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.
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?”
Unbeknownst to us, our daughter seems to have started a new activist group–Daughters Against Mothers Drinking (DAMD).
Her reasons for this are a mystery to us, as my wife does not even remotely have a drinking problem. She does enjoy an alcoholic beverage from time to time, but so do a majority of adults over 21. In fact, since the pregnancy (when she didn’t drink and I did my best not to make her jealous), breastfeeding, and the unending sleep deprivation of having twin babies (which does not AT ALL jive with a hangover), both of us have become lightweights who feel superfine after two.
However, when my wife does decide she would fancy a drink, she is most certainly entitled, as she is our household’s primary breadwinner at an oftentimes intense job that spreads her thinly and leaves her toasted by the end of the day.
It was with this fervor that she asked for a glass of wine while at Nani and Abuelito’s (my wife’s mother and stepfather’s) house for dinner last night, and I was happy to oblige, pouring her the finest chardonnay Nani’s entire counter had to offer.
My wife and I had narrowly escaped the house with the Twins intact. We’d fed and bathed them in a hurry so we could make it on time to Thanksgiving 2: This Time, It’s Leftovers at my wife’s mother’s house, and were now en route, listening to the soothing sounds of choral squawks from the back seat over the jingle-jangle of Arizona’s perpetual Christmas music radio station.
Glancing downward at her leg, my wife felt her jeans. “My knee’s still wet from when I pulled him out of the tub and dried him,” she chuckled.
“Yeah, well, that’s better than finding poo smears on your sleeve.” I’d had to change my shirt after changing Twin diaper loads.
“Can you imagine how awesome it’s going to be when the kids can walk and we can just tell them to step out of the tub themselves?”
“Yeah, that’ll be nice.” I mused. “But that also means they’ll be able to step out of the tub whenever they want.”
“…Nuh-uh. We’ll hold them down or something.” But even she herself didn’t sound convinced.
I eyed her with a grin. “Mo’ money, mo’ problems, babe.”
“Some day you’re going to look back on this and miss me throwing dirty diapers at you.”
My wife has developed an interesting habit. It begins when she changes the Twins’ diapers and rolls the dirty ones up into neat little balls using the Velcro straps. Now, I had seen this method utilized by other parents before we had the Twins, and understand the philosophy behind it–containing the stank within the confines of the diaper so that until it is thrown away (and even once disposed of), the rankness does not seep out. This part I get.
However, doing so seems to also give my wife license to just leave these little parcels wherever they have been created–changing tables, blankets on the floor, or even our own bed, where we change and feed the Twinfants every morning.
Minutes and minutes of researching our family history for the genesis of this tendency have revealed that it began when we (well, in a strictly anatomical sense, she) first had the Twins. I’ll admit it was a bit of a clusterf*ck in that we were constantly exhausted, running on four hours of sleep compounded over an eight-hour period, each of us feeding a baby every 2-3 hours, day and night. During that time, it was very common for both of us to simply leave dirty diapers where we changed the kids and throw them away later when they were finally asleep and had the an opportunity to do so.
There is also the argument that when changing one of the kids, the diaper disposal device–either our Diaper Genie or Diaper Champ–isn’t always right next to the changing location, so I can also understand that, especially now that the kids are able to roll around (and off things like changing tables and beds).
However, there are a few reasons why these diaper wads have gotten on my nerves.
First of all, they’re DIRTY DIAPERS. They staaank (sick sic). Now, I will give my wife credit for always properly disposing of poop-centric diapers, but liquid-based ones she lets linger start to smell just as much when you have four of them on the corner of the bed collaborating as a pleasant-odor-fighting Injustice League. Even though they are sealed to prevent liquid leakage, the stink burrows its way out.
Furthermore, because I’m the one who’s home all day, whenever my wife creates these treats in the morning before work, I am thus tasked with throwing them away. With as much as I pretend to do around the house as it is, I would prefer not to have to dispose of newly-established dirty diaper colonies.
