Today I brought The Boss with me into the basement. We stepped over puddles that would send any other homeowner running to the nearest sump pump dealer, only to find out there ain't nothing that will keep a 200+ year old house dry. The Boss wobbled her way along the edges of the trench that ran the entire perimeter of the foundation. There was the thin sound of water in a skinny stream. We stopped at the washing machine.
I was pleased to find that The Boss is shaping up to be the housekeeper I never was. "Here," I said, handing her a sock. "Will you please help mama do the laundry?"
She took the sock. "Thank you," she said. Then she threw it through the front loading portal.
I handed her a tee shirt.
"Thank you." In it went.
Another sock. "Thank you."
A pair of boxers. "Thank you."
Another "thank you" and she was tangled up in one of her father's shirts. While she tried to extricate herself from the armpit stains, I snuck the rest of the load into the basin. I marveled at this girl of mine, who has been saying "thank you" in all the right places since before she was a year old. Amidst unexceptional motor skills and an average vocabulary, it is her manners that stand out.
I can't claim any responsibility for this whatsoever. Not because I am an innate ingrate, but because I know my mother was the one who taught this to her. I dropped her off one weekend at nana and poppy's house when she was about ten months old to find a changed girl upon my return. Though she couldn't walk or indulge in a conversation that didn't involve "da," "dog," or "gak," she would accept the cup from your hand with a "thank you." Then she would sip from it, exhaling with that audible sigh of quenched thirst when she was through. If you gave her food, she'd say "mmmmm."
All these were things nana taught her. From me, she got nothing. No tricks to whip out at a party. No sweet gestures that make others giggle at her gratitude.
It's a sad realization that I must not play with her enough. I don't test her imagination and her intellect with every interaction. Of course, I don't do a lot of things that grandparents know how to do, being that they're generations deep into parenthood and I'm just starting out. Being that they have time and memory. Being that they can send the kid home when they're done.
I know I have to cut myself some slack. But I also have to remember something:
It's not just The Boss who has a lot of learning to do.