There were clothes to be washed today, which meant I’d have to pick up day before yesterday’s wash from the line. Everything had dried, of course, probably the same day it was washed, but I’m lazy about picking up the laundry. Actually, that’s not entirely true – I’m lazy about just about everything that doesn’t directly involve food (see previous post).
So anyway, I went out to pick up the laundry and the kids, of course, went out with me. So I put them to work picking up the clothes, which they did with enthusiasm, wrenching off the clothes pins and flinging the clean clothes in the general direction of the dining table so that several items landed on the not-so-clean floor of the dining room.
As I folded the larger items, the girls folded their frocks. Then I took one load and went into our bedroom to put it away. Mrini came with me, Tara didn’t. After a couple of moments, I went to see. The kids’ clothes had disappeared from the dining table. Tara was in their bedroom. She had pulled open the lowest drawer of the cupboard (not the new wardrobe, mind you, which is still missing its drawers), which would normally have held shoes. The shoes have been taken out in the recent past and replaced with a thick blanket, folded up. She stood on the soft pile of blanket and reached for the handle that opened the main compartment of the cupboard. Then she got off the blanket, picked up the clothes that she had folded and placed on the bed, and threw them into the roughly appropriate part of the cupboard. Then she got down, closed the cupboard and pushed the drawer back in.
Then she dusted off her hands and came to me and said,”I do other clothes.”
She went running to fetch the laundry bag, opened the washing machine and loaded it, meticulously separating Amit’s shirts and handing them to me so I could put Cuffs ‘n Collars on them. After everything had gone in, she went to the bathroom and stood on the stool to reach the cabinet where the detergent is kept, and tried to get it down. It was still too high for her, so I helped her. She would have poured out the detergent, had I let her, but in that matter I prevailed on her to let her elders and betters do their bit. Then she slammed the washing machine door shut and turned on the power.
So: laundry assistant socked in. Shaba-Aunty has one chore less, lucky her.
I also have two coffee-makers-in-waiting. They’ve watched me make coffee and toast enough times to know how to do it themselves. I only have to wait till they figure out the gas stove. Oh, and how to transfer coffee powder from jar to cup without scattering it all over the floor. Shaba-Aunty has a second round of sweeping to do, poor thing.
One activity that has lately been keeping them occupied for half an hour at a time, is the task of giving their panda and teddy bear lunch. This highly absorbing and elaborate ritual combines real and make-believe elements in a manner akin to some exotic religious ritual. The spoons are real (though plastic), and so is one plate and both bibs. There’s a red plastic box that a long, long time ago contained a goodly amount of some delicious ice cream, but now, sadly, contains only imaginary dal-chawal – or sabzi as the occasion demands. The lid of the box serves as a second plate. There’s a Play-Doh container that is put to use as a carton of imaginary curd (yogurt).
The panda and teddy bear are seated ceremoniously side-by-side in the high chairs, and industriously strapped in. (I’m not sure whether they are the high priests or the sacrificial victims.) The bibs are too small for their fat necks, so I am roped in to force the necks into the bibs. Two dining table chairs are pulled up side-by-side and facing the high chairs. Then the meal begins, with the girls making frequent forays into the kitchen for toast, or mango. I also noticed that several bites of the panda or teddy bear’s imaginary lunch find their way into the kids’ mouths. Now where did they get that idea from, I wonder.
After the meal, the panda and teddy bear are taken down, made to wash their hands and face (with imaginary water) and tenderly put to bed. Must be the priests, then. (Unless the process of putting their bibs on strangulated them, in which case they are the sacrificial victims.)
Whew! I wonder if Mrini-Tara find it as much as a relief as I do, once their darlings are peacefully in bed. Of course, they don’t have so much to do in terms of tidying up – imaginary food doesn’t make much of a mess. However, Tara does take the used bibs, fold them, pull the dining table chair across the floor to the cupboard (rendering me in complete agony due to the screeching sound), stand up on it, and fling the bibs on to the top of the cupboard, where they (more or less) should be.
No wonder they say that if you’re having another child, wait till the older one(s) is about three. It seems that they’ll happily do all the work when they reach that age. Wonder how long this will last, though.
Meanwhile, two new words have emerged:
“Mama, monkey toes biting,” says Mrini.
Really? Monkey? Where? Tara doesn’t seem to be biting anybody’s toes.
“Monkeytoes,” says Mrini, pointing to the air.
Oh, right. Mosquitos. Yes, they’re biting.
“Mama, fatter day?” says Mrini.
Fatter day? I hope not! But if it must be a fatter day, is there also a thinner day to look forward to?
No, it’s… oh, I get it. It’s Saturday! That’s a relief.