Finally, the most irritating reason (which is the true spearhead of this domestic exposé) is that my wife has taken to throwing these diaper balls at yours truly. In fact, she had even dubbed these parcels “Diaper Bullets.” Her military strategy is built around times I am tired and thus more vulnerable to attack. Since she is a much lighter sleeper than I am, she’s always the first person to wake up when the Twins do. As I’m drifting back into the real world from vanquishing Voldemort or sticking it to the Galactic Empire, I’ll often be “helped along” by the impact of the still-warm diaper that has just been removed from the first-changed child. I am also often met with a barrage of fire just before going to bed. I’ll be watching tv, reading, or even taking my glasses off to lie down, and catch a faint, ever-intensifying whiff of baby urine, but before I can perform an evasive maneuver, BAM!
Now, don’t get me wrong–I don’t just take this “lying down” so to speak. I retaliate with return fire, prompting a spontaneous sort of dodgeball match, but with soiled diapers.
At the same time, the “shot heard ’round the world” in the morning when I’m still half asleep and the unsuspecting kamikaze attacks before bed are what really annoy me, as I’m already tired and irritable.
I mean, really, I enjoy throwing dirty diapers at my wife as much as the next guy, but during the day when I’m alert and caffeinated. More often than not, the projectiles are unwelcome.
Of course, my wife and I have discussed this matter. I’m not just passive-aggressively blogging about this instead of communicating with her. I will say that in recent weeks, conditions have improved, for me at least. She has actually moved on to other victims–her mother and sister for example–and whenever doing so, in the same way that a wayward golf ball merits a “Fore!” she courteously bellows “Diaper Bullet!” As the perplexed target attempts to decipher what the hell she just said, he or she takes the answer to the face.
However, I have also noticed a recent resurgence of Diaper Bullet stockpiles throughout the house. She swears it’s because our lives are so chaotic at the moment since we are moving this week and stumbling over boxed belongings hourly; she allegedly forgets to go back and dispose of them because there’s so much else to do.
But I know her real motive. She is amassing ammunition.
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If not, I’d watch out for Diaper Bullets.
I am thrilled, O Loyal Reader, to announce that the following Twincident was actually not written by me, but instead an Über-Special Guest Author. You’ve heard her thoughts on having more children, hydration and colored clutter. You’ve seen her catch vomit with her mouth, stick her chin in poo, and even put up with her husband’s suggestive innuendos while deathly ill. Now, for the first time, the floor is hers. Please welcome my wife, Bernie Pseudonymous!
(Yes, that’s right, her name is Bernie. Please withhold your Weekend at Bernie’s jokes. You may think you’re being original, but we’ve heard them all and none of them are funny. Not even yours.)
This story starts like most other stories in my life lately. “My husband and I were feeling a little adventurous, so…” we decided that a weekend getaway to San Diego (5 hours by car) was totally doable and should be in our immediate future. The main motivation behind this quest was a five-generation picture that I wanted to get with our five-and-a-half-month-old twins and their great-great grandmother who was able to come down to San Diego with my grandmother so we could capture this rare twincident (if you will) on film. Plus, getting out of the 100-plus Arizona heat sounded very appealing and I wanted to prove to myself that it COULD be done. We knew that the twins could handle this adventure if we planned it right.
So we started preparing about three weeks prior to the Fourth of July weekend, talking to friends and scouring these internets for twinfant travel tips. The plan was to leave after we fed the twins dinner and a bottle hoping the baby food coma would keep the kids asleep the whole way. To me this seemed like a solid plan but the actual car ride, not so solid.
Pretty much every night our daughter falls asleep after dinner and stays asleep for the night. She can’t take a nap worth a damn, but at night she recoups. Our son is a little different. He goes down for naps relatively easy all day but also wakes up relatively easy and usually to the sound of our dog alerting us a car has gone by or some other annoying sound like thunder. So this applies to our car adventure because he was unable to fall asleep right away and the loud swooshing of wind flying by the car kept him awake. And unhappy. He cried for about 45 minutes, but then fell asleep until we reached a halfway mark where I could change him as the sky finally darkened, allowing his brain to recognize that sleep was in fact a good idea. (He did this on the way home, too but that time our daughter woke up, so Mom ninja-ed her way into the back seat and performed Mommy Sleep Magic on them both. Not ideal, but not terrible either.)
