Rarely do I experience more drama in my household than when the Twins are deciding which movie to watch. As the Movie Selection Committee consists of two highly opinionated two-year-olds, the deliberation process has been known to inspire tears, tiny fistfights, and even the occasional airborne DVD case. In fact, these pre-movie events often rival the actual movies in both intensity and entertainment value. However, once white smoke emanates from our chimney, alerting the throngs of onlookers and international press gathered on our street that a film has finally been chosen, my daughter invariably reminds me:
“I don’t like the Mean Lady.”
This is because in just about every movie we’re currently watching, she has found a female character that terrifies her, and the moment any of these Mean Ladies are onscreen, she’ll literally run away from the TV to find me (yes, even when I’m on the toilet) and insist that I “Skip this part. I don’t like the Mean Lady.”
This is my cue to cuss inaudibly as I frantically search for the stupid f*cking remote (I just had it thirty seconds ago!) and–once I finally extract it from inside the Lego house my son is building–skip the movie to the next scene, which is blissfully devoid of any and all Mean Ladies.
I’m not sure where this phobia comes from. Perhaps she feels that all women ought to be kind and nurturing (like her Mommy) and seeing the flip side of that flips her out. Of course, it doesn’t really help that kids’ movies tend to lay the evil on pretty thick with villains so that it’s unquestionably clear who’s the “bad guy.” At any rate, what follows is a breakdown of the Ladies my daughter finds to be particularly Mean.
1. Mother Gothel – Tangled
Mother Gothel is the original Mean Lady, the one who started it all with my little girl, and I have to say, I don’t really blame her on this one. The second she saw the beginning part where Gothel’s fugly screaming monster face abducted Rapunzel, I knew there was no turning back. While I’m confident Gothel wouldn’t be a real-life threat (her main weapon is long-term psychological damage) and that I could send her away crying like a little girl by mentioning she looked like she was looking a little gray today, I can understand how the devilish facial expressions and sudden changes in volume could freak out my two-year-old.
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.
“Hey… Wait a minute… Are they… twins?”
I cringed internally while sporting a winning fake smile.
No matter where we go or what we do, people continue to be intrigued by the novelty that is having twins.
I know I shouldn’t blame them. The realist in me reminds me that twins just aren’t something people see every day, so I do my best to cut them a little slack.
However, for some reason, my having twins automatically issues an invitation for a surprising majority of complete strangers to walk up to us, interrupt whatever we’re doing, and expect me to answer questions about my kids, as if I’m rolling a mobile freak show booth through the grocery store. “Ask me anything!” boasts a Jumbotron visible to everyone but me. “It’s not like I’m trying to figure out which aisle the bastard store manager moved the diapers to while my son throws Cheerios at my face or anything. No, seriously, I want nothing more than to make small talk right now with someone I will never see again while my daughter sits in the wet diaper I need to change as soon as I check out.”
Some of the most popular inquiries I receive during these impromptu press conferences include:
“Do they play together?” (No, although they live in the same house, have the same parents, and do everything together, they do not ever play together. In fact, I don’t even think they’ve met each other.)
“Do they have their own language?” (Yes. We call it English.)
“How far apart were they born?” (Just a few feet. It was in the same room.)
And, of course, my personal favorite:
“Are they identical?” (Please don’t make me explain to you why penises are not identical to vaginas.)
“We need more balls!” my wife cried urgently.
Giggling, I replied “That’s what she sai–”
“Don’t. Just get another one.”
We were in the midst of a Clash of the Ti-twins over a ball, only one of which was out in the living room with them. When an item changes hands between my loinfruits every five seconds punctuated by banshee screams and floor flails, it can get ugly pretty quickly, hence my wife’s desperation. She kept them separated like a boxing referee listening to The Offspring while I hopped the baby gate and scoured the playroom for more balls, trying to suppress the flood of terribly unfunny ball-related innuendos I wanted to crack.
Does ball size matter?
Where would you like me to put the balls?
Will the deflated balls still work?
See? Just terrible. Anyway…
As buried as I am in my edumacation, I thrive on routine because I know when I can expect to just barely pull off a project minutes before its deadline without being interrupted by disagreements over whose Mickey Mouse sticker is whose. While my über-regimented schedule lacks the spontaneity I prefer, knowing exactly when I can sit and focus free of tiny face-fives keeps me productive and sane–both highly desirable qualities in a person entrusted with the lives of multiple one-year-olds.
Since I live on a planet where academic research design and Disney Sing-Along-Songs are king, I’d entirely forgotten that Easter was, in fact, this weekend, and I’m a little ashamed to confess that my gut reaction to this realization was annoyance.
“No, Buddy, I just told you, your sister is reading that,” I said, prying the coveted Elmo’s ABC Book from his hand, prompting an eloquent baby cuss reply.
Sighing heavily, I returned the pillaged book to my daughter, who kicked jubilantly, as the plot was really heating up around “Q is for quilt” and she was on the edge of her seat on the playroom floor, just dying to see what letter was next.
I turned back to my thieving son. “Buddy, you have five books already. Why don’t we read one of those?”
My son approaches playtime the same way I envision Napoleon Bonaparte would at one year old. Whenever he’s decided what to play with, he desperately needs that toy genre’s entire collection. If it’s blocks, they all simply must encircle him. If it’s books, he needs a shelf-full at his disposal. I’m quite certain that if he were aware of Pokemon, he would not rest until adequately “catching ’em all.”
Thus, if the parent-on-duty does not facilitate total toy acquisition, we can expect a fiery rage turning his skin green and inflating his muscles to three times their normal size, ironically tearing his Incredible Hulk t-shirt to shreds.