Difficulty setting: twins
As a mother of twins, I've sometimes had people comment that "My kids were 12 [or 14 or 16] months apart, it was just like having twins!"
No. No, it's not. I'm not denying that having kids with a small age gap has its own challenges, but there are some problems that come with having children at exactly the same developmental stage.
Like toilet training.
Be warned: what lies ahead features mentions of poop and other bodily functions. If you're of a tender disposition, flee now!
My Saturday night was never going to be terrific. Hubby had been out since 6am, and wasn't due back until Sunday morning. I was going it alone. I was determined to make it all run smoothly. Around refereeing twin squabbles and bringing in five loads of dry laundry, I started dinner preparation.
My eldest arrived home from the neighbours with a terrible headache, and huddled next to the toilet crying with nausea. I got him to sleep while trying not to burn dinner. It was a juggling act.
Finally dinner was ready. I served it and called to the twins, who were playing in the backyard, "Dinner's ready! Come and wash your hands!"
My girl twin arrived at the back doorstep. I was about to thank her for being so prompt, when she announced "I pooped in mine undies!" Groaning and mentally resigning myself to a lukewarm dinner, I took her to the bathroom to clean up.
Meanwhile, my (naked) boy twin shrieked the neighbourhood down, because he was stuck in the apple tree. He is forbidden to climb it because he always gets stuck, and too many immature apples have been picked already. I yell reassuringly out the window while trying not to gag.
It's a messy job. "You've been poopy for a while." "Yeah, we were playing 'Ring a Rosie all fall down'." That explains a lot.
After scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing my hands, I rescue my naked bellowing boy from the tree and get them both dressed. They wash their hands and sit at the table.
I contemplate my congealing, unappealing plate, and decide to start dinner with ginner. I pour myself a long, cool gin, lime and lemonade, sit at the table and take a deep breath. We're going to have a civilised meal, damnit.
Unfortunately, Finn's idea of polite dinner-time conversation is "I pooped on the lawn!"
No. No no no. "Show me."
They lead me outside and point to a carefully arranged pile of immature apples and oranges. It is swarming with flies.
Dying inside a little, I take them back inside. They sit down happily to their meal while I gather plastic bags to do the necessary clean-up.
I scrub and scrub and scrub my hands, then sit down to eat. I can't stomach it. I reach for my gin, and promptly tip it over.
The twins chatter their way through dinner. Finally it's bathtime, another step closer to bedtime and quiet.
I start the bath running, and go to get a towel. When I come back to the bathroom, my girl twin is standing on the step-stool and somehow peeing a perfect parabola into the bathtub.
I grab her and put her on the toilet. She freaks out.
Meanwhile, my boy twin yells "I'm peeing in the bath!"
I take my girl twin off the toilet and put my boy twin on. While I'm trying to calm her down, he drops an entire roll of toilet paper into the loo.
While I'm fishing the sodden roll out, they both climb into the bath and start drinking the pee-water.
Shower, PJs, teeth, stories. Time for bed. I spend the next two hours putting them back into their room, as my "It's BEDtime, time for SLEEP!" mantra becomes more and more strained. It takes until 10pm before silence falls.
On the premise that silence is suspicious, I sneak up the hallway and quietly open the door. They're asleep! They're asleep! I creep in to savour a few moments of "they're so cute when they're asleep".
I try to change the offending nappy without waking the culprit.