We arrived in San Diego at 10:30 pm at which point I had to wait 20 minutes for my sleeping mother (who goes by “Nani” instead of “Grandma”) to come down to the lobby to tell us where our room was. As an added bonus, my 14-year-old brother had fallen asleep in our room (why he was in there in the first place…?) and Nani needed to get an extra key from the front desk to open it. All this commotion woke the bambinos up and UP they were for the next two hours. Once everyone settled we all slept until 5 am, but thankfully we handed the kids off to Nani at 6:30 after they ate and Mom and Dad got to sleep until 9. It was our first time sleeping that late in months, and It. Was. Awesome.
Most of our trip was spent swapping babies between my husband, Nani, my sister, brother and me so naps could be achieved and meals could be eaten. It was not a bad system. Later that afternoon I was so excited to take my kids on a non-100-plus-degree walk that I just threw them in the stroller and we left not knowing we’d be taking a three-mile walk and not putting sunscreen on. Needless to say, the adults got burnt but the kids were unscathed and loved the walk. We performed some voodoo on the kids upon our return and got everyone to take a nap, refreshing us all.
After our nap we decided we needed to take the five-generation photos, as postponement might result in whiny twin/great-great-grandma syndrome. I can happily report that said photos turned out perfectly and I am so thrilled to be able to share these with my kids. After the pictures we ate dinner on the patio and had drinks with the whole family, great and great-great grandma included. Some fond memories were created. The kids’ great-great grandma is sharp. She was telling jokes and totally chatting us up. Definitely worth the 45 minutes of crying…both ways.
The next day came too quickly and we were off that night to return home. This was a trial vacation but I know the kids can handle longer and I can’t wait for the next time. In the end, the trip was quite a success.
Here are a few things Mom learned along the way:
- Both my parents and my husband’s parents gave us crap for the three suitcases, two travel co-pods, stroller, two diaper bags, backpack, fleet of bottles, high chairs covers and portable bath tub that we packed BUT there was only one item we didn’t use—a portable jumper—and that’s only because the door frame wouldn’t allow it.
- In a choice between a car with space and a car that is super quiet, the quiet one wins. My poor son scared himself too many times in the loud sport utility vehicle we swapped with Nani to take to San Diego, but luckily we swapped cars back and drove our own, much quieter four-door sedan home.
- Rest areas, hotels, and some fast food joints do not have diaper-changing stations in their bathrooms. They will pay someday. I don’t know how, but they will pay.
- Our car stereo has a fade option allowing us to turn down the speakers next to the kids. Had no idea. My husband thought I was crazy for not knowing this information. Guess I’ve never had to fade the sound to the front so my kids won’t wake up before.
- The second you get in the car for a long ride, your twins will poop. Mine did both ways.
- The white noise Sound Machines (that my husband believes are from Miami) are lifesavers when staying in a hotel. The constant slamming of doors is less annoying if not projected through hallways full of paper-thin walls.
- A family trip with five-month-old twins and an 88-year-old great-great grandma is actually a good idea since they are on the same nap and nighttime schedule.
- Food at a hotel is WAY too expensive, but it’s the closest spot to get some food in your belly that doesn’t require the Twin Car Shuffle, so it will do.
- Going on vacation with my husband, my mom, my grandma, my sister and brother was genius. There was always someone to help with the kids. I believe all vacations with my kids should require other family members.
- Caffeine is such a great friend. It never lets you down when you need it most. Even if you have to dump 10 packs of sugar in it to be drinkable.
- Stroller naps are just fine. So are naps anywhere else.
- My daughter is a great traveler. My son’s not.
- Mommy can and did squeeze her tush between the car seats in the backseat of our four-door sedan. When two kids are screaming like wild banshees, it can be done.
- Twins are a novelty in California as well as Arizona, as are idiots who believe they are entitled to touching our twins even though they are complete strangers.
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If not, I’ll turn this car right around and go back home. Is that what you want?
It was the worst of times, it was the worstest of times, it was the age of projectile sneezing, it was the age of irrepressible coughing, it was the epoch of mucus, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was okay to use improper grammar while parodying famous literature, because it was hilarious, it was the summer of insomnia, it was the summer of despair, we had everything before us, we had viruses after us, we were all going direct to the doctor, we were all going direct to the pharmacy—in short, the period was so far from the present period, that some of its noisiest Twinfants insisted on its being blogged, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of awesomeness only.
