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?”
“Say ‘Map!’ Say ‘Map!'” Dora and Boots demanded, as if my family’s life depended on succumbing to their bilingual bullying and pretending to interact with cartoon characters we know can’t really hear us.
Seriously, Dora. Even my two-year-olds know that no matter how loudly you order us around and no matter much we ignore you, you’re still going to pull out that Map.
We know this because we can count on The Map performing a little ditty for us introducing himself roughly 500 times–you know, just in case the rolled-up piece of paper and landmarks all over it aren’t already a dead giveaway.
For my entire Dora the Explorer viewership (about a year now), I have despised this obnoxious piece of parchment, and for a while even began singing along with him using my own lyrics: “Make it stop. Make it stop, make it stop, make it stooop…”
But recently, this has all changed because the Twins have learned his song. Suddenly it went from the World’s Most Annoying Song to Just About The Cutest Thing Ever. My daughter in particular gets it stuck in her head throughout the day and busts it out while eating lunch, building puzzles, and even while sprawled out in her crib, just before falling asleep for her nap.
And so on this particular night, as The Map revealed himself onscreen, my daughter was right with him in her little pixie voice: “I na map. I na map, I na map, I na maaap.”
I’ll admit I’d just finished my second glass of wine at this point. We don’t typically crack Mommy and Daddy’s Special Juice before the kids are in bed, but it was Friday night and we’d had an especially long week, so we figured we’d get the party started a little early.
Sufficiently buzzed and succumbing to the crippling cuteness of my daughter’s singing voice, I thought I’d bury the hatchet with The Map once and for all and sing along with my daughter and my former navigational nemesis.
I looked up at the screen and began. “I’m the map, I’m the…”
And that’s when it hit me. Continue reading
Sprawled out on my back amidst the Duplos, Thomas train tracks, and Fisher Price Little People that frequent the playroom floor, my daughter snaps me out of a momentary spaceout.
Grunting, I sit up groggily to field her request. Although my wife had worked from home today, it hadn’t been any less exhausting keeping the kids occupied and quiet while she ran in and out of the room with her cell phone and laptop, straining to hear her conference calls over squawks and shrieks for juice and raisins. On this particular night, my wife had a work dinner event to attend, leaving me in charge of the day’s Closing Ceremonies with the Dynamic Duo.
“What’s up, Baby Girl?” I ask my daughter.
The pigtails she’d dismantled the moment Mommy left poked frizzily from either side of her head, totally undermining her deadly serious demeanor. “Snowman,” she insists. “All gone.”
“That’s right, Baby,” I chuckle. “The snowman’s all gone. But he’ll be back on Christmas Day.” One of our Christmas decorations is a snowman that hangs from the front doorknob. She’d taken note of it during the holiday season and every day since we’ve taken it down, she’s reminded us that it’s missing–even now, almost two months after Christmas.
And every time she does this, she blows my mind.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but we recently celebrated the Twins’ Second Birthday, and ever since the 1st of the year, the Twins have been making cognitive leaps and bounds daily. It’s as if their neurons have all finally joined Facebook and are friending each other. Their abilities to imagine, remember, reason, and verbalize have kicked into overdrive.
My daughter breaks into a beaming, jack-o’-lantern smile and giggles, “Snowman all gone,” thrilled that Daddy has confirmed what she already knew was right.
Noticing the clock, I rise to my feet and bellow, “Okay, kids! Bath time!” Continue reading