Teenie Tiny Pseudonymous was born atop the Stratosphere, Las Vegas at 8:41 pm on Wednesday, December 17, 2014. She was delivered by an elite team of board certified Cirque du Soleil performers who–in collaboration with Mrs. Pseudonymous’s well-orchestrated pushing–perfectly timed the delivery with the opening Ringo Starr drum solo of The Beatles’ “LOVE” show. Then, just as Teenie’s head emerged from her mother’s hoo-hoo, an electromagnetic pulse was inexplicably unleashed, triggering all slot machines within a five-mile radius to display three consecutive bow-wearing stick figures and completely empty themselves of coins, much to the delight of cheap, low-stakes patrons (and to the disappointment of “the house,” who apparently does not always win after all). Via a system of pulleys and bicycles, the Soleil performers then counterbalanced the infant with an elephant, a grand piano, and a pint of Guinness, and after consulting Siri, declared the infant to weigh in at .0032885 metric tons (all, of course, to the tune of The Beatles’ “Carry That Weight”).
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.
Daughter: What are doze guys doin’, Daddy?
Me: Those are The Beatles, baby. They’re crossing the road.
Daughter: Oooh, there’s cars comin’. They better be careful.
If there’s one thing I learned while growing up, it’s that–in the words of the great philosopher Hoots the Owl—“You gotta put down the Duckie if you wanna play the saxophone.”
I’ve since devised lifehacks allowing me to defy this nocturnal avian jazz musician’s First Law of Multi-Tasking, deftly blowing the perpetual 12-bar solo that is being a husband, dad, and student while still keeping a firm grip on the duckie that is this fine publication. However, during the month of July, the song’s tempo sped to a breakneck punk rock moshpit pace, and as I attempted to keep up with the chord changes, the poor little duckie came flying out of my hand.
Since I know you hang on my every Twincident, O Loyal Reader, I’m sure you noticed things have been considerably quiet ’round these parts. I’ve always told myself I’d never let writing about being a dad get in the way of actually being a dad, and the past few weeks found me in that very position. While writing is a deep passion of mine, I can’t let it jeopardize my sax life.
I had to huck the duck.
“Oh, crap!” I heard my wife laugh.
That morning, my son had capitalized on my wife’s just-slightly-ajar shirt drawer and had cordially unpacked it for her, so she was now reorganizing while I played zone defense in the living room as two tiny wide receivers ran circles around me.
“What’s up?” I called.
She joined us, waving a book in the air. “So I bought you this for your birthday months ago and hid it at the bottom of my drawer, but I forgot it was there until just now.”
It only took a glance for me to recognize it–Steve Turner’s A Hard Day’s Write, a book detailing the stories behind every single Beatles song. As an obsessive Beatles fan, I’ve have been salivating over it for years, as it is counted among the finest of Fab Four lore. But that’s not the only reason I recognized it.
“Did you see that link I sent you today?” my wife inquired, placing a bottle of freshly-pumped breast milk in the fridge.
I looked up from the boob-funnels I was washing in the sink as bewildered as the seventh graders I’d stumped similarly all day, searching my exhausted mind for the answer. At four months old, the Twins were still rarely allowing us more than three hours of continuous slumber, making us bumbling idiots more often than not.
“I’m sorry, which link? Remind me.” Having vaguely drawn the line between today and other days in my sluggish mind, I could now narrow the possibilities to 3-4 links, as my wife sends me multitudes of information daily, ranging from infinitely fascinating to a notch above “waste of time,” but much more often the former.
“That stay-at-home dad article. From the newspaper.”
“Oh, right, that one. Yeah, I did.” Since our recent decision for me to quit teaching for stay-at-home fathering and Ph.D.-ing, my wife had taken to sending me SAHD resources during the workday, partly to show me there were lots of dads in my situation and partly (as I learned months later) because she was secretly terrified of me being in charge and was covertly boot-camping me up to snuff. This particular article was one of countless SAHD-penned rants about how when out in public during work hours, people don’t often understand why the kids are with their father, asking such intelligent questions as “Are you on vacation?”, “Where’s their mother?”, and even “Did you lose your job?”
“What’d you think?” my wife prodded.
“I don’t know. It was all right.” I gently adjusted the Baby Bjorn strap so as not to wake the napping son ornament on my chest. “I guess it was kind of funny, but not all that different from stuff already out there.”
“True,” she overemphasized, and fell silent.
Huh. That was weird. Where’s she going with this?
“You know,” she continued. “You could do better.”
I was already mourning the morning walk.
Before we’d even traveled a block my dog had decided to lead the caravan, walking directly in front of the jogging stroller, her hindquarters mere inches from the front wheel. I don’t know why she insists upon this walking arrangement–maybe she likes to think she’s in charge–but(t) it never “ends” well for her, typically culminating in me literally running her ass over. It begins when she looks back at the stroller and decides she is terrified of it, so terrified that she freezes in place, causing the usually-taut leash to slack and wrap around the stroller’s back axle, putting us at a dead stop just after the tire bumps her square on the cheeks. I do my best to stop before the butt-bump, but she forces me to tailgate her at an unsafe following distance.
On this particular day, she had jumped to deer-in-headlights mode so abruptly and forcibly that it had pulled her harness clean off. (We attach the leash to her harness and not her collar because after years of scientific research, we have determined she would rather be choked to death than respond to leash tugs.) And because my dog just barely qualifies as obedient, I knew I had to act quickly on this leashless freedom unless I wanted to choose between:
1) chasing her around the neighborhood, loudly cussing her out while she thinks its a game, waking the Twins from their stroller catnaps and yielding a sterophonic meltdown; or
2) tritely employing the if-you-love-her-set-her-free-and-if-she-never-returns-she-was-never-yours axiom, which would most likely mean never seeing my beloved canine again, as she would surely make a grand exit from this life in Harry Houdini fashion while performing her famous freezing-in-front-of-an-oncoming vehicle trick.
It was in that moment that I remembered I am a ninja, as my keen, subconscious reflexes sprang into action, one-handedly snagging her by the tail, keeping the other hand firmly planted on the stroller.
She turned her head towards me, dumbly panting with glee, as if to say. “That was fun, Dad!”