It was early in the morning and since Mommy had just left for work, it was time for Daddy to take the stage for my daily variety show. Although I’ve been known to perform intimate acoustic Disney-song concerts, reproduce Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” on the Magna Doodle, and even regularly scare the robotic tigers my son has imagined into existence back into “other houses, but not this house,” I was feeling especially wiped out on this particular morning. The Twins had just gotten over a nasty cold, and had so generously shared it with me, so as I sleepily hacked up a lung, I decided I needed a power-up and fired up our Keurig (arguably the best purchase we have made as new parents). And yes, I realize that coffee is not a fantastic idea when one has a cold, as it discourages hydration, but when one is accustomed to caffeine every morning, one is inclined to not pile the withdrawal headache on top of fiery sinuses and a gravelly throat. So there.
“Daddy?” my daughter half-whined. “You come play in my room?”
This is a new fun game I play with my daughter. She recently has become enamored with the novelty of playing with all of her toys with Daddy in her room. So much so, in fact, that every moment of every day I am home with them, my presence is requested in her room.
This, of course, would be fine if I didn’t have another child who expects an equal amount of Daddy’s attention. But I do, and there are times when I’m in the middle of building a perfectly-scaled replica of Mount Rushmore with Duplos with my son, or helping him line up his beloved “sea treatures” on the floor by species, and can’t just drop everything to “go play in her room.”
And so I tell her “No,” invariably triggering a hissy fit which lasts way longer than it needs to. In fact, just the other day, I was rocking The Beatles’ Help! on vinyl at my son’s request (yeah, he’s pretty awesome), and in the middle of the opening title track, my little girl invited me to play in her room. After I explained that Daddy and Brother were busy doing Awesome Things, she staged a very vocal protest spanning almost all of Side A. On a side-note, my resilient son didn’t let the screaming infringe upon his Beatlemania, and he just kept literally dancing circles around his sister as she kicked and punched the floor.
My wife’s employer graciously allows her to work from home one day a week so she’s able to spend more time with the Twins, and although she’s asking them not to slam on her laptop’s keyboard for a good portion of the day, it’s better than not seeing them for most of the day. However, because she’s not home very often, we’ve noticed that when she is home, the Twins tend to be way more whiny than usual. Apparently, this is a thing with moms and kids–that kids act more needy around Mom than with Dad–as many of my wife’s friends with kids have reported the same phenomenon. I have to say, I feel fortunate to be the one they “man up” with instead of the one they cling to and whine at every five minutes.
This week, Mommy’s work-from-home day was especially challenging in the whining department, and once the kids were in bed for the night and we’d poured ourselves some wine, she offered a particularly eloquent reflection on the last 14 hours:
“I love being home with my kids. Except for when they drive me bananas.”
— My Wife
It still feels strange to say this, but the Twins have started school.
While I have no doubt in my mind that my little geniuses could already slaughter Doogie Howser at Jeopardy (it would be legen–wait for it–dary), this first foray into the academic world is not related to their obviously high cognitive abilities, but instead an opportunity to begin their formal education early. You see, while they were still chillaxing in their mother’s uterine jacuzzi, we got them on the lengthy waiting list for a fairly exclusive toddler class conveniently held on my college’s campus, and we’d watched them slowly climb their way to the top ever since.
Thus, as the new school year approached, the all-important question as to whether they would be granted access to the program hung in the air like the faint, gaseous remnants of a diaper blowout. Our hopes high, we gathered with the other families in our District who had children on the waiting list for a public announcement of the class’s new students. As the odd, eccentric university spokeswoman took the stage, the tension was so thick that it needed to cut carbohydrates from its diet.
But as luck would have it, our progeny were both selected, punctuated by thumbs-up-shaped balloons falling from the rafters and commemorative t-shirts emblazoned with bow-wearing stick figures being shot into the masses. The Twins had been chosen!
My daughter spiked her half-eaten apple on the floor like a football, slid her Sippy Cup off the high-chair tray as if it were a shuffleboard, and with finality, proclaimed, “Duh!”
I don’t remember which loinfruit introduced it or when, but for anyone under the age of two in our household, this has become the customary Closing Ceremonies for a meal, for alerting one’s parents that the eater is “Done.”
Looking up from dinner’s dirty dishes in the sink, I watched my wife release my daughter from the clutches of her high chair, pick her up, and bravely walk our kitchen’s version of The Green Mile–past an old bookshelf we’ve converted into a snack shelf (Pantry 2: This Time It’s Personal, if you will). Although our children claim to be “duh” with their food, as soon as we de-high-chair them they often notice Pantry 2 items that were not on that meal’s menu–morsels they must receive promptly if the parent on duty wishes to avoid a brilliantly-executed tantrum.
While they’ve learned many words so far, there are still a sizable amount of items for which the Twins still use the caveman-style point-and-grunt method, and on this particular day, my daughter’s finger shot out instantly at her target. Unfortunately for my wife, she did not leave enough distance between my daughter’s ninja arm and the shelf, and before we knew it, our daughter had snatched the entire bag of miniature Sun-Maid Raisin boxes.
This snack is popular with the Twins not because they are particularly fond of raisins, but because they absolutely adore having their own little boxes to carry them in. We have scientific proof of this phenomenon, as whenever my mother offers the Twins unboxed raisins at her house, they look at her like she’s nuts, as if to say, “What is this sh!t? Where’s my f*cking box?”
“Ooooh! OohOohOooooooh!” my daughter enthused, waiting for my wife to open her a box.
My daughter hooked her arm securely around mine as I held her at my hip–a cripplingly cute mannerism of hers that melts me to my core every single time.
Vocalizing airplane sound effects, I made an extravagant production of swooping my giggling passenger down to the floor to pick up each member of the Hundred Acre Wood institutionalized as her Bedtime Crew, currently featuring Piglet (her go-to daytime stuffty) as well as Winnie the Pooh and Tigger (the night-shift support staff who allow for optimal snugglization).
Her teeth brushed and hands washed, she knew we were coming up on bedtime and began her nightly wind-down ritual: gripping Piglet and Company, sticking her beloved right thumb in her mouth, and embracing day’s end with open arms and heavy eyelids.
Our son, however–currently in his mother’s arms–was performing his own nightly routine: maniacal arm-flails punctuated by Oscar-worthy whines. Never ready to pack it in, he’ll dash for the playroom or point at the turned-off tv in a last-ditch effort to stay up just a little longer, to milk as much out of the day as possible. There are still so many blocks to stack, so many books to read, so many Sing-Along Songs to groove to.
And while his unrelenting desire to be awake can be burdensome, I don’t ever fault him for it.
He gets it from me.