This morning Alexander was unpacking the dishwasher when he came across the cheese grater. In the past, this was an item that he left for someone else to do since it's kind of sharp and is complicated to put away. Today, however, he told me how he's becoming a Big Boy and knows where everything in the house goes, so he'd be able to put the grater away himself (it goes in one of the upper cabinets).
He went on to tell me how sometimes Phoebe likes to help him put away dishes, but he doesn't always love that because Phoebe doesn't always put things away in the right places. She'll put bowls with the plates and forks in the junk drawer. And that's frustrating because it ultimately makes more work for him. I commiserated with him (because—oh!—if it ain't a gospel truth that teaching children to work is often more work than simply doing the work by yourself) but explained that it's important that we left Phoebe help...even though she creates a little chaos in the process.
To be fair to Phoebe, she is growing up to be a Big Girl and knows where practically everything in the house goes as well. Just the other day she wanted me to help her with a snagged fingernail and I told her it was one that I had better no rip off. We'd need the fingernail clippers for this one!
"Nail! Nail! Nail!" she repeated.
"In a minute," I told her. "I can go get the nail clippers as soon as I'm finished here."
She put two and two together and headed for the stairs.
"Get! Get! Get!" she sang as she climbed up.
She returned with the fingernail clippers and so I paused what I was doing (for transparency sake: playing a game of Shanghai Rummy...) and gave her a little manicure right then and there.
In an effort to keep her occupied away from our game for a moment longer, Andrew suggested that she go put the fingernail clippers back.
"Oh, no, no, no!" I said. "These are the good nail clippers from our bathroom drawer. I want to put them back there myself. She might be trusted to retrieve the nail clippers from their spot, but I don't think we can trust her to put them back in their assigned location. Who knows where they'd end up?!"
Inside someone's shoe? Between the couch cushions? In the depths of her shirt drawer? At the bottom of the toy box?
She comes up with some pretty creative locations for things. That's why she has about 10 active toothbrushes. A grown up always helps her start brushing her teeth, but then she wants a turn to do it herself, and then the grown up helping gets distracted with other bedtime nonsense and the toothbrush...winds up...disappearing. So Phoebe has a stash of them that shrinks and replenishes as we lose and find her toothbrushes.
Anyway, long after Alexander told me he knew where to put the grater away (and how!) and after he'd lamented about what an unhelpful helper Phoebe can be sometimes, and after I'd moved on from putting away the glass dishes and big knives and was busy monitoring school work, Alexander came up to me and said, "Hey, Mom?"
"What's up, buddy?" I asked.
"I've just been wondering...if we're such a medium-income family, why do we have so many cheese grater?"
"Why do we have so many...cheese graters?" I repeated.
"Right," he said. "We have three different ones and that just feels like a lot of graters to just be medium-income. I'm beginning to suspect we might be rich."
"Rich in cheese graters, at least," I scoffed.
"There are many ways to be rich!" Alexander smiled.
"That's true," I said.
And we, as it turns out, are rather well-off when it comes to cheese graters.
What makes this story even funnier is that we're currently watching Over the Garden Wall together as a family. Josie introduced us to Over the Garden Wall when she visited us last Thanksgiving; it's a charming cartoon with Halloween vibes. Each episode is only ten minutes or so, and has a standalone plot that is slightly eerie, but which resolves delightfully at the end (in other words, it's not necessarily nightmare-inducing). At the same time, the segments all work together as a cohesive unit, with a story arc being carried throughout the piece. It's quirky (see the song "Miss Langtree's Lament") and delightful and so strange that it keeps you thinking long after you turn off the television (see, for example, this piece about how it relates to Dante's Inferno).
Anyway, last night we watched episode 7: "The Ringing of the Bell". Here's a brief clip from the beginning of the episode:
Right after this clip, Greg (the little boy) says, "We're turtle rich!"
And I just can't think of a better episode to have watched on the day Alexander declared we were cheese grater rich.
(We are trying to convince Alexander and Benjamin to dress up as Greg and Wirt for Halloween, but we shall see...)