To mark the Fourth holiday it seemed appropriate to write about the two whirling, squealing, squalling little messes that sometimes resemble my children and often resemble fireworks-they’re loud, leave a mess in their wake, and can explode (out the bottom and top- lucky us). But I soon realized the vast amount of snippets I squirreled away for a rainy day. Being a rather pleasant day, a holiday no less, I never finished. And now, here I go, this, a compilation of idiosyncrasies revealed, fleeting moments captured, the pitter patter of daily life-the beats of a family.
Despite the 21-month age difference, the growth of my children mirrors each other. The kiddos are going through periods of remarkable growth in their physical abilities – the newly minted one-year-old has transitioned from a speedy, competent crawler to an almost walker. She pulls herself up, has learned feet first when getting down from things, and frequently falls-her sister sometimes (often) pushes her. She has no desire to walk and sits down when we try. Her trajectory is up: I find her sitting in the toy chest or on top of boxes. She wants to climb, and like a little queen of the mountain, she sits, grinning proudly atop her conquests, oblivious to the precariousness of her perch, the little monkey about to bump her head. Then there’s the toddler who constantly climbs and jumps off of things. I catch her straddling the couch back or standing on the window ledges opening the bay windows despite my near-constant and dire warning about falling out of windows. She discovers on July 3rd that she can climb our four-foot tree, and now she tries to climb all trees. Monkey bars, climbing walls, zip-lines (!) are now her playground go-to fun. One day, out of the blue, “I’m not a monkey,” she says, quietly, as if to herself. I’m not so sure.
The toddler counts as she goes down the stairs, jumps off the last step, and takes a bow. “I…take a bow,” she says. Later, she gives her sister a toy (a miracle!) and takes a bow. “Take a bow.” She launches herself off a chair and sticks the landing. “Did you see that?” she exclaims, then takes a bow. “I…take a bow, and then she takes more bows to the left and right, “thank you, thank you,” she exclaims as a pretend crowd and a monkey in a toy chest cheers her on.
The baby loves music and sings and dances. Her current favorite is Old Macdonald, and I catch her singing “e-i-e-i-o” throughout the day. “What does the Fox Say” has made an unfortunate second run. The toddler tests her skill with the dance moves and the baby “woofs” her way through it, excited by anything that resembles a dog. Both throw their heads up in the air. “Ah-oooooo.”
The toddler sings made-up songs as she plays, and it’s all my doing. The toddler seems to do what I say if I sing it, and so I turn every command, wish, action into a song, a whole repertoire of made-up songs. There’s “Everybody Poos” and “Why So Sad,” an entire album of fun. I catch the toddler singing to her baby doll, a sad dirge, “no yemonade.” We’re cleaning toys and singing, “Make a mess, clean it up.” The toddler adds her own twist, “make a mess, mama clean it up.” Ain’t that the truth.
The baby says something resembling “hi” at a month old. I’m increasingly amazed, spooked, by her ability to communicate. As a newborn, she would do this thing with her eyes, and I knew exactly what she wanted. She points at nine months, deliberate pointing. She says something resembling “thanks” and “you’re welcome” when we hand her food. At a year old, she hears the phone ring, puts her hand up to her ear as if holding a pretend phone and says, “allo.” No surprise, really, that her favorite word is “up.” She says it when she wants to get down or out or into our laps. “Up, up, up” she says to the beat of her hands as she crawls. And now, it’s “mamamamamamamama,” a beautiful sound if it didn’t come out in a baby whine. How do they learn at such a young age to be annoying?
The toddler starts to use full sentences and more advanced vocabulary. She’s graduated from “no, not” when she doesn’t want something to “I don’t yick it. In the midst of a thunderstorm, the night is now “spooky.” Her shoes “disappeared.” She puts my sunglasses on and says the magnified lens are like “binocluars.” We told her we’re having a circus for her sister’s birthday and asked her what that means. “It’s like a…circle,” she says. Her imagination sprouts with her vocabulary. Thoughts revealed, roundabout connections, her views on the world are coming to life with her increased vocabulary. “It’s a shoe,” she explains and stomps the shoe-shaped ginger across the table. She quacks her duck-shaped cracker at her sister. She wears a tee-shirt with a car on it and hangs a “bow tie,” a headband with a bow, around her neck. “I’m a boy.”
She plays with nice imaginary bears. She’s Superwoman when the bad bears come. There are monsters everywhere. They steal her lost toys. Monsters in her bedroom live in a tiny hole by the baseboard. They come out and eat her books. “They’re bad. They say, ‘no.’” “Let’s get out of here. From monsters.” She slams the door, panting. “We’re safe.” She gives me the thumbs up.
As their physical abilities, vocabulary, and imagination expand exponentially, my physical and mental capacities have shrunken in what I’ve dubbed the sleepy parent law of twos, as in two-year-olds are into EVERYTHING, two children are not easy, and two children, one mama-S.P.L.O.T.
Lately, my language skills have regressed to little more than sounds. The sound of the moment: kaboom. Everything, everyone kabooms. “Uh-oh, kaboom. Did you go kaboom? Climb down so you don’t kaboom again?” Later, as I’m cooking, I drop a carrot. “Kaboom,” I say aloud, to myself.
I take a monster spill on my toddler’s scooter. It was quite comical, a total slapstick moment. I went to move the scooter and my right foot somehow found its way onto the scooter. As I was still mentally coming to terms with the fact that I was now riding the scooter instead of picking it up, the scooter wobbled away and I wobbled down with it. I saw myself from above and was thankful there was a wall between my family and the unfortunate incident with the scooter- the kaboom heard around the world.
As they grow and change and I continue on my downward trajectory, I’m embracing the changes. On a rare adults-only night, kabooms pepper my conversation, and I’m okay with it. There’s too much beauty in their silly outbursts, sloppy kisses, sweet embraces and pats on the shoulder (the best!) to care about what I’ve lost in the process. I bumble on as my children burst into the scene, lighting up the room with their silliness, a mess in their wake, and I revert to child-like glee, the wonder of it all, pure joy and love. Who cares about me? They’re the stars of the show. As they continue on their paths upwards and outwards, I’m content to fall behind and watch. There’s so much to see. What more can I say? Kaboom.