It’s a parenting shock to turn around one day and realize that your babies have become useful. We’ve slogged through two years of diapers and spit up and dropped food and eager little hands pulling things off tables; we nicknamed our duo The Octopus because of their eight-limbed ability to grab everything in sight. But suddenly, the twins can DO things. Actual helpful things, not just “help” that causes twice as much work. They can clean up a room while I direct from a chair and feed the baby. They take their dirty clothes to the laundry basket. They put dirty diapers in the trash and baby bottles in the sink. They can rinse dishes (with supervision so the kitchen doesn’t turn into a water park). They can put extra food in containers, unpack fruit from the grocery store, and wipe up spills on the floor. There’s a long way to go yet, and Annie tends to run about six months behind her brother in new skills and abilities. Still, it’s thrilling to feel the balance just beginning to shift from “adorable menace to civilization” toward “productive household contributor.”
Of course, all things have a downside. Jack’s increased sense of cleanliness and order means that he is also increasingly aware of disorder. His new hobby is walking around the house pointing out messes. Folding laundry on the kitchen table? The inspection committee is sure to point an accusing chubby finger and announce “uh oh, mess!” Making dinner? Expect a disapproving frown and another “Mess!” declaration over your vegetable peels and cooking utensils. Pile of medical documents? ” Mess!” Mound of shoes? “Mess!” Spilled milk? “Mess!” I’m not sure if his critical eagle eye should produce pride or crushing depression, so I oscillate between the two.