Paper Man: he’s a survivor

Allow me to introduce you to Paper Man, one of Mia’s latest school projects.

I believe the assignment was benign enough: construct a figure, draw a face, glue on some hearts and eyes (What eyes, you ask? We’ll get to that in a minute), etc. It was only when Mia brought Paper Man to the table after dinner one night that we learned his backstory. And what a riveting story it is.

Turns out Paper Man has been attacked by bull sharks and great whites. 200 times. See that splotch by his left arm that trails down to his foot? That’s his bleeding heart. Those eyes you were wondering about? Gone. Replaced by makeshift eyes that “don’t work, but he gots to have eyes.” The squiggly mass inside the circle on his right knee? His brain. Every other noticeable marking is either bone, stitches, dried blood or skin grafts (or as Mia says, “They had to make new skin for him because the sharks ate it all”). Oh, and if you thought that triangular shape on top of his head is a hat you’d be wrong. It’s a cone, as in conehead. As if the guy didn’t have enough troubles.

Mia assures me Paper Man is done with the water. He’s had enough. He’s going to travel the world in a hot air balloon now. Good call, Paper Man. Good call.

*In totally unrelated news, Zach let her watch Shark Week this summer. I’m so relieved it didn’t have an effect on her at all.

**In his defense, he didn’t let her watch the attack shows, only the ones where they dive with sharks, study them, etc. Still, we’re both banned from ever going into the ocean again per Mia.


In Which I Reflect On Fifteen Months With Twins

I took the boys to the grocery store the other day, something I rarely do because 1) they’re so grabby! and 2) have you ever noticed that most shopping carts have one seat for one baby/toddler? I didn’t before I had twins. Clearly, mothers of multiples are discriminated against by mass market retailers. So, anyway, we were at the store quietly going about our business when a woman rushed up behind me and in one long breath wanted to know the following: are they fraternal (we don’t know), who’s older (Wyatt, by less than a minute), did I go into labor early (define “early”), and are they always this good (define “good”). And the whole time Wyatt flashed his baby blues and beamed up at her, while Luke squinted his into slits and stared her down.

“You have one who laughs at the world and one who studies it,” she said.

It was only later that I realized how spot on she was, which made me think how little I think of them as individuals. (And just when I think I’ve got them all figured out they go and switch personalities on me.) So, in honor of their 15-month birthdays, I am reflecting.

My Baby A. A boy of light.

Your smile is usually the first thing people remark about you. A wide-open smile that spreads across your face and lights up your eyes. You like people. I mean, you are aware of them, of their attention, their presence, in a way that makes me think you get it. Just It. You say Mama and Hi. You’re working on Down and No. You’re a bubble of laughter and energy, and I can tell you’re going to be funny. You’re always happy, always game, always willing to walk into someone’s arms. You do this movement (a dance?) that resembles a surfer in slow motion. Sometimes you walk backwards just because. You scream. When you’re happy, when you’re mad, when you’re tired or hungry, or in response to other screams or noises that resemble screams. Mia likes to say, “I think our neighbors heard that one.”

The other day when we were playing, you stopped what you were doing like you had just decided something, walked up to me and kissed me square on the mouth. Then you smiled and did it again before moving on. Confession: I don’t remember the first time your sister kissed me and meant it. Luke has yet to do it. But this one? This was one glorious first kiss.

My Baby B. A boy of sweetness.

In many ways I consider you our bonus baby. The one we didn’t plan for, the one who took us by surprise. The one who negotiated behind the scenes to come along for the ride. Whereas your brother came into the world screaming (see above), you were silent. “Why isn’t he crying?” I asked. And then the NICU nurse was talking to your Dad, and you were whisked away before I ever saw you (or heard you). You are still the quietest of our three. You’re the cuddliest too, melting into me when I hold you, your head nestled into the crook of my neck, your curls tickling my cheek. You study everything, inspect the workings of toys, crawl into narrow crevices, discover hidden wires, flop on your stomach to investigate the underbellies of furniture.

