Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Top Ten: K & O in Unsupervised Moments

Being on maternity leave this summer has meant that I've been spending a lot of quality time with not only Meera, but with Kyle and Owen as well. It is great. It is exhausting. And, at times, yes, it is absolutely exasperating. These two are two handfuls. The word "active" is the nice word we've chosen to use for it. And lordy can they ever get into mischief (again, "mischief" is a nice word for it). Separated, they are good as gold (for example, when they are each in their own separate rooms during their 'rest hour' each day they are well behaved and completely trustworthy). But together it is a different story. Mayhem can occur so quickly that you barely have time to realize what's happened once it's happened. You can't leave them alone for five minutes without something crazy going down by the time you're re-entering the room. As we have long said -- 'with these two it isn't just times two, it is times two squared to the exponential degree.' There is some sort of indescribable dynamic between them. Their energy is literally endless, their ability for mischief is boundless. The problem is, now that Meera's in the picture, I've got to leave them alone for five minutes (or sometimes even ten, or -- gasp! -- maybe even fifteen). Her diaper changes are no problem (I got very quick at that with having had twins in diapers not too long ago)... but really now-- how quickly can you clean up, undress, and re-dress a spit-up covered baby? how quickly can you feed a baby (we're talking with a breast here folks, not the fast flow bottle)? how quickly can you get a fussy baby down for a nap??? It is now necessary for quality time with Kyle and Owen to be interrupted by periods of time when they're left alone... to their own devices... without the direct monitoring and supervision of a responsible adult right there in the very same room with them. Now, believe me, I wouldn't leave them unattended by choice... but given the Baby Sister Scenario it is now... unfortunately... unavoidable. Even more frightening is the fact that sometimes K & O need to be left alone in a room for a couple of minutes with Meera. I've got to run to the bathroom, or answer the phone, or get the door, or step outside to check whatever is on the grill for dinner. Now that (the boys. with Meera. alone. without direct supervision. for 120 long seconds.) is a true test of one's capacity for risk-taking. Here are the top ten things my precious angels have done while I've left the room for a few minutes so far this summer:

  1. One day we were just finishing lunch and I had to bring Meera up to her room for a nap. I told K & O to go wash their hands and then play quietly until I came back downstairs. I found them 10 minutes later, in the downstairs bathroom, standing in water, mirror covered with dripping water and soap, drenched hand towels everywhere. Their shirts, shorts, and underpants were soaked and soapy. Their hair was dripping wet and sudsy. Their faces and necks were covered in thick foamy handsoap. They said they were "shaving." ??!?!???

  2. One day I had finally gotten Meera to sleep in her crib. Downstairs I was delighted to find the boys playing nicely in the playroom. On cloud 9 with the status of things in the homestead I grabbed the baby monitor and went to the kitchen to pour myself some coffee. I had just filled the mug when I heard them... through the baby monitor: "Hi Meera! Hi my baby! Did you have a good nap baby girl?!" And then the screeching scream that can only be described as 'newborn being jolted and startled awake by twin 4 year old brothers.' I ran up the stairs to M's room and found them climbing the crib rails, reaching for the mobile, the mobile swinging wildly, K & O trying desperately (but unsuccessfully) to wind it so that the music would play. "WHAT ARE YOU DOOOOOOOOOING????!" I screamed (over Meera's screams) "She is done with her nap and she wants her mobile!" they explained. ??!?!??

  3. One day I was getting Meera cleaned up from a major spit-up explosion. I thought the boys were playing in Kyle's room. I found them later, in me and Braydon's bathroom. Each at one sink. Both faucets blasting hot water. Both sinks clogged... with toothpaste. Toothpaste tube completely emptied (it had been a brand new tube that morning). Each boy industriously scrubbing their respective sinks with toothbrushes, a minty fresh scent filling the steamy bathroom. "Hi Mommy! We're making coffee! And brushing the sinks!" ??!?!???

  4. One day I was nursing Meera upstairs in her room. I noticed that the house was way too quiet. Which worried me greatly. After nursing I came downstairs to find 400 feet of string (yes, 400 feet) strung in circles around and around the interior of the house -- from the playroom, through the foyer, through Braydon's office, through the kitchen, through the family room, through the hall, and back through the playroom again many many many times. Around and around and around. It was strung so tightly that whole pieces of furniture had shifted positions. ??!?!???

