teenager's, "But Mom, I'm almost an adult!" And proceeded to climb all over the area of jagged, randomly placed and spaced stones—with a lot more agility than her grandmother, I can assure you. Even Jeremiah insisted on going wherever his siblings went, dragging Dad-o with him.
On the return trip, only Jeremiah consented to stay with an adult, and his slower pace was due more to his two-year-old desire to stop and examine everything (Porter steered him deftly around the dead and decaying cormorant) than to his size. Joy threw off all fetters and flew (safely) across the rocks, behind but no less carefree than her siblings. I thought I might catch up with her at one of the tricky spots, but she maneuvered through them with no hesitation.
I confess that I was relieved to have everyone's feet back on solid sand, but it was a great trip, and I was humbled by the exuberant courage of the young, who know that a challenge is what turns a simple walk into an adventure.
The one good thing about living so far from our grandchildren is that their growth between visits is often dramatic, and easier to see than when one's data points are closer together. But Nathaniel, six months old, certainly made the most of our two weeks together. When he arrived, he was a good crawler (commando-style), but had just begun to take some wobbly creeping (hands-and-knees) steps.
Before the second week was out, he had a good, solid, cross-pattern creep, i.e. was able to get across the room and into trouble in no time at all. And never one to rest on his laurels, Nathaniel wants to cruise!
Eleonora Margaret Stücklin
Born Sunday, June 21, 2015, 11:01 p.m.
Weight: 8 pounds, 1 ounce
Length: 20 inches
There are five syllables in her first name; think Italian. Our you could do what her family does, and call her Ellie. Janet has posted Ellie's birth story on her own blog, and you can find more details there. I'll add here a few from my point of view.
This was the first time we'd only planned a four-week stay for my visit; previously we'd allowed two weeks before and four weeks after the due date. So I was getting rather nervous as my final week approached. But I think it all worked out well, and don't regret having had three weeks before the birth, as I believe it helped Janet get some much-needed preparatory rest; she was exhausted when I arrived, and doing much better when the day finally came. It was also great to have the time to be part of the family and focus on the older kids, who will remember my visit a lot more than Ellie will.
I hardly know how to classify Janet's labor for Ellie. Was it long? I don't even know when it started, as she went through a few days of "this may be it, no, yes, no, maybe." Was it short? All I know is that the end came very quickly.
My duties were easy, as the kids—my primary responsibility—were sound asleep by the time the midwife arrived. In the interest of keeping the crowd down, however, I mostly stayed out of the bedroom, but kept my ears on the alert, and occasionally peeked in through the doorway. Suddenly I heard the kind of moaning that means labor is getting serious, followed only minutes later by the sound of pushing! I was through the door in a trice, in time to see the bursting of the amniotic sac and a firehose gush of fluid flying straight at the midwife. Then Ellie's head appeared, followed swiftly by the rest of her. A beautiful baby! A baby girl! And then came the most amazing placenta I've ever seen. (I've been present for the birth of 12. This was a two-pound hunk of meat with not a hint of the calcifications that indicate the placenta is aging. Despite coming a week after her purported due date, Ellie was not late.)
Even more amazing was the reaction of Ellie's brothers and sister the next day. From the beginning, the three of them—who have themselves an incredible, "best friend" sibling relationship—have doted on their new sister, competing for the privilege of holding her, covering her with kisses and hugs, professing their love, showing their concern. Long may their joy remain!
What a great Father's Day present for both Daddy and Dad-o!
There were Sandra Boynton books around when our children were young, but they were new, and we mostly missed them. When our nephews later introduced them to us, I wasn't all that impressed. Very few books directed at children impress me. But in the last month I have become a fan.
Specifically, of Blue Hat, Green Hat and But Not the Hippopotamus. Daniel (22 months) wants them read over and over and over and over and over ... but I've yet to grow weary of them. It helps that they're short, but it's mostly his enthusiasm that keeps me going. He can very nearly read them to himself, thanks to the repetition within the books as well as the repeated readings. He gleefully fills in "Oops!" and "Hippopotamus" in the appropriate places, and tonight, after I refused to read any more, I heard him "reading" several pages of the latter book to himself. "Should stay? Should go?" and with the greatest expression. Such fun.
