As I sat on the living room sofa one day last week, I could hear the unmistakable clatter of several somethings hitting my kitchen sink.

"What are you doing?" I yelled, as I got up from the couch.

My daughter answered with some words I couldn't understand and then the noise begin again.

"What are you doing?" I asked again.

I got to the kitchen just in time to see one of my ceramic salad plates crash into a pile of cups, bowls and utensils in the sink. My daughter had hurled it up there with one hand; with the other, she was holding a towel. "I'm going to do the dishes."

"Thank you," I said, "but I'll take care of them later." Then I ushered her back into the living room.

Even if she had broken my every one of my best plates, I couldn't have gotten mad at her. I like when she tries to help. I have no doubt, though, that she knows just as well as I do that she is not yet old enough to do the dishes.

I also know that once she, she won't be feeling so helpful anymore.

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