The boy has developed a passion for housework – and is the busiest little butler in Hackney

Story Highlights

  • Since my son started to walk, our flat is looking strangely tidy

Now that my son is properly walking, some unexpected benefits have emerged. For one thing, he’s easier to entertain. Seen from a vantage point just 8in higher than that he knew before, our small flat is now strangely new to him. Like a friend who’s arrived too early at a housewarming, he expresses dumbfounded glee at every boring little thing. ‘Oh wow,’ he seems to say at each tabletop, shelf and arm rest now within his eyeline. ‘I just love what you’ve done with the place.’

What I hadn’t expected, however, was another quirk of his pedestrianism – a dizzying new desire to help out around the house. He walks around with his hands behind his back, in the manner of a health inspector at a primary school. Sometimes all he wants is to grab a shoe and place it in the small basket we keep near the door for that very purpose. Never mind that he will invariably take another shoe with him on his return, before traipsing back to store that as well – the sentiment is there.

But his true passion is for wet wipes, specifically placing them in the pristine little nappy bin by the hall, which wraps anything placed in it in sterilising material and whisks it away out of sight. This is a process he is willing to repeat ad nauseam. We were originally worried that ‘ad nauseam’ would here prove literal, loudly crying ‘Dirty!’ any time he touched the thing. It may be spotless, we reckoned, but it is, at root, a receptacle of human waste.

There have been other, more significant milestones in his life, but I don’t think any have pleased me as much

He was, of course, undeterred, repeating his task with ever greater frequency, only now while shouting ‘Dirty!’ to himself with the glee of a rugby announcer declaring a try. Knowing we couldn’t dissuade him, we simply resigned ourselves to the practice, cleaning the bin with such ferocity you could eat off it, and left him to prosper as the busiest little butler in Hackney.

There are tangible benefits. It teaches him co-ordination and gives him satisfaction. It also uses up time that would otherwise be spent getting up to mischief, channelling his energy into cleaning up mess instead. These are, in fairness, messes of which he is the primary cause.

There have been other, more significant milestones in his life, but I don’t think any have pleased me like watching him tidy up after himself. Actually, scratch that. Better still is when he cleans up after me. Having first tested his skills by dropping each wipe I used to clean his hands, and seeing if he would take care of it for me, I found myself strangely addicted and embarked on a delighted campaign of deliberate littering that, I must admit, I’ve been enjoying.

Who knows how long this odd little hobby will persist, but I’m making the most of it in the mean time. Opportunities for lazy parenting don’t come along too often. I won’t put this one to waste.

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