Doing the dishes

Four-year-olds can learn to dry up. We suggest positioning a chair, with a towel on its seat, by the sink; the child dries up over the top of this in case they drop crockery.

Start them with saucepans, spoons, plastic utensils, bowls and so on, working up to flat plates which can be placed on the towel-covered seat, wiped, turned over and wiped again. Over the age of five, they can start on glasses and, using our special patting method, knives: place knife on the towelled chair, make a ball with your teatowel and pat the knife dry with the ball-shaped towel. Turn the knife over by the handle and do the other side. (Of course, you will need to stick around to supervise.)

A tired mum had just got her two toddlers and a baby to lie down for a rest and was horrified to see, through her front window, the approach of Mrs Maloney. She just didn’t want to talk to this long-winded but kindly old neighbour today. So she whispered to the oldest child who was still awake, ‘Shhh, be quiet and go to sleep.’ When Mrs Maloney returned later that day, the four-year-old bounced up to her and announced: ‘We hid from you before!’

Everyone has stories like these.. .A new child at school was being introduced to his class. Asked where he was from, he said ‘London’. ‘And what work does your father do?’ (A foolish question at the best of times.) ‘Oh, he’s into drugs.’

A four-year-old asked his grandma at Sunday lunch: ‘Is your neck better now, Gran?’ ‘Why?’ asked the old lady, as the parents stiffened visibly. ‘Dad said this morning you had a pain in the neck.’ Or something like that…