It's been three months since I last sought witness to this adventure. Perhaps not seeking witness is why they were a turbulent three months. Or maybe I didn't seek witness because they were a turbulent three months. Whichever way you bake it, it is still a cake.
In the last three months, Madison and Kenton started speaking full sentences. They stopped being potty-curious, content to wear diapers all day long, enjoying the peace of mind that comes with joyful, uninterrupted play. Then they started being potty-curious again, randomly, especially when we were at someone else's house or at a restaurant. Kenton learned to lay his head down on his pillow while simultaneously pulling his covers up; one night I actually watched him adjust his blanket in his sleep. It was a small gesture but one so large in all that it implies about his age and development; I cried. That same week I stuck my nose into each of my children's hair, breathing deeply the lingering scent of baby still there, but now barely distinguishable, on the top of their dirty toddler heads. I wanted to crawl into bed with them and hold each close against my chest, as I did when they were infants.
Three months is a short amount of time, in the grand scheme of things, yet so much has changed. Both boys are the most emphatic, stubborn people that I know (save myself) and they express it in two different ways. Madison will lose his shit when he doesn't get what he wants; if he doesn't agree with you, or has decided on his own course of action, he will simply run away. If you've called a green melon, a honey dew and this is the first they've seen or tasted of it, Kenton will condescendingly tell you, "No, Mommy, that is not called a honey dew." And when you ask him what it is called, he'll say, "It's like . . . a watermelon." True, but also not true. One morning, Madison woke up and the first thing he said was, "I have a question for Amy." Amy is the head teacher in his classroom at daycare. Whether he'd heard me say it the night before, or he had his own deep reflection in his sleep that required an immediate inquiry, those were the first words out of his mouth.
In the past three months, Kenton started carrying Cleo around, telling her, "Cleo, it's time to eat. Cleo, go to the bathroom. Cleo, lie down and go to sleep." I hear that this is a demonstration of his independence from me, having something of his own to care for and nurture. I find that because they are smarter than me, and also, quite abruptly, separate from me, and because they clearly have the verbal advantage, I must use love and logic in our household. I hear myself saying, "You have a choice: you can hand mommy the truck or mommy can take the truck," when it's time for bed and they are still playing, with their firetruck turned excavator with hyper-focus. I find that if the choice is between doing it themselves or having mommy do it they usually choose the former. "I got it," they will say. If I word it just right, in the end I get what I want, either way. I'm sure they'll catch on soon. But for now, don't say anything.
That is one of the pluses that come with having children in the fourth decade of life. The first three decades gave me the opportunity to develop wisdom and strategy. I won't take credit for that insight. The daughter of one of our dear village people, said that to me, while we were eating a birthday supper for her father and niece; me with half an eye on Madison and Kenton, who were running around with whiteboard markers, which unlike the ones at home, are not washable, and she sitting peacefully with one tweener and one young adult child, speaking retrospectively about having done both - young parenting and older parenting - and preferring the older parenting. "You know more," she said, "which means you think less." It was the same realization that my college roommate had this weekend, when one of my children, during lunch out at a restaurant, filled a bowl with water from his cup, turned the bowl over and announced, "I made a flood, mommy!" I simply said, "Uh-Oh", grabbed a few napkins and sopped up the mess. I probably should have made it a teachable moment, but really, there are much bigger, more life-threatening lessons I want to teach him. We cleaned up our mess (I learned that one last summer) and left the restaurant with the waitstaff saying, "They did great!" Wisdom and strategy, my friends. Wisdom and strategy.
Which is why, in the last three months, I've also learned that childproofing is not necessarily the best way for a child to learn. I'll tell you why. If they are shielded from everything, then you never have to say "No." If you never say "No", then they never hear "No" and they don't learn consequences. Now, I'm not saying you should leave knives out for them to find and play with; that would be silly. I'm saying, that having the fruit bowl on the dining room table and saying, "No thank you; you can have fruit at snack time," when they take a pear down and start eating it, means they learn that just because the fruit is out there, doesn't mean they are okay to touch it, whenever they feel like it. This also means more work for me, I'll be honest. Because they are two year olds, they lack impulse control, which is why the knives are not within reach. It is also why there is that partial hovering that I find myself doing most of the time, making it seem like they are independently exploring the world, while all the while I'm two steps ahead, just in case something jumps out to bite them, literally and figuratively.
So, three months. Come. Gone. A disappointment. A PGE Proud finalist. A once in a lifetime interview. Amazing dinner at Coquine. Conference presentation. Sinus infection fog - full on cold/flu with fever - taking the boys to daycare and coming back home to sleep six hours straight, two days in a row. Hamilton. Passover. Easter. A long wait. A(nother) bigger disappointment. Controversy. Social pain. Support. Gratitude in spades.
A lunch. A drink. A play. Three is a magic number.
I'm Kimberly. Single mother by choice. Soon to be wife. Holder of space. Maker of place. Mom. Mama. Mommy. Mitch. These are my thoughts, reflections, ideas and random observations about raising twin sons.
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