Daughter: Daddy, what are doze?
Me: Those are manatees.
Daughter: Oooooooh! Look at the man-tits!
“Are you done yet?” my wife groaned.
It was almost 11pm on a Saturday and I’d been working non-stop since breakfast. I could tell she was getting annoyed with me, but I was almost done with my final read-through.
This was Day 1 of The 3-Day Great Comprehensive Exam-A-Thon that would be my weekend. See, near the end of a Ph.D. program, they have you take an exam relevant to your field of study that’s reviewed by faculty in your department who basically decide if you’re competent enough to start the final stage of your program–the dreaded dissertation. Sometimes it involves a major project done over the course of a few weeks, and other times the student is essentially locked in a room for several consecutive days to cuss at bubble sheets and essay response booklets. In my case, I was handed about a 90-page packet (not an exaggeration) which provided directions and resources for writing four different papers–each of which was to be 6-8 pages long, due in four days.
Fortunately, these four days started on a Friday and I was allowed to complete the exam from the comfort of my own home. Unfortunately, I have twin two-year-olds in my own home, who, from the moment I enter to the moment they collapse in their beds, shout spirited requests of me. Here are some of their greatest hits:
“Daddy! Sit down dare. Read book-y.”
“More juicy! Pleaseokaythankyou! Apple juicy. Yesokay!”
(performed melodramatically by my son, hanging from one monkey-hand on the pantry doorknob, usually fifteen minutes after refusing to eat a single bite for dinner)
Since I barely had any work time on Friday, I was hitting it hard on Saturday, and decided that while I was still fresh, I’d hammer out two of the four papers, leaving the remaining two for Sunday and Monday. My wife was incredibly supportive, taking the kids out for the day while I pounded coffee to a soundtrack alternating between death metal and utter silence, my fingers furiously pecking at the keyboard.
It hadn’t been pretty, but I was now finally finally finally closing in on my goal for the day. Still planted in my seat at the kitchen table, I was looking over Paper 2 for any final edits when my wife, who was in our bedroom watching tv, suddenly became strangely persistent.
As I finished rinsing off in the shower (feel free to imagine me with a six-pack instead of the slight gut I’ve developed from drinking them), my son requested one last drawing on the shower’s fogged-up glass walls. “‘Nother one, Daddy. Happy star.”
This is our new fun thing we do when Daddy showers–I take drawing requests while he stands on the other side of the glass, giddily retracing them with his fingers and going apeshit crazy if Daddy doesn’t draw a new one at least every thirty seconds. This, of course, extends my already-too-leisurely-for-my-wife’s-taste showering time. (See, I like to ease into my morning by staring blankly into space for ten minutes until I remember, Oh right, I’m in the shower and should probably get started on the whole cleaning thing.) And I’m sure she very much enjoys being the bad guy and reminding the two little boys in her life to stop goofing around with shower-wall artwork because we’re already running late. (Love you, babe!)
However, on this particular morning there was plenty of time for happy stars because my wife had left to run errands with my daughter, giving me a rare opportunity for some father-son quality time. Sure, I get to spend plenty of time with my kids since I’m home with them for half of the week, but 99% of that is with both competing for my attention. Seldom is anything ever all about one of my kids, and a lot of the time I’m reacting to whoever’s more cranky, hungry, or likely to climb a high chair and cannonball into the kitchen tile. That’s why my wife and I make an effort to split up and spend some one-on-one time with each of them.
It’s always such a blast. Every time, I notice new things about whichever kid I’m with–new words they’ve learned, nuances about their personalities–things that are harder to pick up on when I’m splitting my attention between them. And it’s during these times that I realize how quickly they’re growing into two independent, very different little people.
I’ll admit it–my wife and I have been putting off potty training. It’s not that we’re against the idea–we’re pretty psyched about not having to spend literally $100 a month on Costco-sized diapers for two little asses and are over the whole diaper-changing/alligator-wrestling ordeal. It’s just that we have a psychotically busy April and are just trying to make it through the month before we hit the potties hard. In preparation for this next chapter of parenthood, I’ve enlisted the help of Kristin Myers, a veteran mother of twins who has recently featured me on her blog and just released a new book titled Twin Turbulence. (Guess what it’s about!) In this guest post, she offers tips to aspiring parents of potty-trained twins which stand to benefit those of us about to enter the cold tile floor battlefield. Enjoy!
The Top 10 Most Unglamorous Tips for Potty Training Twins
1. Set a timer to remind yourself to put them on the potty. A potty-trained parent is a potty-trained set of twins. Be prepared: You will become very familiar with the hard surface of your bathroom floor as you will the excretory magic to happen with your parental super powers. Do not be above bribery. M & M’s are great incentives. So are Post Potty Parties – obnoxious songs and dances to appropriately celebrate Number 1 or Number 2 after they occur, of course. (A premature party can startle them mid-stream, either creating quite a mess or the need to start all over.)
2. Do not be fooled by anatomy. Both boys and girls need help learning how to squirt down! You do not want to learn this the hard way while sitting on the floor in front of them. Just saying…
3. You’ll want to be present as the action is happening. Otherwise they’ll “help” each other wipe and clean up. This rarely ends well. Imagine two 2-year-olds trying to dump the contents of the kid potty into the grown-up potty. Not good. In addition, twins can exhaust a roll of toilet paper faster than a puppy dragging the roll through the house. And when they’re done? It’s great fun to stuff it all in the toilet to see just how many flushes (or floods) it will take to make it disappear!
4. When at home, twin bare-bottoms become more commonplace than pants. You don’t mean for this to happen, but it does. Grandparents will more than likely be offended and fight the uphill battle during visits. Just ignore them.
5. If you let your boy pee on a tree even once, I guarantee your daughter will feel the need to demonstrate her vertical stream as well when you least expect it. Like in the park. On the great big tree in front of all your friends. It’s a very uncomfortable moment. Trust me. Read the rest of this entry
“You don’t have an Easter bonnet for her?” my mother gasped.
My wife had just unveiled the dress she’d bought our daughter to wear for Easter, but apparently it was an incomplete ensemble. “Um, no?” my wife replied, confused.
“But how can she go to church on Eater Sunday without an Easter bonnet?”
Something my wife did not learn until this Easter is the importance my mother places on the little girls in our family having bonnets to accompany their dresses on Easter Sunday. Growing up with two younger sisters, I remember it being the biggest effing deal every year for them to find the perfect hats for their outfits, because my dad and I would wait for my mom and sisters outside of every damn clothing store in the mall, wondering what the hell was taking them so long, often ditching them to buy me a couple of packs of baseball cards. (Thanks, Dad!)
“Well,” my mother smiled. ” Don’t worry. I’ll find her a bonnet.”
We weren’t worried, Mom.
With all that my wife and I have going on (and the knowledge that no hat stays on my daughter’s head for longer than five minutes anyway), our feeling was, Sure, if it will make your heart sing to get her a bonnet, knock yourself out.
Sure enough, a day or two later, when we were picking up the kids from her house, my mother presented us with a pinkish-purple bonnet she boasted to have found at our local “everything-costs-one-dollar” store, a place she now swears by as THE place to find fun toys, stickers, and holiday favors for the Twins without breaking the bank.
We had to admit, the bonnet was pretty darn adorable, so it was settled–our daughter now had an Easter bonnet and my mother would finally be able to sleep at night again.