So, a very belated thank you, Ms. Boynton!
Joseph wanted to go to the grocery store, and made his own shopping list. (Click to enlarge.)
He did not have enough money to make the purchases, especially in the quantities he wanted, but I told him I'd gladly pay for one package of butter, so we went off eagerly to the store. Grandmotherly hearts—and appealing grandchild eyes—being what they are, the plan escalated a bit.
While Janet and the others did their own shopping, Joseph and I started filling his little cart. He found at least one of everything on his list (milk, pizza, oranges, bread, butter, orange juice, apple juice, peanut butter, and water), and I added several other items of interest to me (e.g. Swiss chocolate half off).
At checkout, he put his items on the belt, and got out his purse. He handed the lady his widow's mite—all he had. I slipped her a 50-franc bill; she smiled, and handed the change to Joseph. His eyes opened wide, as the change was a bit over six francs, about twice the sum he had started with, and monumental compared with his weekly allowance.
One hundred percent return on investment, and a cart full of food, too. Even I might learn to like shopping under those circumstances.
Grandparents sometimes have luxuries unavailable to parents, the greatest of which may be time. Not that I've ever felt free from the pressure of too much I want to do and not enough time in which to do it, but both time and the lack thereof are relative.
Vivienne wanted to go for a walk with Grandma, and she particularly likes it when I let her take the lead. We started out along familiar paths, stopping for a while at a favorite playground. But there was a somewhat aggressive boy there, so exploration soon became more attractive again.
We hiked past a mall and the local equivalent of Wal-Mart. (I hope I don't offend anyone with that comparison, but it's a large store that carries a great variety of items at comparatively reasonable prices.) As we passed, she expressed her regret that the stores were all closed. Here most businesses are closed on Sundays, a practice widespread when I was young but now limited at home primarily to Chick-fil-A restaurants. While I admit to doing my share of business on Sundays, part of me misses those times and the natural respite from day-to-day consumerism and busy-ness.
End of digression. Vivienne was content enough to window-shop in the garden center, which was visible from the sidewalk. Moving on, we crossed the street to an intriguing path that spiraled down towards a tunnel. Where would it lead? It was dark and lonely, seemingly abandoned: the underground part of a parking garage, empty because the stores were closed. A little scary, too, so we happily returned to the sun-lit lands, up a set of stairs and on our way.
On our way where? We found ourselves in a neighborhood of apartment buildings, complete with tempting playgrounds. Tempting, but in the end resistible—the intrepid walker pressed on. At last we came to the only intersection where Vivienne asked me to decide if we should go left or right. Less adventuresome, knowing that going out requires an eventual return, and cognizant of approaching suppertime, I chose to "close the loop."
Vivienne had other ideas, however, immediately executing a hairpin turn and heading off towards the ... train station! Through the tunnel, under the tracks, and up to the platform. We looked around for a while, but no trains came. Go back as we had come? Certainly not! We had to find another way across the tracks. Which we did, going still further on before we could turn around.
After that the return was fairly straightforward, with just one foray into a business center that I would have avoided had I been the leader. That was the point at which I first blessed having no need to hurry: at worst we would have to call home to say we'd be late for supper. For it was then that Vivienne decided she had had enough walking and wanted to be carried. I wasn't surprised—we'd been walking quite a while, and she is not that much past her third birthday. Nevertheless, I reminded her that we'd discussed a couple of times the importance of not going so far that we'd run out of energy for the return trip. So I waited, and Vivienne sat on the ground until she had recovered enough energy to walk, which she did when she was ready, without fuss or complaint.
