She also learned that mothers will get really upset if you show company where she hid all the junk that used to be on the kitchen counter just before they arrived.
When Celeste was 9, I learned I could take advantage of her competitive streak and get housework done at the same time by setting a timer and betting her that she couldn't finish a certain chore before it went off.
I also learned that when a competitive child is in a hurry to get the kitchen floor shiny clean, but she can't find the Mop & Glo, she might consider Pledge an adequate substitute.
Sometime early in her 10th year, I learned the importance of making certain a child who has been asked to load and start the dishwasher understands the difference between Cascade and ordinary Dawn dish detergent. (Although I also learned that several feet of Dawn suds can remove the residual Pledge ice-rink effect on the floor.)
Age 11 was a fairly calm, quiet year, and as the days dwindled down before she turned 12, I was struggling to come up with even one lesson to add to my list.
Until the answer appeared right at my feet.
Unfortunately, my feet were going down the stairs in the dark at the time. And Celeste had left a stack of newly purchased school supplies on the stairs, intending to carry them up. She just hadn't yet. Despite numerous trips up and down.
Resulting in my trip down those last few stairs being on my backside.
That children can be a real pain in the butt.
Reach Karin Fuller at karinful...@cnpapers.com.