The warm water ran down my back, washing away 36 hours of sweat and grime. I systematically defunkified each of my body’s nether regions with my extremely manly loofah and inhaled the warm, misty scent of my 2-in-1 shampoo.
It was beautiful.
You should have been there. (But it’s probably for the best that you weren’t, because I was naked and that would have been awkward for you, due to the devastatingly chiseled one-pack bulging from my abs.)
As a parent of twins, I’ve grown to truly appreciate the quiet, reflective alone time a shower buys me, and twelve days into being a parent of three, I was absolutely loving the opportunity to finally hear myself think for five freaking seconds.
As you can probably imagine, adding a newborn to the mix has turned the Pseudonymous household into even more of a zoo than it already was. My wife and I settled on fielding the incessant requests for Lego-building assistance and “another snack after diss one” from the Twins as our “new normal” about a year ago, but we’ve added some new floors to our funhouse with Baby Number Three. On top of our typical twinherding duties, my wife (who is also monumentally wiped out from breastfeeding) and I now also spend our days attempting to get our new addition on a suitable feeding/sleeping/not crying schedule–all the while shushing the Twins like two shaven Grinches as they excitedly play with their noisy new Christmas toys two inches from their slumbering sister.
Our meals consist of shoving granola bars and fast food into our faces the moment the opportunity arises, and while we fully intend to shower daily, it doesn’t always pan out.
Now, as I’m sure many parents will agree with, none of this is all that difficult when you’re well-rested, but when you have a newborn, the concept of “well-rested” becomes your own personal Everest. I think my wife’s Ob-Gyn at the hospital put it best as we were getting discharged: “I’m sure you guys already know what you’re in for, but sleep deprivation is literally used to torture prisoners. Sleep when you can, and get all the help you can to make that happen.”
And we have had help–both my family and my wife’s have kicked SO much ass. But still, at some point, our help has to go home…
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?”
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
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.
Aside from the classic catch phrases “no” and “I don’t want to,” there are few words I hear from the Twins more often than “snack.”
It doesn’t matter what time of day it is or even if they’ve just finished a meal–if they’re awake, it’s snack time. In fact, it is not uncommon for either of them to scowl for 20 minutes at the meal we’ve prepared them–adamantly refusing to take even one bite–and to then make a beeline for the pantry door as soon as we let them down from their high chairs.
They each have their preferred methods for snack requests. My son, for example, likes to hang a single hand from the doorknob like a shaven ape and ask with a sort of singsongy Gregorian chant:
“SnaaaaaAAAAAaaaaack. SnaaaAAAaaAAAAaAaAck. Aaah-men.”
My daughter, on the other hand, is much more direct:
“Something else for eat. Open dis door. Snack. Open dis door, Daddy. Pleeeeeease.”
My wife and can expect these performances at any moment, all day, every day.
I’m not sure what it is about the snack that makes it the perpetual Disneyland that it is for them. Perhaps it’s because on some level we give them a choice. (“Sure, you can have those peanuts or those raisins, but no cookies.”) Maybe it’s the idea of not having to sit at a confined table and being able to eat while simultaneously playing Legos, doing puzzles, or body-slamming a sibling. Or maybe it’s just the independence toddlers crave–the ability to recognize and remedy their hunger all by themselves (with just a liiiiittle help from Mommy and Daddy).
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