For most of the month of June, my house was baby cold central. As I’ve mentioned previously (in Don’t Fear the Teether, and Think of the Children), my daughter was under the weather, forecasted by my wife and I as thundering storm clouds looming along the Pseudonymous front, and when the storm finally broke, it did, in fact, ignite several torrential weeks of snot-rocket downpours—from both kids.
I realize, O Loyal Reader, that by not following up on this storyline, I’ve left you with a cliffhanger as agonizing as a television-season-ending shocker, and that you’ve been waiting with bated breath for updates on my daughter’s state. For that I offer my sincerest apologies, and humbly ask you to put away that guillotine. Ironically, part of the reason for it is because so much has been happening since then that is worthy of sharing, but the all-consuming nature of caring for ailing Twinfants has kept me so busy that I have not had time (or, let’s face it, the energy) to chronicle these stories. But fear not. That ends right here and now, as Twinfamy has been “recalled to life” and returns to pseudo-continuity. In fact, this Twincident picks up right where Think of the Children left off, on the following day, a Monday.
Week the First – The Snot Still Rises
We had suspected my daughter of having a cold, and after visiting the doctor (for the second time in two weeks), it was confirmed.
“Looks like it’s viral,” our doctor reported, sporting the winning smile with which she breaks bad news, “So there isn’t much to do in terms of antibiotics or other prescriptions. Unfortunately, you’ll just have to ride this one out. Can you do that for me, little girl?” she asked my daughter, who—oh yeah, had been SCREAMING in protest for the last ten minutes while being examined.
My daughter paused a moment, blinked at the unexpected stimulus, and glared with recognition at the stranger who had just been poking at her while all she really wanted was Daddy to hold her, as if to say, Sleep with one eye open, tonight b!tch. She erupted again, drenching herself in a fresh concoction of tears and boogers. Poor baby girl.
“Some things you can try,” the doctor hollered over the tiny soprano, “are a humidifier, elevating her mattress, using saline nasal drops and extracting mucus with a bulb, and Tylenol if the fevers come back. Oh, and a little cowbell can’t hurt either,” she winked.
Well, my wife and I are kind of a big deal, so we’d already been doing all of these, and when I asserted our greatness, the doctor glowed. “Of course you are! You guys are so good. You’re doing a great job, Dad!” Aw, shucks.
I tried to remember this while braving the five-day scream-fest that ensued, as I split my attention between a miserable daughter who wanted nothing but to be held every second, and a son who became jealously aware of this about thirty seconds after I did. However, Daddy tender-love-and-cared the hell out of them both and we saw my daughter finally feeling better and returning to her happy, bubbly self by Saturday.
Week the Second – Calm in Storm
My daughter had beaten the snot out of her cold and had even taken its lunch money. As an added bonus, my son didn’t show any signs of catching it, either.
This week was drenched in Awesome Sauce, the ingredients for which have been shrouded in mystery for decades, despite tireless attempts by the world’s leading scientists and culinary experts. (Some speculate that Chuck Norris enforces its secrecy, but not out loud. That’s just asking for trouble.)
Week the Third – The Substance of the Nostril
Suddenly, out of nowhere (well, actually, his nostrils), my son began sneeze-launching cloud-white, stringy boogers and coughing uncontrollably. Some friends were visiting us that day, so we joked that he might be allergic to them while they were here, and seriously considered it once they left. The Twins had been sleeping from 7 pm to 5 am consistently prior to the sneeze-a-thon, but that night, we were reminded this was a newfound luxury as he woke up hourly, drowning in a salty sea of his own mucus.
Oddly, the next morning he was fine, as if nothing had happened—as if it were all a bad dream, very much akin to my unintelligent former seventh grader students’ thrilling short story resolutions. It quickly turned back into a nightmare, however, around 3 pm, when mucus-bearing missiles again assaulted my unsuspecting daughter and me. After another night of insomnia, a disheveled, zombie version of myself brought him to the doctor AGAIN, for our fourth visit in three weeks.
