Naming the Guppy

Bubble Guppies

Me: Hey sweetie, if The Baby in Mommy’s Tummy is a girl, what do you think we should name her?

Daughter: Bubble Guppy.

Me: Like, one of the characters’ names on Bubble Guppies? Like Oona, or Deema?

Daughter: No. Just Bubble Guppy.

Me: Okay, what if it’s a boy?

Daughter: Bubble Guppy Boy.

Me: Well, that settles that.

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Ruh-Roh! (The Pee-Pee Prophecy)

I took a deep breath as I plopped onto the couch. It had been a marathon day for our family, kicking off with a frantic search for the baskets of goodies the Easter Bunny had hidden for the Twins in the living room the night before, followed by church, a breakfast/Easter egg hunt at my in-laws’, a lunch/extended hangout at my parents’ house (which also included my in-laws), and an epic, multi-generational game of Spoons resulting in literal bloodshed for several family members.

Demolished Easter Basket

Yeah, that’s right. I’m writing about Easter Sunday 2014, which I realize was three months ago, but there’s a reason for that. Let me do my thing here and I promise I’ll get there. Cool? Cool.

We’d just gotten back home from the festivities at about four in the afternoon. My daughter, who had fallen into a post-candy coma in the car, was still passed out on the couch, while my son was assessing his toy/sweets inventory on the living room floor, unpacking his three Easter baskets (yes, the Easter Bunny visited both grandparents’ houses, too) and lining up his loot.

I am not a napper, but after the day we’d had out in the Arizona heat, I was just about to nod off when the silence was broken.

Very dramatically.

“JOHN!!!”

It was my wife. I’ll admit that my initial reaction was annoyance because she’d used her Desperately Important Tone of Voice, which is usually reserved for Dire Emergencies, like when it is critical that I retrieve a box of her scarves I did not even know existed from the top shelf of our closet, or when a bug that was “crawling across the floor, trying to eat her” turns out to be a ball of lint. You know, the heavy shit.

Sighing lazily, I rose from the couch. “I’ll be right back, Buddy,” I told my son.

“Okay, Daddy,” he said, eyes still on his gear. “I’m just going to sit here and line up all of the things that the Easter Bunny brought me because I got a lot of things and I’m putting them in a line so I can see the ones that I have and then I’m going to play wiff them.”

“Sounds good, Buddy.”

I headed into our bedroom, ready to be underwhelmed by my wife’s latest “crisis.” But when I saw her standing in the bathroom with ET-sized eyes, I knew right away that something was different. This might actually be A Big Deal.

"E.T. phone husband."

“E.T. phone husband.”

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What Just Happened?

“Hey, Daddy!” called my son, strutting into the kitchen while I was stirring a pot of pasta on the stove for dinner. “Do you want to play a game wiff me?”

“Sure, Buddy,” I replied, putting down the spoon. “What game should we play?”

Lately everything I play with him is a “game.” My personal favorite is “Which One Is Loud?”—a game in which Daddy is presented with a host of toy animals and must choose which of the animals is the loudest. Once a champion is named, next comes the second loudest, the third loudest, and so on, until all animals have been properly ranked in decreasing decibel order. In the early rounds, I always find it particularly challenging to decide between a lion’s roar or tiger’s roar, and then later, between a sea turtle and a goldfish. (I guess the turtle splashes louder?) As the Final Judge of Loudness, my son often illogically overrules my decisions—sometimes claiming a shark is louder than an elephant—but as he is the creator of “Which One Is Loud?” I must respect his authority.

Yeah, I choose my battles.

. . .

My son wasted no time and gave me my first game instruction.

“Roar like a lion!”

I happily and enthusiastically obliged. “Raaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwhhh!” Was this game a derivative of “Which One Is Loud?”

“Okay, Buddy,” I said. “Now what?”

“Zoom like a car!”

“Vvvvvvrrrrrrrrrrooooooooooommmmm!” I was actually pretty proud of this one. I even did a little vibrato at the end to create an idling engine effect. Surely I was winning the game. “Okay, what’s next?”

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The Stay-At-Homestretch

My family’s kajillionth listen of Idina Menzel’s “Let It Go” was suddenly interrupted by the ringing of my cell phone on the car’s Bluetooth. This did not faze the Twins, who just kept on singing, reminding their audience that the cold never bothered them anyway. My wife and I had just picked them up from school, and like most school days, they’d gotten a fresh jolt of energy during the drive home, proceeding to uncontrollably kick the front seats and belt out lyrics with absolutely no regard for the melody or their mother’s migraine.

Disney's Frozen - Elsa

It was super cute the first 500 times.

Without even looking at the caller ID, I answered. Typically my mother calls us on our drive home to see how the Twins’ day at school was. They’ve been attending semi-sporadically since the summer of last year, but as my PhD work has gotten increasingly demanding with each passing semester, we’ve slowly been increasing their weekly amount of school days. (And yes, I’m calling it “school” for a reason. This place has a big-kid curriculum, individualized learning goals for each kid, and even parent-teacher conferences. It is decidedly not a “daycare.”)

As you may remember, for most of the time I’ve spent on campus to do my doctoral work, my mother has very graciously taken care of the Dynamic Duo. However, due to some other important family commitments (which are beyond the scope of this Twincident), she’s been in and out of town, prompting us to seek other (tragically not-for-free) care options for the kids. The transition hasn’t always been easy, with several month-long plagues of sickness throwing off any weekly routine we hoped to establish, sometimes resulting in tearful toddlers at the morning drop-off, but lately, we’ve finally, finally, FINALLY found a groove.

And so whether she’s here in town, hunting Chupacabras in the Mexican wilderness, or scaling Mt. Everest to destroy the Eighth Horcrux, my mom calls us nearly every school day on our way home to see how the Twins’ day was, partly because she really and truly wants them to do well and partly (I’m guessing) because she misses them and wishes she could see them more often.

But when I answered the phone, I found that it wasn’t my mom after all.

“Hello?” I barked casually.

“Hi, I’m looking for John?” said an unfamiliar female voice, cranked to 11 on the car stereo while the kids were still screaming Frozen lyrics.

“Yes,” I called, clawing for my phone in my pocket to turn off the Bluetooth. “This is John.”

“Hi John, I’m calling about the position you interviewed for yesterday.” She hesitated for a moment, assumedly due to the stereophonic pixie voices booming, “I don’t caaaaare what they’re goooing to saaaaay!” Then, she continued. “Is this a good time to talk?”

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