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
I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. After a particularly long morning, the Twins’ 3rd Birthday Party was finally in full swing. Food was served, Piglet and Pluto cupcake towers were constructed, and while kids of all ages darted across the house hopped up on sugar, our adult friends and family tossed back a mimosa or two, occasionally craning their necks to check on their offspring.
Yep, it looked like we just might pull this thing off after all.
It figures that on a day meant to be all about them, my son and daughter decided to make the entire morning all about them with constant, unnecessarily melodramatic whining, thus hindering the actual preparation for their party. The plan had been for me to head to the grocery store for a few last-minute food items while my wife stayed home to get things ready, with help from her sister who had graciously volunteered her mad cupcaking skillz. My wife–an überplanner–had dutifully procured party game supplies to be assembled, festive popcorn boxes to be filled with Orville Redenbacher-y goodness, and goodie bags to be distributed to the under-ten crowd. However, as I witnessed the Twins’ heart-wrenching, Oscar-worthy disapproval of changing from their pajamas to their party clothes just before I left, I had a feeling my wife’s überplans had become an endangered species. Sure enough, the moment I re-entered the house with groceries in tow (30 minutes from Go Time), I was met with a frantic Honey-Do-all-of-this-before-I-Hulk-Smash-somebody’s-face List. Despite my deft popcorn-box filling and spirited backyard dog-poo extraction, our guests began to arrive way before we were able to accomplish Operation: Meet The Wife’s Unrealistic Pinterest-Fueled Expectations.
Looking up suddenly from her macaroni and cheese, my daughter boomed, “Merry Christmas!”
Across the table, in his own high chair, my son shook his head, grimacing. “No, Sister. It’s not Christmas yet.”
However, my daughter’s holiday spirit would not be shaken. “Merry Christmas, Daddy! Merry Christmas, Brother! Merry Christmas, macaroni and cheese!”
This time he screamed. “NOOO! No, Sister! It’s not Christmas yet! You stop saying dat!”
Having heard this same interchange about five times throughout the course of the day, I decided it was time to moderate—if, for nothing else, my own sanity.
“Okay, kids. Listen,” I began. “It’s not Christmas Day yet, so Buddy, you’re right. It’s not Christmas Day. But right now, it is Christmas Time, because Christmas is coming. So because it’s Christmas Time, we can say ‘Merry Christmas.’ So Sister is right, too.”
My explanation was greeted with dead silence. I could tell two little sets of wheels were turning. The dog, who was waiting for dropped food under the table, began to hum the Jeopardy Theme.
Then, my son stood up in his high chair, raised his arms (a spoonful of mac and cheese in hand), and shouted, “Merry Christmas, everyone!”
Yes! I’d done it. I’d finally negotiated the end of the Battle of Merry Christmas, and no longer would I have to listen to this constant…