You’re a pickier eater than your brother but not as picky as your sister. You drop your food off your tray and I say no. You smile. You climb the pillows to get to the window blinds and I say no. You smile. You open drawers, pull out all the contents and I say no. You smile. When I walk into the room you wave with both hands and say, Hiiiiiiii. When you want to be held you say Mama. Had you not come along for the ride, I believe I always would have felt there was another soul out there waiting for us to find him. To find you.

*I had planned to post this two days ago but Luke got sick, then Wyatt got sick. And, as you can imagine, it’s incredibly easy to got loads of stuff done with two little people attached to you at all times.

How to Survive in Nature

We went to the park on Sunday for Zach’s company picnic because we didn’t get the memo that only kidless employees were invited. Or maybe the ones with kids were just smart enough to stay home. But we thought, Picnic! Family! Fun! so off we went. Partly because it took us two hours to get out the door and partly because we took the scenic route (who needs directions?), we arrived one fashionable hour late.

We got everyone out of the car, schlepped our caravan of ten thousand bags and children to an overgrown wet patch of grass a grassy knoll in the shade, and set up shop among the twenty-something interns playing volleyball. Even though I asked Mia to use the bathroom before we left home because there might not be a restroom at the park, she promised that she JUST WENT and absolutely could not, would not go again. But what kind of parent takes a child at their word when said child still does not understand the difference between one minute and one hour? Me. I do. I’m guessing that when Mia said she JUST WENT she meant she just went…after breakfast.

“Mommy, I really have to go to the bathroom.”

As luck would have it, the park did have a bathroom. (Yay!) It was only when I realized that we’d have to cross a desert to get there that I decided to come up with a Plan B. Forever after this will be known as the day I taught Mia how to pee in the bushes. “Squat low, but not too low. Move your feet apart. More. Angle your body like so. Yes, I see the squirrels. Focus. No, you cannot wipe with a leaf.” She was a natural, actually. Either that, or I just discovered some serious “how to survive in nature” teaching skills that have lain dormant all these years.


Dear Mia,
Here we are, six months into 5 and part of me is still clinging to 4. While you jumped happily to 5 I quietly stole glances at a baby you in my rear view mirror.

I know why you left 4 behind without so much as a glance over your shoulder. I get it. 4 brought not one but two baby brothers. Two baby brothers who cried at all hours of the night, waking you up at midnight, 3 a.m., 6 a.m. Two baby brothers whose round eyes and tiny fingers tempted visitors away from you. Two baby brothers who needed me to hold them, feed them, change them, walk with them. And there were never enough arms. There was never enough sleep. There was never enough me. 4 was a blur. 4 is the year I wish I could do over. Somehow I would make more time. But I didn’t, and I can’t, and now I’m left with vague memories and few pictures.
The one defining memory of your year of 4 was when we took you to New York for the first time last fall, leaving your grandmothers to split duty between the boys. The joy in your smile, your step, the way you nuzzled the back of my hand with your nose, filled me to overflowing but also made it painfully clear how much we had not been with you, not devoted ourselves to you. That trip was a blessing, the way we were able to pause life as it had become, and just be. This is the reason I started this blog, really. To capture you and your brothers in the moment, to be present, to remember.
5 has brought attitude, independence, a certain lilt to your voice slanting surely to 16. You check the tags of your clothing now to be sure they say 5, though XS is acceptable. 6 is better, 4 suddenly too small. You choose your own outfits and won’t be edited so I don’t try (mostly). You talk about boyfriends and love. You tell me a boy in your class is your boyfriend and I ask what that means. “It means we play together and have fun.” And this is true so we don’t say anymore about it as you toss the stone and skip to 5 on our hopscotch.
When you were 3 you asked when you could ride a school bus. “When you’re five,” I said. And then I blinked and you were climbing the steps of the bus, waving at me from your seat. The one without a seat belt. The one whose driver I did not know. This was the first of letting go. The first of trusting the world and fate to hold you and carry you home to me.
Every day you take one more step away from 4, one more closer to 6, and I continue to play catch-up. But tonight you will still ask for an “appletizer” before dinner. Spanish-speaking people will still be from Spanishland. And you will still ask if five minutes is a short time or a long time (and won’t accept my answer of “It depends”). Tonight I will lay in bed with you and sing Winter Wonderland as I have every night for the past five and a half years, embracing our version that has morphed through the years into a Katy Perry Christmas mix.