1. Woke up at 3am both mornings to rescue the Twins from drowning in a sea of their own mucus, caused by a recent onslaught of sickness.
2. Wiped tiny noses every thirty seconds, literally working through six boxes of tissues.
3. Wiped tiny squirts of child cold medicine defiantly spat at me off my face every four to six hours.
4. Listened to my washing machine suddenly start playing dubstep mid-cycle, culminating in a crash and sudsy water pooling below it.
5. Helped my wife scour the Pseudonymous Family’s vast collection of receipts and instruction booklets for the washing machine’s warranty information, continually chasing down toddlers who took off running with unsearched piles, wiping their noses on them.
6. Worked during too-short naptimes and into the wee hours of the night on a National Science Foundation research grant proposal that is due Wednesday and nowhere near done.
7. Got my son to repeat “My Precious” several times after he woke up from a nap with a raspy, swollen-sinus voice that made him sound exactly like Gollum. Which made it all worth it.
“Hey… Wait a minute… Are they… twins?”
I cringed internally while sporting a winning fake smile.
No matter where we go or what we do, people continue to be intrigued by the novelty that is having twins.
I know I shouldn’t blame them. The realist in me reminds me that twins just aren’t something people see every day, so I do my best to cut them a little slack.
However, for some reason, my having twins automatically issues an invitation for a surprising majority of complete strangers to walk up to us, interrupt whatever we’re doing, and expect me to answer questions about my kids, as if I’m rolling a mobile freak show booth through the grocery store. “Ask me anything!” boasts a Jumbotron visible to everyone but me. “It’s not like I’m trying to figure out which aisle the bastard store manager moved the diapers to while my son throws Cheerios at my face or anything. No, seriously, I want nothing more than to make small talk right now with someone I will never see again while my daughter sits in the wet diaper I need to change as soon as I check out.”
Some of the most popular inquiries I receive during these impromptu press conferences include:
“Do they play together?” (No, although they live in the same house, have the same parents, and do everything together, they do not ever play together. In fact, I don’t even think they’ve met each other.)
“Do they have their own language?” (Yes. We call it English.)
“How far apart were they born?” (Just a few feet. It was in the same room.)
And, of course, my personal favorite:
“Are they identical?” (Please don’t make me explain to you why penises are not identical to vaginas.)
“Did you see that link I sent you today?” my wife inquired, placing a bottle of freshly-pumped breast milk in the fridge.
I looked up from the boob-funnels I was washing in the sink as bewildered as the seventh graders I’d stumped similarly all day, searching my exhausted mind for the answer. At four months old, the Twins were still rarely allowing us more than three hours of continuous slumber, making us bumbling idiots more often than not.
“I’m sorry, which link? Remind me.” Having vaguely drawn the line between today and other days in my sluggish mind, I could now narrow the possibilities to 3-4 links, as my wife sends me multitudes of information daily, ranging from infinitely fascinating to a notch above “waste of time,” but much more often the former.
“That stay-at-home dad article. From the newspaper.”
“Oh, right, that one. Yeah, I did.” Since our recent decision for me to quit teaching for stay-at-home fathering and Ph.D.-ing, my wife had taken to sending me SAHD resources during the workday, partly to show me there were lots of dads in my situation and partly (as I learned months later) because she was secretly terrified of me being in charge and was covertly boot-camping me up to snuff. This particular article was one of countless SAHD-penned rants about how when out in public during work hours, people don’t often understand why the kids are with their father, asking such intelligent questions as “Are you on vacation?”, “Where’s their mother?”, and even “Did you lose your job?”
“What’d you think?” my wife prodded.
“I don’t know. It was all right.” I gently adjusted the Baby Bjorn strap so as not to wake the napping son ornament on my chest. “I guess it was kind of funny, but not all that different from stuff already out there.”
“True,” she overemphasized, and fell silent.
Huh. That was weird. Where’s she going with this?
“You know,” she continued. “You could do better.”
In addition to my groundbreaking research on closet zombies and whatever sustainability is, my Ph. D. program has also provided the opportunity to learn computer programming–something I’ve wanted to do for years but never had the time or resources.
This has had to happen fairly quickly, as on the first day of the semester, one of my professors had my classmates and me each introduce ourselves along with our programming experience, since it would be a foundational element of the class. Having been awake since 3:15 am with my sick son, I’d just chugged two Venti coffees in order to be a functional human being, so as you can probably imagine I was already feeling incredibly chipper and eager to learn.
I grimaced as I listened to my colleagues’ alien technobabble:
“Most of my experience is in Java Frappuccino Monty Python Venom Script with Pirate Eyepatch Death Star Optimization Support.”
“I’ve dabbled in C-Minus-Plus-Ampersand Continuum Transfunctioners, but I’m most comfortable with Skynet Flux Capacitors.”
“I created the Allspark.”