The Exquisite Angst of Parenting Twins

June 6th, 2018

Twins on swings

This morning I made a grievous parenting error.

I gave both of my twin daughters water cups, but one was green, the other blue. What was I thinking? I nearly lost an eye in the battle that ensued over the blue cup. After several attempts at negotiating fell flat, I ran into the kitchen for another blue cup, but like a total amateur, did not notice that the original blue cup had a green lid, so when I returned with a blue cup with a blue lid (gasp), hysteria ensued.

“The next time we have twins,” I joked to my husband, “We’re only getting blue cups.” He did not laugh.

My paternal grandmother had two sets of twins about a year apart. Those were four or her ten kids. Did I mention that she was a single mom?

When I can’t get through a tense moment over cup color, I often think of her. Yes, she weighed about 400 pounds and always had a cigarette in one hand and a cocktail in the other. But, she survived to the point of grandchildren. Surely I can survive one measly set of twins?

Jury’s out on that.

Spicy little muffin.

Spicy little muffin.

At bedtime last night we had our usual melee over who got to sit in my lap.

Just so you know, my lap is definitely big enough for two children. But it’s not just about sitting in my lap; it’s about sitting alone in my lap while smirking triumphantly at your sister. It’s cutthroat.  

Once we sorted out that scuffle for the millionth time, it was time to pick out books.

I had thinned out the books in their room when they weren’t looking earlier in the bedtime “routine.” I took a few that they’ve outgrown and a few that I hate reading (enough monkeys jumping on the bed already, and I refuse to read about Christmas in June), and placed them near the stairs so that I’d remember to bring them downstairs and incinerate them, I mean, donate them to charity. Rookie move.

“Why are those books there?” Eliza asked.

I lied, “I’m just going to bring them to the downstairs bookshelves.”

Next thing I knew, we were ALL going downstairs to bring them to the bookshelves, but instead of achieving that seemingly simple goal, we came back upstairs with those same books, plus about fifteen more terrible ones. Fine. But then we had to go downstairs again — all of us — to find Eliza’s babydolls. Then upstairs with them. Then downstairs because it turned out we couldn’t find Phoebe’s, either. But they weren’t downstairs. Back upstairs, where they turned up in plain sight on the bookshelves, right below all the books we just shuffled.

Time to read!



First, Eliza takes all the books off the shelf, and methodically stacks them on her bed in order of size. I wait patiently, and when she’s done, I say, “Can we pick out three books now?”

“I’m not done, mama.” She puts all the books back on the shelf, but in no particular order, with the bindings all facing random directions, and stacked, so you can’t get the one on the bottom easily.  (I’ll say it again, why can’t they standardize the sizing of children’s books?)

Now it’s time to read.



She takes them all off the shelf again. Round two. Phoebe and I wait patiently. This happens three times. I try to sneak a book out of her pile to read; she freaks.

Finally, we get to the reading part of owning books. They could care less about this ritual, by the way, and at this point, they’re pretty much over books, so I choose one we haven’t read before from my own treasure trove of childhood favorites: Jabberwocky, the beloved Lewis Carroll book. The entire book is written in gibberish. It’s brilliant because it actually totally makes sense even though it’s made up of entirely made-up words. And the illustrations are sublime:




But here’s a tip: Jabberwocky is way too advanced, conceptually, for three-year olds. Lots of questions I couldn’t answer, and then they got bored, and we gave up halfway through.

I wonder if my grandmother read esoteric books to her toddlers. Probably not. She had a big lap, but who knows if she sat there patiently while her kids fought over it. She had eight other kids, and no husband, and certainly no nanny or mom around to help.

I bet they didn’t have fancy plastic 360 cups to fight over, either. Or multiracial babydolls. Or long drawn-out bedtime “routines.”

Sometimes I wish my grandmother had written a parenting book. It would have gone something like this, I’m sure:

“Put your kids in their bedroom. Ignore them until morning.”


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