I took a deep breath as I plopped onto the couch. It had been a marathon day for our family, kicking off with a frantic search for the baskets of goodies the Easter Bunny had hidden for the Twins in the living room the night before, followed by church, a breakfast/Easter egg hunt at my in-laws’, a lunch/extended hangout at my parents’ house (which also included my in-laws), and an epic, multi-generational game of Spoons resulting in literal bloodshed for several family members.
We’d just gotten back home from the festivities at about four in the afternoon. My daughter, who had fallen into a post-candy coma in the car, was still passed out on the couch, while my son was assessing his toy/sweets inventory on the living room floor, unpacking his three Easter baskets (yes, the Easter Bunny visited both grandparents’ houses, too) and lining up his loot.
I am not a napper, but after the day we’d had out in the Arizona heat, I was just about to nod off when the silence was broken.
It was my wife. I’ll admit that my initial reaction was annoyance because she’d used her Desperately Important Tone of Voice, which is usually reserved for Dire Emergencies, like when it is critical that I retrieve a box of her scarves I did not even know existed from the top shelf of our closet, or when a bug that was “crawling across the floor, trying to eat her” turns out to be a ball of lint. You know, the heavy shit.
Sighing lazily, I rose from the couch. “I’ll be right back, Buddy,” I told my son.
“Okay, Daddy,” he said, eyes still on his gear. “I’m just going to sit here and line up all of the things that the Easter Bunny brought me because I got a lot of things and I’m putting them in a line so I can see the ones that I have and then I’m going to play wiff them.”
“Sounds good, Buddy.”
I headed into our bedroom, ready to be underwhelmed by my wife’s latest “crisis.” But when I saw her standing in the bathroom with ET-sized eyes, I knew right away that something was different. This might actually be A Big Deal.
I know how it must have looked to the underwhelmed outdoor mall kiosk vendors.
A boisterous early-thirties couple with excellently-defined tan lines bumbling their way through the establishment with heavy footfalls, giggling uncontrollably and carrying the faint scent of island rum.
Oh, fantastic, they observed. More drunk tourists.
I knew this because even in my heightened state of awesomeness, my keen ninja senses saw them willing themselves not to roll their eyes, especially when we slurred the following greeting to an unsuspecting swimwear clerk:
“I’m a mother of twins. I don’t want to look sexy anymore. I want to cover my butt. What do you have for that?”
“She just wants a sarong. Is that so wrong?”
Come on, bikini merchant, crack a smile. Can’t you see that we’re hilarious?
Besides, we don’t get out much, and if you walked a mile in our flip flops, you’d be lit up and hilarious tonight, too.
“Stupid rental car,” my wife growled.
“Huh?” I bumbled, snapping out of an exhausted daze. “I thought we liked the rental car.”
Having ventured to Maui with my parents, we’d rented a minivan that would comfortably fit the six of us and our fleet of Traveling Toddler Circus props. Even with the two extra adults there was still plenty of room. Compared to the 4-door sedan we usually cart the kids around in and into which certain strollers only fit one way (when inserted with ninja precision), it was a veritable vehicular vacation on top of our location vacation. In fact, it had inspired us to seek out a van of our own once we returned to Phoenix. Or so I thought as my wife suddenly slandered our steed’s good name.
“We do like it, except for this stupid speedometer. I have no idea how fast I’m going.”
Straightening up on the passenger side, I leaned towards my wife at the wheel to survey the dash. The numbers and gauges shone brightly up at us as we traversed the dark, sans-streetlight coastal road. On this particular night my parents were out on a date and my wife and I were headed back to the hotel with our passed-out munchkins. When it’s just the four of us, my wife usually opts to drive due to her propensity for motion sickness and a particularly vocal flair for back-seat driving. While many of my male peers might see this as gender-role sacrilege, I assure you, this is the optimal driving arrangement.
Examining the dashboard, I saw exactly what my wife was talking about. A digital gauge displayed her speed in kilometers per hour rather than miles per hour.
There’s no gentle way to say this–I can smell the difference between my son and daughter’s fecal matter.
I could describe their distinct aromas for you in gag-reflex-inducing detail, but have chosen not to in case you are currently eating, or plan to ever again. (After all, you should never bite the hand that reads you.)
Not sure how many of you know this, but I am a world class dishwasher. This is not due to any concerted effort on my part–I’ve just wound up logging my 10,000 hours since the Twins’ birth, conquering mountains of soiled bottles, Sippy Cups, and high-chair trays on a tri-daily basis.
