We have long noticed that Samuel is an organization freak. He knows where everything belongs and can get upset when things are not in their proper place.This trait is a blessing when it comes to getting him to clean up his toys. He has been doing this at our prompting–and enjoying it–since he was at least a year and a half old.
I remember one evening we were putting his toys away as a prelude to getting ready for bed, and some friends were over at our apartment. I was in Samuel's room telling him to bring me his toys from the living room, and one of our friends decided to help him. He collected a variety of small toys, put them in the bucket portion of Samuel's shape sorter toy, gave it to Samuel, and told him to take it to me. Samuel just stood there looking at him, and it took a bit of coaxing to get him to comply. When Samuel finally handed me the bucket, I understood his reluctance. A few of the items inside did not belong in Samuel's room; they were toys that we kept in a drawer in the living room. Samuel knew this and could not understand why he was being told to take them where they did not belong.
Now, at 25 months, when he's finished with a toy, he sometimes puts it away without me saying anything. When he's done with his bath, he usually drains the tub and puts all of his bath toys by himself. He has also become a surprisingly good little helper. One day several months ago I came into the kitchen with a double armload of dirty laundry to put in our front-loading washing machine. Not knowing if he would understand me or not, I said to Samuel, "Can you open the washing machine for Mommy?" He trotted right over and opened it for me! Today when we got home I said, "Oh, Mommy needs to use the potty!" He went straight to the toilet, turned on the light, and opened the door for me!
Given that he likes to put things where they belong and he likes to be helpful, his behavior yesterday was bizarre. While cooking lunch, I was referring to my favorite cookbook, which I had sitting open on the kitchen windowsill. When it was time for me to make dinner, I decided to use another recipe from this cookbook. Since I was pressed for time, it was the perfect meal. It was quick to prepare and used ingredients that I had on hand. There was just one problem: I couldn't find the cookbook. I immediately suspected that Samuel had something to do with its disappearance and started to look in all the places where I thought he might have put it. My search included the bookshelf in his bedroom, but my cookbook was nowhere to be found. I finally gave up and made banush, a Ukrainian version of grits and cheese, for dinner.
Later that evening, after Samuel was in bed, I carried an armload of dirty laundry into the kitchen. As I squatted down in front of the washer and opened the door, what should I see inside but my missing cookbook!
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