  5. One day we were in the family room -- the boys were watching a video and Meera was sitting in her swing. The phone rang. I ran to get it. I had just picked it up when I heard Kyle shouting "No! No! No! No!" Something about it made me very concerned. I ran back to the family room and found Owen standing up, holding Meera in a very awkward (read between the lines: a seriously-dangerous-to-a-newborn) position. Owen turned and saw me then dropped her - quick as a flash - back down to the swing. She fell in a shriveled slump onto the swing, her head/neck completely flopped down, dangling. After the biggest time out he's ever had in his entire life, Owen learned that this sort of thing could kill babies. He explained to me later, very earnestly: "I wanted to hold her. I didn't want to kill her." Rest assured that will never happen again.

  6. Same video/swing scenario as number 5 above, except that I had to leave to go to the bathroom (the phone didn't ring). From the bathroom I hear Meera let out a terrifying cry that sounds like she's truly being tortured. I get out of there as quickly as humanly possible and take off back to the family room. Both boys are hovering over her and the plastic baby toy that had been dangling from the top of the swing is now on Meera's lap. Meera is screaming, with a slight bump on her forehead that is quickly turning red. Kyle, who is frantic, and now crying so hard he is hyperventilating, cries out: "I wanted to pull the toy for her. I didn't want to kill her." Again, you can rest assured that will never happen again.

  7. One day we had just finished breakfast when I heard Meera on the baby monitor and had to go get her up from an early morning nap. I told the boys to put their dishes in the sink and then play nicely while I was upstairs. From upstairs all sounded well down below. I decided to go ahead and nurse her in her room. After nursing and changing Meera's diaper I came back downstairs to discover both boys, standing on their stools, at the kitchen sink, steaming hot sudsy soapy bubbly water overflowing onto the counters and running down onto the floor, soaking kitchen floor and the area rug beneath the sink. Sudsy soapy bubbly beyond belief. Cheerily they exclaimed, "We're washing our dishes for you Mom!" During the clean up of this mess I discovered that they had emptied a solid half of an entire large bottle of dish soap. ??!?!???

  8. One day they were playing their usual--- 'going on a trip on an airplane' (they play this everyday). This involves lining up chairs to be 'the airplane,' packing bags full of as many items from around the house that they can stuff in them, laying down on the floor any blankets they can get their hands on, etc. They usually take every single musical instrument they have on their trips too. (This is highly intricate and elaborate play which always ultimately results in a major clean up project afterwards.) Anyway, on this particular day they added a new twist (which they quickly learned to omit from future versions of this play after they saw my reaction to it)... I was talking on the phone for a few minutes and not really paying attention to what they were doing. When I got off the phone I found them running back and forth, back and forth, back and forth from their 'airplane' to the refrigerator. Half of the contents of the fridge were laid out all over, in, around, on, under the chairs/blankets/bags/musical instruments, etc. Ketchup, pickles, orange juice, eggs, containers of dinner leftovers, deli turkey, carrots, a bottle of breastmilk, maple syrup, a jar of salsa, yogurt, etc.... everywhere. As I came onto the scene I hear them: "Do we have enough snacks?! This is going to be a looooong trip! We need lots of snacks on this airplane! We need to get more snacks!!!" and so on.

  9. One day I was unloading and re-loading the dishwasher in the kitchen. We were in the midst of a heat wave and the AC had been running since early that morning. In the family room the boys were playing 'build a beaver house' (?? --another thing they regularly play-- I understand their fascination with travel, but this beaver house thing I really don't get). Anyway, they were doing what they always do when they play this -- covering furniture with blankets and creating tunnels to crawl through, pretending to "go to the river to catch fish," etc. I finished in the kitchen and went to check in on them. As soon as I walked into the room I felt a blast of hot, humid air, blankets laid out everywhere, and they are nowhere to be seen. I quickly discover that not only have they opened up one of the windows, but have somehow managed to knock the screen out. They have crawled out the window and are standing outside, just below the window, on top of the air conditioning unit beneath it. The air conditioning vent is blowing the hot air from inside the house upward, and they are standing there, very serious looks on their faces, arms outstretched, dripping with sweat. As I approach the window they see me and call out to me loudly (so as to raise their voices above the sound of the AC): "Mommy! Look at us! We're beavers and we're hang-gliding!!!!!"

  10. One day we were coming in from the pool. I told the boys to take off their wet bathing suits and put them in the laundry room while I changed Meera's diaper. I finished with the diaper and couldn't find the boys anywhere in the house. I looked out the window and saw them riding their bicycles up the driveway, waving wildly to a garbage truck that was passing by on the road, and they were fully completely 100% naked. ??!?!???