We were almost within eyeshot of home when she sat down again, and took off both her socks and shoes. She did not ask to be carried, but apparently her feet needed some air. I completely understand. After about 15 minutes—and a few smiles and nods from passersby—she calmly put her socks and shoes back on, stood up, and we continued on our way.
Not, alas, as quickly as I—tired myself and still mindful of supper time—would have wished. It took a long time to cross the bridge. It's only over a road, but that was fascinating enough to Vivienne, and she careened as many times as possible between the side of the walkway with the precipitous drop and the side right next to the bus lane. The guard rails are sturdy and sufficient, but I was notably happier when we finally reached the end of the bridge. The rest of the trip was uneventful, though by no means speedy, as we stopped to smell at least 50 roses in the home stretch.
We had had a great adventure together, and still made it home for supper.
Over the years I have been astonished at the technical prowess of our grandchildren. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised: advancing technology has made it clear that it's physical coordination more than mental ability that has in the past held children back.
In 2006: Jonathan, who just turned three, met me on the stairs with a blue cable in his hand. As I passed, I remarked, "That looks like a Cat 5 cable." "No it's not," he responded, "It's a USB cord." (He was right.)
And in 2010: One day Heather discovered two-year-old Faith sitting at the computer, typing away in their Open Office word processing program. She assumed Jon had set it up for her, but that was not the case. No one knows how Faith did it. This is no consumer-friendly iPhone, nor even Windows, but a Linux-based system only a geek could love.
There were many more examples I did not record, but I thought of these the other day, when it happened again.
Joseph, just shy of his fifth birthday, had been using his mother's GMail program to compose and send me a letter. He then told me he wanted to make a copy. I wasn't sure what he meant, so I showed him how to click on the Sent folder to see the e-mail again. That wasn't what he wanted, but his sister required some immediate assistance, so I said I'd help him when I returned.
Just a couple of minutes later I came back, and he was in the process of removing a page from the printer. He then shut the printer down and put the tray back into its folded position. When he handed the printout to me, I asked him how he knew what to do. "I clicked on the print button," he replied.
I don't use GMail to compose or read my mail, but I logged on to see see if the process was really that simple. It's not. First of all, the print icon is small (though I'll admit his eyes are quite a bit younger than mine, so maybe that doesn't matter much), and once you click on it you have at least one more step before the print actually happens.
Technology is not strange, nor frightening, to those who grow up with it as ubiquitous as air.
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One of our grocery stores is inside a small mall with a play place. The rest rooms are not far away, but on a different floor, so a visit involves an elevator ride, and Vivienne was reluctant to go alone. No problem; Janet went with her and I stayed with the others. What makes this something worth reporting is what happened a little later.
Daniel was still happy in the play place, but Joseph and Vivienne decided they wanted to explore. They had a particular plan in mind, worked out the details with Mom, and off they went: up the elevator to the fifth floor, check out a particular store ("from the outside only, not going in"), come back down again and check in with Mom before going back into the play place. They did exactly that, returning in just a few minutes with big grins.
Only a few minutes later Vivienne left the play place again, and asked permission to take another exploratory trip. This was a slightly larger stretch for Mom and Grandma, since this time she would be on her own, without her older brother. But she did just great, and immediately announced that she had to use the bathroom again, and would do it all by herself.
She did just that. The look of triumph on her face was priceless. Well worth the maternal and grandmaternal nervousness we experienced upon watching the elevator doors close on our little adventurer.
I say this is growth and learning at its best.
- Her initial fears and dependence were accommodated without shaming.
- She stretched her comfort limits as part of her older brother's project.
- She repeated the same experience without her brother, making all the decisions (and pushing all the buttons) on her own.
- Finally, she repeated the bathroom trip completely independently.
This triumph was accomplished within a span of perhaps half an hour, with no pressure, no tears, at her own pace, when she was ready.
Joy all around.