“Well, hello again!” Dr. RainbowsSunshineAndPinkBunnyRabbits beamed.
“So, I really think you should do a punch card promotion,” I enthused. “You know, like at a frozen yogurt place? I mentioned it to the receptionist, but she was not very receptive.”
She once again went through her anatomical surveillance procedure. Lungs, ears, temperature, cabin air filter, windshield wiper fluid—all good. Since both my wife and I have endured terrible allergies our whole lives, I consider myself an expert on all things allergy–a connoisseur if you will–and thus was pretty convinced my son was having an allergic reaction, possibly to our visitors or something outside. In retrospect, I had correlated both of his sneezing fits with bringing him outdoors. He loves to look at trees, so we’d been watching the ones in our backyard sway in the breeze just before my peeps showed up, and then the next day, I brought him out with me to check on the installation of a new windshield on my automobile. (Some bastard was hauling gravel in a pickup on the freeway and a piece chipped the glass right in my eyeline. It’s okay, though, because it was free. LikeagoodneighborStateFarmisthere!)
I knew I’d be asked about my son’s recent medical history, so I pulled my trusty ukulele out of the diaper bag and launched into “The Ballad of the Possible Allergy to Something Outside,” a twelve-minute opus I’d composed for the occasion, outlining all of the above. However, mid-seventh verse (just before it really starts to pick up) she politely stopped me to say something I did not know, which I will share with you because you are worthy: Since allergies are your body’s immune system rejecting certain things (which I DID know), you need a fully developed immune system to exhibit allergic reactions. However, babies don’t reach this point until 12-15 months out (which I did NOT know). Upon sharing this with our families, my wife’s mother–a practicing OB/GYN–swore she’d already told us this several days ago. We had no recollection, but if it was, in fact, said, I offered a speculative reason for our non-responsiveness. “But you weren’t wearing one of those white coats and a stethoscope when you said it.”
In the end, it turned out that my son had acquired his first cold, but not from my daughter, since he caught it so much later after she’d shaken hers. So again, we employed the same measures taken to heal my daughter just a few weeks hence, with Daddy iron-manning his way into a Daytime Emmy Nomination, sweating through several t-shirts a day and replenishing these precious bodily fluids by valiantly imbibing Samuel Adams Summer Ale once Mommy got home.
Soon (but not soon enough), by the middle of…
Week the Fourth – The Viruses Die Out Forever
…the viruses appeared to have died out forever.
Victorious, my son, daughter and I ceremoniously danced on their graves, mirthfully firing baby formula into the air. Later that day, right in the middle of Tummy Time, I received a personal call from President Obama on a Fisher Price Chatter Telephone, congratulating me on my victory.
My wife and I had survived the Twins’ first colds, and now have one less item on our “What the Hell Are We Going to Do When That Happens?” List. (Remaining items include “My Daughter Starting to Date” and “Oh Sh!t, They Can Reach the Counter.”)
And although it was a trying period, I never once considered seeking out a ne’er-do-well doppelganger to take my place, because whenever I think about being a father, I invariably conclude that it is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better experience that I am having than I have ever known.
A 500-Disc DVD Special Edition Bonus Feature
To commemorate the Five-Minute Anniversary of this Twincident, Twinfamy decided to do something special–a Behind-the-Scenes, Making-Of commentary, intended to be read simultaneously with the post itself, similar to the auditory director commentary of a motion picture.
This post alludes heavily to Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, one of my favorite novels. If you’ve never read it or were assigned to read it but only pretended to (like I did in high school the first time around) and don’t “get” why I worded things in a certain old-timey way, that’s probably why. However, I do recommend it and hereby make it the first official selection in Twinfamy’s Book Club, a tradition I am igniting because Oprah is a quitter. In fact, it can be read on your worldwide interweb device here. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Additionally, I do realize, O Loyal Reader, this Twincident is lengthier than usual, and yes, because it borrows from literature, is more high-brow than usual. But don’t worry, I still have plenty of poop and fart jokes up my sleeve (or another body part) and will be pulling them out in due time.
Or “doo” time.
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If not, it’s no reason to cut anyone’s head off.