Paige Mann said...

Thank you thank you thank you for a much needed laugh this morning!!! What a great post!

Did you get the picture of Rock & Patrick I sent you last month? Hope it made it through! If not I will gladly re-send it!


Amy said...

Bless your heart. Hubby is a twin and their mother has stories a lot like yours. Thankfully ours came one at a time. I'd say both my daughters are at risk for twins though. Thanks for sharing. I needed a laugh. Meera will be one tough cookie.

Rose Anne said...

Oh my! Praying for your strength! they have very good imaginations that's for sure....
I too could'nt help laughing.
Rose Anne

Candis said...

Wow! I sure admire your stoicism and tolerance level. Their interests and energy will parlay themselves into something magnificent one day, but in the meantime those turbo-twins would be getting more than a time out from me. ;-)
I think this is precisely why au pairs exist. Have you considered giving yourself a break and hiring a helper for a couple of hours each day? It takes a village...


Anonymous said...

The boys sound bored (I am a teacher)and in need of pre-school during the week where all their energy can be channeled into creative and structured play activities.

Heather said...

Candis & Anonymous -- please keep in mind, I've been working on this list since the end of May! LOL!! K & O aren't like this everyday! :)
Remember, they just turned four, they are super active boys, and they are often very well behaved. And when they misbehave (which yes, as this post shows, they certainly do!), they get in *serious* trouble Candis, don't worry!!! Time outs here are big time -- not your typical 'sit-on-a-naughty-mat' sort of deal --don't worry!! They have a babysitter (Alex, our wonderful nanny) who has been taking them three days a week this summer for awesome outings. And while they are with me we always spend some time during the day on structred activities -- but I do beleive it is good for them to have good chunks of time for unstructured play. School will start for them again the first week of September (they finished the school year in mid-June... they go to a Waldorf School 5 days/week during the school year)... believe me, they are NOT bored!!!!!!!! But nothing-- I mean NOTHING-- can channel "all their energy"... !! LOL! ;0

Sarah (and Mark) said...

This post made me roll in my chair! You are an AMAZING mama. They definitely don't sound bored...they sound like super smart, creative 4 year old boys! I understand having to leave your child(ren) unattended, with a 6 month old and 20 month old--it's just not possible to always be 2 places at once (and a lady's got to use the restroom every once in awhile)! I just feel sorry that you've had to do so much cleanup this least the soap and water always seem to be provided in advance!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm mama to a 5 year-old ball of Haitian energy who attends preschool, speech therapy, occupational therapy, martial arts class, and soccer practice (aka not bored!). Also, I am a teacher. My little guy could and would (and will and does) get into similar "mischief" that is not always funny at the time but makes for a hysterical story later! I can only imagine what would happen if it was multiplied by two - LOL!!!!
Also, I totally agree with you that kiddos need time for unstructured play and learning to handle that time (entertain themselves without TV, video games, or planned activities) is part of learning to be content and comfortable within themselves as adults:)
Anyway, thanks for the laugh -- and when we figure out how to bottle this "Haitian boy childhood energy" we will be rich!!!!!

Troy & Tara Livesay said...

LOL. You poor woman.

Now I know you would not think I am a horrid Mom ... the number of times Lydie has been in danger as a result of the big boys around here ... yikes.

Anonymous said...

Hysterical! Thanks for sharing. As for the boys being "bored", I don't think so. I am a teacher also. Sounds like their imagination is going overtime. Fabulous.


Anonymous said...

Coming out of the secret blog-reading closet just to say that you don't ever have to defend your parenting - you know your children best and you are obviously doing an amazing job. (I am not a teacher).


Heather said...

Thanks Ellen & all! This post was just supposed to be *funny*! I myself find it absolutely rolling on the floor hysterical! I find much joy in my children and my experience of them -- I know I don't need to defend myself- (my kids are the proof in the pudding -- the happiest most self-confident kids you'll ever meet AND they say please and thank you). ;)
If we can't be honest about our own parenting challenges and our kids' misbehavior then we're just faking it, and what is the good in that?! I hope this post will give everyone reading a good 'ole laugh! Yes, it is a laugh at my expense but don't worry- I can handle it! :)

Holli said...

so we were just put on THE waiting list for siblings/twins - really hoping for twins (boy/open) now I am rethinking!----:) really I will just make sure no baby sister follows!:) or at least anytime soon!
You really never disappoint - I open your blog and smile word after word after word!!!