Disclaimer: I don't know who Matt Walsh is, although a quick search revealed that he is making enough waves that there's a website called whatismattwalshwrongabouttoday.com. That's okay; if people feel the need to attack him, he's probably doing something right, and in any case, he gets this one really, really right: “You’re a stay-at-home mom? What do you DO all day?” (H/T Jon) This husband's homage to his wife was inspired by conversations like the following:
“So is your wife staying at home permanently?”
“Permanently? Well, for the foreseeable future she will be raising the kids full time, yes.”
“Yeah, mine is 14 now. But I’ve had a career the whole time as well. I can’t imagine being a stay at home mom. I would get so antsy. [Giggles] What does she DO all day?”
“Oh, just absolutely everything. What do you do all day?”
“…Me? Ha! I WORK!”
“My wife never stops working. Meanwhile, it’s the middle of the afternoon and we’re both at a coffee shop. I’m sure my wife would love to have time to sit down and drink a coffee. It’s nice to get a break, isn’t it?”
The conversation ended less amicably than it began.
Walsh's whole commentary is worth reading. Here are some snippets.
Look, I don’t cast aspersions on women who work outside of the home. I understand that many of them are forced into it because they are single mothers, or because one income simply isn’t enough to meet the financial needs of their family. Or they just choose to work because that’s what they want to do. Fine. I also understand that most “professional” women aren’t rude, pompous and smug, like the two I met recently. ... But I don’t want to sing Kumbaya right now. I want to kick our backwards, materialistic society in the shins and say, “GET YOUR FREAKING HEAD ON STRAIGHT, SOCIETY.”
In making his point, the author fails to mention that there are other essential professions (sometimes lacking in respect), and that any legitimate work done with excellence and integrity has value, often great value. Cut him (and me) some slack: it doesn't change the truth of what he says. Our society has elevated employment, almost any employment, over work that does not bring in a paycheck, especially if the non-paying work involves home and family, like rearing children or caring for elderly parents.
It’s true — being a mom isn’t a “job.” A job is something you do for part of the day and then stop doing. You get a paycheck. You have unions and benefits and break rooms. I’ve had many jobs; it’s nothing spectacular or mystical. I don’t quite understand why we’ve elevated “the workforce” to this hallowed status. Where do we get our idea of it? The Communist Manifesto? Having a job is necessary for some — it is for me — but it isn’t liberating or empowering. Whatever your job is — you are expendable. You are a number. You are a calculation. You are a servant. You can be replaced, and you will be replaced eventually. Am I being harsh? No, I’m being someone who has a job. I’m being real. ... If your mother quit her role as mother, entire lives would be turned upside down; society would suffer greatly. The ripples of that tragedy would be felt for generations. If she quit her job as a computer analyst, she’d be replaced in four days and nobody would care.
Having been both computer analyst and mother, I can attest to what he says. Guess which career garnered the most admiration and accolades?
Of course not all women can be at home full time. It’s one thing to acknowledge that; it’s quite another to paint it as the ideal. To call it the ideal, is to claim that children IDEALLY would spend LESS time around their mothers. This is madness. Pure madness. It isn’t ideal, and it isn’t neutral. The more time a mother can spend raising her kids, the better. The better for them, the better for their souls, the better for the community, the better for humanity. Period.
The following may be my favorite paragraph of the whole article.
Finally, it’s probably true that stay at home moms have some down time. People who work outside the home have down time, too. In fact, there are many, many jobs that consist primarily of down time, with little spurts of menial activity strewn throughout. In any case, I’m not looking to get into a fight about who is “busier.” We seem to value our time so little, that we find our worth based on how little of it we have. In other words, we’ve idolized “being busy,” and confused it with being “important.” You can be busy but unimportant, just as you can be important but not busy. I don’t know who is busiest, and I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. I think it’s safe to say that none of us are as busy as we think we are; and however busy we actually are, it’s more than we need to be.
I think I'll change my advice to those who are asked the condescending and offensive question, "What do you DO all day?" And I'd apply it to almost any profession, not just motherhood—no one from the outside can really know what it takes to do another's job. First, I'd quote Elbert Hubbard: Never explain—your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway. Then I'd suggest this as a response:
That's a trade secret, and revealing it is against the rules of our Guild.