Thus, on the morning of the Twincident in question, I had stealthily ducked into the kitchen to knock out the breakfast dishes. Despite both having nasty colds and ear infections, the Twins were in excellent spirits having just been fed, and babbled baby limericks at each other while surveying the playroom toyscape. Since the Twins made their outside-of-Mommy debut, we rarely have more than two minutes to eat human-style at a proper table anyway, so we chose to convert our house’s “dining room” to a playroom, which has worked swimmingly at moments like this, when I can watch them in the next room while still actively pursuing 20,000 hours.
Having successfully sanitized the load’s umpteenth and umptieth items, I Deion-Sanders-High-Stepped from the sink to the playroom threshold.
And that’s when it hit me.
The Wall of Stank.
In addition to classes, a significant portion of my work as a student involves conducting research, and I’m thrilled to report that I recently learned two academic papers I co-authored and submitted to highly-regarded conferences were both accepted and will thus be published. Having never submitted to anything of this caliber, I’m floored to be batting 1.000, and as hard as I work to keep my world spinning, it’s a nice little payoff. I’m convinced the scales were tipped in my favor due to my inclusion of the very same bow-wearing stick figures, pop culture references, and fecal humor you’ve come to expect from this fine publication.
While I have been explicitly forbidden by a gaggle of ninjas to disclose the details of these two strokes of genius before they are published, I will share a new research effort I’ve spearheaded, which involves public transportation. You see, one of the hippest new buzz words in the academic community is “sustainability”–a term I’m convinced some prolific professor coined while drunkenly slurring his words together at a snooty dinner party and that now everyone pretends to know the meaning of. Anyway, I figure if I put “sustainability” in the title, NPR listeners will flock to it like birds who flock to things that birds like, so it’s probably a good career move.
This is Part 2 of the greatest child-safety-lock-infused saga of our time, Adventures in Baby-Proofing. See how the quest for full storage compartment lockdown began here.
The baby-proofing latches we bought for the majority of our drawers and cabinets would not properly fit our TV stand drawers, so this week, my wife and I opted for an alternative, the Safety 1st Adjustable Multi-Purpose Strap.
Fantastic! We thought. It has “Safety 1st” IN ITS NAME! Surely this product would provide iron-clad protection for years to come.
As you can probably gather from the picture modeled by the lovely microwave (she’s single, fellas!), the device attaches to both the drawer/door and the base of the furniture via double-sided tape. This tape was already adhered to the product, and we were to simply peel off the paper covering the other sticky sides, press them to the necessary surfaces for five minutes or so, and rest easy knowing our katana blade drawer was safely locked away, out of twin-shot.
I wanted to finish baby-proofing our house earlier. I really did. But it’s the thought that counts.
I had the best intentions when I began work in October, and have slowly made what I believe to be significant progress given the circumstances, as the project has been narrowly constrained by multiple, immovable factors:
1) My Fans
I am apparently so incredibly awesome and compelling that my pint-sized fans cannot bear the thought of me leaving the room. Not to go to the bathroom, wash dishes, get diapers, or anything else that takes longer than five seconds. The Experts call this “separation anxiety.” I call it “the reason I can’t get anything done around the house unless I want an improvisational high-pitched duet as a soundtrack.” Due to sharp drills and screwdrivers and the same hazardous cabinet contents I’m trying to bar from their tiny, inquisitive hands, I can’t have them climbing all over me while I install latchery. Keeping them in the room with me as I work necessitates restrictive holding cells such as Pack ‘n’ Plays and Exersaucers, but they are proficiently crawling their way to walking any day now, and thus assertively refuse any restraints in efforts normally attributed to Wild Horses and Freebirds and Eyes of Tigers. These factors all imply that the ideal baby-proofing window is during a Nap Overlap or Ni-Night Time. Aside from the fact that a Nap Overlap itself is rare, the slightest of sounds from a pin dropping to a grizzly bear/man hybrid slamming a car door can wake them, so firing up the drill while they’re asleep is simply ill-advised.
2) My Schedule
Two of my weekdays are spent on campus studying in preparation for world domination. I have not yet taken my program’s Building and Remotely Controlling Your Own Robot Henchman 101 class, so baby-proofing production grinds to an unfortunate halt on these days. The remaining three weekdays are dedicated to house-husbanding and twin-wrangling, which, as I just mentioned, are not conducive to accomplishing anything but avoiding tantrums and occasionally escaping for a guerrilla laundry load. This leaves the weekends, the only time we are together as a family, during which we spend quality time driving around town running errands, and every once in a while, pretending we have a social life. This aspect has recently been amplified by…