First you spend all your time doing things for your kids – serving them meals and tidying up after them; perpetually changing, washing and bathing them; and the amount of time you spend picking up the toys that they’ve deposited in every nook and cranny of the house (only to have them gleefully upturn the basket and scatter the whole dang lot the next minute) doesn’t bear thinking about.
But that was then. Earlier. Way back when they were just a year old and not yet able to walk let alone talk. Now is different. Now they can run and jump and understand a whole lot of what is said to them. Now, in short, is payback time.
The twins are learning very quickly to handle most of the tasks required to get them through the day. At milk time, they enthusiastically help me to take out the packet of milk and proceed to play pass the parcel with it before I can recover it from them and pour it into their glasses. At mealtimes, they quickly climb into their high chairs and belt themselves in. They lend a helping hand in changing their own clothes (and diapers!), taking off their shoes and clips, brushing their teeth, and bathing themselves and each other.
But it doesn’t stop there. They are already trained at several household chores as well – and picking up new skills every day. As soon as I enter the house after a tiring session of tennis, they immediately take my water bottle from me. Jostling, pushing, biting, screaming, they run all over the house with it. It eventually ends up in the kitchen where it belongs, but I can’t really say how it gets there.
As soon as they spy a goodly pile in the laundry basket, they drag it to the washing machine, stuff everything in, and do their utmost to start the machine. When the laundry is done, there they are, waiting to unload the machine and hang the clothes out on the line. (So what if a few of the freshly-laundered clothes are dragged on the floor or flung over the balcony railing in the process?)
If I’ve just finished eating, they’re happy to carry away my (unbreakable)plate and deposit it in the kitchen (though I don’t trust them with my favorite all-too-breakable coffee cup yet). If I’ve just returned with a big bag of groceries, which I’ve deposited near the front door, each item will be carefully extracted, inspected, tasted, and then ferried to the kitchen, usually into the waiting hands of Amit or the cook. Grapes take a while to reach, and suffer a bit, being transported individually after having been brutally plucked off the stem.
The best sight is when Amit comes home from office and they wait for him to take off his boat-sized shoes so they can take them and put them away in the shoe cabinet. Some days they even drag his 25-kg computer case around to put away in the study.
Even the girl who comes to clean the house benefits from their activities as they delight in taking charge of the broom and brandishing it about six inches off the ground, which is pretty much what she does anyway.
But all of these are nothing compared to the great Put-It-Back Bonanza. About twice per waking hour – or more, if required – I get to stand and crack the whip (figuratively speaking) while the girls round up every last one of their toys and put them back in the designated boxes. Then they replace cushions and pillows, table mats and bibs, and sundry other bits of furniture and furnishing that have been misplaced and wound up quite far from their proper places. At the end of a comprehensive round of put-it-back, they get either a meal or a nap.
Another week or two, and I’ll have them making the coffee and perhaps frying sausages and popping the bread into the toaster while they’re at it. Child labor is great, I tell you.