Today was library day, which meant the weekly household ritual of Searching for the Library Books. (I swear, library books multiply like rabbits the minute we get them home, and then proceed to bounce away like rabbits to the farthest nether-regions of our house. Since having kids, I don't think I have gone to the library without uttering the phrase "yeah, go ahead and just renew it, we're still looking for that one.") There was one particular book that was eluding us, and as we ripped apart the living room looking for it, Joshua and Anna started to get snippy with one another. The bickering finally got to a breaking point, and I called a halt to the search party in order to sit them down and talk to them about how we speak to one another.
As I called the two older ones over to me, Matthew perked up his tiny little 17-month old ears. He immediately recognized "that tone" in my voice and realized his siblings were getting in trouble. While I was having my talk with the older two, I noticed him toddling over to the time-out chair and picking it up. I didn't think much of it at the time - one of Matthew's favorite pastimes is rearranging the furniture. However, as we were wrapping up our "speak nice words to each other" session, he brought the chair over and sat it firmly behind Anna.
Being a slow, tired mom, I didn't catch on to what he was doing until he put his muscular little linebacker arm around Anna and tried to force her to sit in the chair. Then it hit me:
He was trying to put her in timeout.
Not in a malicious, "ha-ha you're in trouble!" kind of way. No, this was a "I know what's going on, thought I'd give you a hand" kind of move. He wasn't laughing or smirking mischievously - and believe me, this is a kid who knows how! He had just observed the situation, assessed it for needs, and done what he needed to do. His little engineer instinct took over. He was just trying to help.
And he looked massively confused when, laughing, I explained that no one was in time out and thanked him for the chair. He took another stab at putting his sister in the chair, gave me a look when I said "No," shrugged his little shoulders and went on to the next project.
Where would I be without all my little helpers?