In the first comment to Saturday's Pi(e) post, Kathy Lewis asked about the math legacy of my mother (the one who introduced Kathy to strawberry-rhubarb pie). This inspired the genealogist in me to answer the question visually. (Click image to enlarge. Family members, please send me corrections as needed.)
Math-related fields clearly run in the family, by marriage as well as by blood. Some other facts of note:
- Most of the grandchildren (and all of the great-grandchildren, not shown in the chart) have not yet graduated from college. Their intended fields, where known, are shown in italics. One is very close to graduation, so I've left him unitalicised.
- In each generation from my parents through my children, there's been an even split between mathematics and engineering. However, with the next generation at nine and counting, I doubt that trend will continue.
- The other fields don't come out of nowhere: both of my parents had a vast range of interests.
- With one short-term exception in a time of need, every woman represented here clearly recognized motherhood as her primary and most important vocation, forsaking the money and prestige that come with outside employment to be able to attend full time to childrearing and making a good home. Every family must make its own choice between one good and another; this is not a judgement on other people's choices. Nonetheless, homemaking and motherhood as careers are seriously undervalued these days, so it's worth noting when such a cluster of women all choose to focus their considerable intelligence and education on the next generation. As daughter, wife, mother, aunt, and grandmother, I'm grateful for the choices these families (fathers as much as mothers) have made.
- Engineering is a long-time family heritage. My father's father (born 1896) was a mechanical engineer, and the first chairman of that department at Washington State University. His father (born 1854) was a civil engineer.
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How do you get kids to practice their instruments?
That's the question of all parents who can't help having occasional misgivings about the large outflow of cash going toward music lessons. As far as I can tell, the only honest answer is, "I don't know. It's different from child to child, anyway." Nonetheless, I have made a couple of observations while visiting Heather and family and will set them down for what they're worth.
- Every child here over the age of three takes formal piano lessons. The just-turned-four-year-old is eagerly awaiting informal lessons in the summer, and the start of the "real thing" in the fall. They all enjoy their lessons, partly because their teacher is one of the best-loved in the area, and partly because she's also known to them as Grammy.
- Everyone over the age of six walks or bikes to Grammy's house for his lesson. Not only is this convenient for their parents, but I believe it helps them "take ownership" of the lessons. It also means that if they forget their music books, they're the ones who have to turn around and go back, so responsibility is naturally encouraged.
- Even with these advantages, practice time was hit-or-miss, until a simple change was made. All the kids have morning and afternoon chores, which they are (mostly) in the habit of completing with minimal fuss, "Practice piano" was simply added to the list, and voilà, regular practicing.
- Best of all, the piano is located in the middle of everything. You can hardly go from one place to another without passing the piano. It gets played a lot, because it's there.
- Here's something I'd never have thought of: practicing is a whole lot more fun because the piano is not just a piano. It's a "real piano" rather than just a keyboard, but it is actually an electric keyboard built into a piece of furniture. Thus it comes with all the extras of a keyboard: the ability to record one's playing, multiple timbres, the ability to split the keyboard (have different instruments in the bass and the treble), and more. Yes, this leads to a lot of fooling around, but how many times do you think the kids would practice a particular piece or passage on a mere piano, compared with playing it with the piano sound, then the bagpipes, then organ, then flute, then with various sound effects? Multiple repetitions, painlessly.
I still don't know the secret to getting kids to practice. But I can recognize good tools for a parent's toolbox when I see them.
It's extraordinary how often otherwise civilized people think it's not only their right but their duty to criticize the size of other people's families. I freely confess to doing so myself on occasion, though I do try to limit my comments to general cases, not specific people. Maybe it's because the only remaining area of our sex lives where criticism has not been taken off the table is its fruit (or lack thereof).
