Perhaps a three-year-old thinks that anything an adult does must be interesting; or perhaps Alexander simply wants to do what an adult does, possibly with the idea that he would then be one and be able to do whatever he wants (including eating chocolate eggs all day long); or perhaps he simply wants to do everything and anthing, to experiment constantly.
Whatever his motivation Alexander’s urge to mop arose from spilling his coffee. He doesn’t drink coffee, but he likes to play with the coffee machine–as he likes to play with everything. Rather to his amazement, his messing about led to the machine producing a cup of coffee. He carried it off with pride–and spilled some of it. His first response was to ask for a cloth. I gave him one, and he wiped the floor.
But he knows that mopping often follows spillages, which are common these days. Without me initially grasping where he was headed, he went to the cupboard where we keep the mop. He began to try and get it out. I hesitated for a moment with visons of Granny saying that it was a bad idea to give a three-year-old a mop. But I helped him get it out, partly because at 7.55 in the morning I was already tiring of having to find new experiments every five minutes.
The mop is at least twice the height of Alexander, so manoeuvring it was not easy. Together we took it to the sink, and I put in a little water. Although Alexander would rather do everything on his own, we together dipped the mop in the water. Then came the crucial part. I knew that Alexander would not be able to squeeze most of the water from the mop, just as he hasn’t the strength to squeeze the juice from oranges and grapefruits. Luckily he accepted my help. We squeezed the mop as dry as we could.
He began, holding the mop about a quarter of the way up its handle, with mopping the spot where the coffee had fallen. Then, with no method, he began to mop around the kitchen, choosing any spot that appealed. I watched the top of the handle moving violently around the room, hoping that it wouldn’t catch anything. It didn’t.
Now he wanted more water. We squeezed again together, less successfully this time. He mopped some more floor and then, presumably feeling the water under his bare feet, went and put his slippers on. This led him to slip when he resumed mopping. For a moment he wondered about crying, but mopping was such fun the he leapt up and continued. He kept it up for at least three minutes.