I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this morning I dropped off the Twins for their first day of kindergarten.
Holy shit, you guys. Is this really happening?
Of course, I knew this day was coming, but that doesn’t lighten the blow of its actual arrival. It seems like just yesterday my son was calling me (or Chuck Norris) “Dada” for the first time, or my daughter was playing air guitar while breastfeeding, or my son was giving my wife a fecal soul patch, or my daughter was still sucking her thumb through thunderstorms and animatronic pirate encounters. But the timestamps are right there on photos and videos. There’s no arguing with the date I see on the calendar. Whether I want it to or not, time relentlessly sprints forward.
Five years ago, while reflecting on the first eight months of the Twins’ life, I wrote:
I’d prefer not to tritely say “They grow up so fast” (even though it’s SO true), so I hereby submit a far greater phrase for nation-sweeping candidacy: “They grow up faster than a Red-Bull-guzzling cheetah in a Lamborghini on the Autobahn with his pregnant, twin-carrying cheetah wife going into labor.”
Go ahead, picture that for a minute. Man. Now that’s fast.
As I read this today (and just barely remember writing it), I’d like to give my past self a high five because this just about nails it.
Here’s what really gets me. For the first three years of the Twins’ lives I was a stay-at-home dad, and for the remaining two and a half years I’ve worked from home. Aside from the fantastic childcare help we’ve gotten from my mother, sister-in-law, various preschools, and the rest of our “village,” I’ve pretty much been around the whole time. I’ve had more hours with the Twins than anyone else. Yet, now that they’re entering kindergarten, I still can’t help feeling like I “missed” stuff–that I somehow should have been around EVEN MORE. The rational part of me prescribes a chill pill, but the emotional side is like, “nuh-uh.”
Parent Guilt is a real thing, you guys. Continue reading
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.
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?”
Son: “Where’s my cuppy? Where’s my cuppy? Where. Is. My. Cuppy?!”
Me: “It’s right over here, Buddy. See? It has Lightning McQueen on it.”
Son: (beside himself) “No, not THAT one! I don’t LIKE Lightning The Queen!”
His camera bag full of miniature superheroes securely stowed on his shoulder, my son marched up to me in the kitchen and proclaimed: “Daddy, I’m going to college now. Bye!”
“College, huh?” I replied. “Okay, Buddy. Have fun!”
He gave me a nod and strode into the other room, college bound.
I’m not sure where he got this from–perhaps his Nina (my sister-in-law) who just started her second semester as an undergrad. Whatever the source, it was both hilarious and adorable at first. But then a poignant new layer seeped in.
I was reminded that this stage doesn’t last forever–that someday he actually will be leaving for college. In fact, because our family embarks on all great milestones in twos, my wife and I have been quietly dreading the emotional double-whammy of his sister and him both graduating high school, moving out, and starting college at the same time.
Believe me, the liquor cabinet will be more than adequately stocked.
1. Get into a fistfight over a Lego
2. Get into a fistfight over a sticker
3. Get into a fistfight over a toy we’ve bought two of so they won’t fistfight over it
4. Steal Daddy’s phone
5. Get into a fistfight over Daddy’s phone
6. Reply to emails from Daddy’s dissertation chair with gibberish
7. Break something, causing a fistfight
8. Break something, during a fistfight
9. Climb onto the kitchen table
10. Go streaking
11. Dump out the dog’s water dish and claim to be ice-skating
12. Empty the toybox I just spent a half hour filling while they sat on their asses singing “Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere” and contributed a single toy between the two of them