Most annoying are the self-righteous critics. You know, the ones who insist that sweet little baby you just gave birth to will destroy the ecological balance of the world. Or those who praise God for the gift of antibiotics and other life-changing interventions while solemnly intoning that your use of birth control betrays your basic lack of trust in God's plan for your family. There are valid points lurking behind both of those extremes, but there is room for such a wide range of disagreement that prudence and courtesy—not to mention the love we owe our fellow human beings, and the good ol' Golden Rule—call us to admit that the size of other people's families is no one's business but their own.
That said, I recently found a Front Porch Republic article that explicates one of the negative side effects of the recent trend toward small families. I highly recommend reading the entire article, but will quote here as much as I think I can without raising the ire of the copyright fairies. (More)
Glenn Doman used to say that what babies and small children want most of all is to grow up, right now. (I've wasted too much time already trying to find the exact quotation, but that's the gist of it.) He must have known Jeremiah.
Jeremiah has two parents and four older siblings, and sees no reason why he shouldn't be able to do everything they can. "Do!" may be his favorite word, meaning "I will do it myself." He has been two years old for all of two weeks, and is busy acquiring new skills at a somewhat alarming rate.
We are staying in the Apartment, which is over the garage and accessible from the kitchen via two doors and a small set of stairs. Before we arrived, Jeremiah could open the door from the kitchen, but not the door to the apartment itself. First thing every morning, we would hear him knocking to be let in. Now he's proud to be able to open the door himself, so we know that when the door opens without an invitation, it's our favorite two-year-old. He hasn't yet learned that there are reasons other than inability for knocking at a door.
We were in the kitchen, and Jeremiah was hungry. I watched as he moved a chair over to the hutch and got himself a plate, then went to the cutlery drawer and picked up a fork. He opened the refrigerator door, selected a container of leftover French fries, which he gave to me. I put some on his plate. Then he opened the door of the microwave, set his plate inside, put a cover on the plate, and closed the door. He waited while I set the time, then pushed Start. (He'd much rather push the other buttons himself, too, but that gets him into trouble.) When the timer dinged, he opened the door, took out the plate, closed the door, took his plate to the table, and proceeded to enjoy his French fries. When I later reported the series of events to Heather, her immediate response was, "Oh, no! He's never been able to open the refrigerator before. Now he'll start getting his own drinks."
Which was true. Not that it's necessarily a bad thing, because he normally does a great job of pouring from a carton to his glass. But sometimes cartons are full and heavy (especially gallon milk jugs) and sometimes they slip. Not to worry (much): he knows what to do. He grabs a napkin or a towel and starts scrubbing away at the spill. But he is (barely) two, and sometimes doesn't remember to set the carton upright before beginning the clean-up process.
Another day I watched while Jeremiah got himself a plate, opened the refrigerator, and took out a package of tomatoes. Then he opened a drawer and took out a cutting board. I intervened enough to ask him to wash the tomato first, which he did. Next he returned to the drawer, extracted his sister's paring knife, and removed it from its sheath. At that point I intervened again (against his will, but he acquiesced with good grace), insisting that I be allowed to guide his hands as he cut, which he did semi-competently. Two years of age is when the kids here begin learning to cut up vegetables, and they become dependable and genuinely helpful well before they turn four. Jeremiah will no doubt learn the fastest of all, because he is so observant and so desperate to grow up, but the arrival of his new brother has delayed his formal lessons, and semi-competent is not good enough when wielding knives. The girls' kitchen knives have been temporarily moved to a less-accessible place.
A tot-lock guards the under-sink chemicals. Again I watched as Jeremiah decided he needed something from that cupboard, took out the step stool, opened it up, climbed to the key's hiding place and took it out. And then ... I was disappointed that I didn't get to find out if he could actually open the lock, because he became distracted by noticing (from his perch on the stool) that the sink was full of soapy water and dishes. He put the key back where it belonged and proceeded to have a different kind of fun.
Oh, and yesterday he casually removed the cap from a childproof bottle, another first.
As his mother says, Jeremiah is a very competent handful.