Obsessed over Eggshells


Deirdre always wants to do all the things the big kids do, and help them
with whatever they’re doing. Unfortunately, her “help” is not always so
helpful. She’s at the stage where she knows enough to know what you’re supposed
to be doing, but can’t do it well enough to really be of help.

The other night
after supper, when we were washing and drying supper dishes, she came up to
Teman (who was washing), swinging her sippy cup in her hand. “Wash dis Temmy,”
she said. Then the next thing I knew she was saying to me, “Turn on, light!
Turn on, light!” and then toddling off to the dark bathroom to show me what she
was talking about.

“Why? What are you going to do?” I asked. You have to be
careful what you help Deirdre do, or you might be helping her get into
mischeif. She said she wanted to get a washcloth, and then I understood–she
was planning to help clear off the table, one of her favorite things to do.

“How ’bout we get you a tissue,” I said, because she had a runny nose. But she
didn’t want to be sidetracked from her task.

“How ’bout, get wash-wash!
(washcloth)” she retorted pointedly.

I got one for her, got it wet, and handed
it to her. She carefully shut the cabinet doors and toddled off with it to go
wipe off the table. She works hard to get what she needs to help.

She went on busily helping, taking care of anything she found. She
collected silverware and other things off the table to give to Teman to wash
and carried an egg carton over to me to put away.

Then she noticed the piles
and piles of eggshells on the table left from having scrambled eggs for supper.
You could just see her thinking, “Hmmm…what should I do with these?”

Before
she could get into them, I said, “Wait, Deirdre, let me get a container for you
to put them in, a measuring cup.” She knew that you were supposed to put
egg-shells in a measuring cup to microwave them. (We often microwave egg shells, crush them up, and feed them to the chickens. The microwaving and crushing is so that the chickens don’t recognize it and try to peck open their own eggs.) I went and got one, and told
her, “Put them all in here, and then we’ll microwave them.”

Now that she had a
job to do, she became very engrossed in piling all the eggshells into the
measuring cup. When she was done, she didn’t have to wait for me to tell her
what to do; she picked it up promptly, stood up, and stated her intention: “Mi’ wave it.”
(“Microwave it.”)

“Whoa! Deirdre! Don’t drop it!” I said. Normally you wouldn’t expect a
toddler to carry something glass all by herself. But she was holding it very
carefully, so I decided to let her (supervising her). I helped her to put it in the microwave and
press the buttons; it was very satisfying to her to do everything
herself. She watched it for a while as it microwaved, and then got bored
of it and ran off to do something else. I chased her into the living room and
played with her for awhile. When we were in the kitchen she ran away for a bit
toward the microwave, and then yelled out to me loudly,

“It beeped!”

(The microwave beeps when it’s done.) I went to check. “No, it didn’t
beep, you silly goose!” I said to her. She just assumed it was done. But then a
little while later, she cried “It beeped!” again (I think she might’ve just
liked saying that), and this time it really had.

She wanted to carry the
eggshells out herself, but I told her they were too hot. So she just toddled
after me as I carried them out and waited to see what to do next. I showed her how to break them up with a knife
or fork.

“I do it! I do it!” she exclaimed impatiently.

She grabbed the knife
first, because that’s what I did, and tried very hard to jab them, but it
didn’t work very well. Her little hands weren’t coordinated enough to make much
difference. So I picked one up and crushed it with my hands, knowing once she
saw me do it that way, she would too.

Immediately, she picked it up and crushed it with her fingers
too…and another one, and another one. She became completely absorbed in what she was doing,
sitting there on the chair that was too low down for her and reaching up to
smush eggshells with her fingers. Eggshells dropped down to the floor as
she went, unnoticed by her. The only thing that was important to her was making
sure that the next eggshell got crunched up.

I wasn’t paying much attention to
her, but then I suddenly noticed the eggshells on the floor. “Deirdre! Don’t
put them on the floor. Look, they’re all going on the floor,” I pointed out to
her. “Keep them on the table, okay?” I pulled her out of her reverie to
look down at all the eggshells, so she would understand what I meant.

“‘Kay,”
she responded, and went back to what she was doing.

By now she had most of them crushed, and she stood up on the chair to
fish around for any more she might find. Seeing as she was mostly done, I asked
her, “Do you want me to get you a container, Deirdre, to dump it in?”

“Yeah,” she said.

I helped her dump it into a container, and then she
had even more fun. Now it was easier to play with them, since
the container was wider, and she had fun swishing them around with her hands. Somewhere along the line, “business” (doing the job) had proceeded into
pleasure. But she was still very protective of them and didn’t want anyone else
to touch them. If some little kid came along and saw what fun she was having,
and tried to crush one too, she yelled indignantly, “Nooo! I doing it!!” Then
when just crunching them got too boring, she dumped some back out onto the
table, and into different containers on the table, and then back into the first
container again.

The end of this great fun was when she had to go to bed!