Anonymous said...

I love this post! It brings back
so many memories of my teenage sons
when they were that age! My older
son did the rope around the entire house once too! It was like a huge spider web!
A Canadian reader

Anonymous said...


Next time give some time parameters :).

Anonymous said...


Another hysterical post. Clearly the boys feel free to explore and create, both of which are essential to healthy growth, as you well know. They are truly amazing, and that's certainly in large part thanks to what you do and who you are (along with Braydon of course). Hard to imagine two children who are less bored.


The Jabber said...

I read this post with the uncomfortable sensation that my 'irish twin' sister and I did many, many of these exact things. My poor mother.

The one I remember the most is when we took off with a jar full of salt-water taffy and tried to sell it to the neighbors for a penny a piece. A neighbor around the block brought us back at dusk, and man, did we get a spanking!

Rose said...

Can you please tell me how you managed to smile with all the noise they were making?

They are so extremely lucky. I remember how we had to whisper and tip toe around the house whenever there was a newborn. I cannot believe you're not suffering from daily headaches with all that noise.

And Meera? No comment necessary. I think even a semi-deaf person would not be able to sleep through that and meera is a freakin newborn (excuse the french :D)

Jen said...

I had to laugh at the boys antics. I have five kidddos and I am sure they have done the same stuff if not worse! Bored? doesn't sound like it. Sounds more like two litle guys with ferocious imaginations and a zest for the fun in lfe we all take for granted!

Claudia said...

Ohhhh Heather. Thank you ever so much for the recent post. I was laughing so hard I was crying. The antics that K & O do brought back so many memories from when I was little with my brother.

Then it brought back many, many memories of what my two teenagers did when they were little.

I commend you so very much for all that you do. You are like Super Mom and a great inspiration.

Love and Hugs,

Maia said...

This is hilarious!

Anonymous said...

OMG! Remember Dennis the Menace (or are you too young b/c i mean the original version :)- K&O could have their own TV show!! Anything can be bought on the net, these days- I'd look into a force field to surround Meera when you aren't holding her :)

Malia's Mama
PS: I am a teacher, too, and they do not sound "bored", they sound super imaginative!

me said...

I LOVE this post! These are the kind of things you just can't make up. I appreciate their fiesty-ness and your ability to let them be little people who are figuring things out by doing. Thanks for sharing.

Ani said...

This is the funniest post I've read in a while (followed closely by the video below)... Those are some creative, imaginative kids - what wonderful traits! Thanks for sharing, you put my life with my 1 tornado into perspective ;)

Single PAP said...

LOL that was a funny post!
next time try to get some pictures. we'd love to see that!

Brittany said...

Awww. "I just wanted to hold her! I didn't want to KILL her!!" My mother enjoys telling the story of the time my infant brother went missing from his carseat in the living room and my stuffed clown doll was in baby brother's place. 4-year-old me had kind of borrowed him and put him in the bottom drawer of my dresser drawers for safekeeping. Don't worry; he survived. But just to be safe, maybe get one of those little 'Kid Alert' clips and stick it on Meera, just in case she shows up under the bed or something one day.

Also...How do you NOT just turn on the TV and plop them in front of Dora for a long while? I've only ever babysat (the longest time being an overnight from Friday afternoon to late Saturday evening) and those short periods of time watching relatively well-behaved kids made me really yearn for childhood's good friends, PBS and Nick Jr. But I really think that little kids shouldn't watch TV much so I try not to give up and turn on Ruby and Max, but man, it's tough not to. Because you just know that 9 times out of 10, the kid will be totally captivated and immediately cease and desist with all wacky hijinks and mischievous mayhem. So I just don't know how you (and other parents) do it! Maybe I'll figure out the answer by the time I'm ready to acquire a child of my own.

glamah16 said...

I am laughing my head off, especially at the last image. Just wait until Meera turns 2. Those two boys are great.

Cloudscome said...

Thank you for this. My house is crazy too and I don't even have twins plus and infant. All that creativity and intelligence mixed with high energy = parental headaches!

Adopting1Soon said...

Bored? WTF? These are some seriously creative little boys! fishing in the livingroom? That takes imagination! It's wonderful!
Omg, I seriously loved reading this list. They are going to have WONDERFUl memories of their childhoods. "Remember that time we were beavers and went hang-gliding?" AHAHAHAHAHA!!!!