I remember when I first read Erma Bombeck’s wonderful book I thought she made up all the craziness she wrote about. But I also thought that maybe somewhere in the midst of her jokes would be some tidbit of wisdom that would help me get a handle on the insanity at my house. Alas, all I got was a good laugh.
Looking back on those early years when the kids were young – five between the ages of 7 and 1 – I wonder how we survived with sanity intact. Or maybe that’s the deal. Our sanity is not intact. We only think it is.
But also looking back, I don’t know that I would have changed much about it. Oh, maybe it would have been nice to be rich, or even comfortable financially. I would have loved a bigger house to contain a growing family. And we could have done without some of the turmoil along the way. What I would never want to change, however, is the fun we had, or even the nonsense that became funny long after the fact.
Such as the morning my doorbell rang at six o’clock. I didn’t think anyone would be paying a social call at that hour, so it had to be an emergency. I jumped out of bed, tripped over the dog, stubbed my toe and jump-hopped to the door. Opened said door to see my neighbor, Jessica, holding the hands of my twins. “Do these belong to you?”
Yikes. No doubt. There they were. Paul and Dany dressed in Sesame Street PJs and nothing else. Well, actually they each also had a diaper, hanging low from a night’s accumulation.
“Oh my gosh,” I said, pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t still asleep and having a nightmare.
“I found them walking down the street,” Jessica said. She was holding the twins away from her suit, the effort making her look like a scarecrow—if a scarecrow would ever be dressed in a Brooks Brothers suit.
I reached out to take their hands. “I am so sorry. I have no idea how they got outside.”
Her look said, “Of course not.” But she offered a smile. One of those “we are both women in this rat race together” smiles.
But we weren’t in the same rat race at all.
Jessica, without child, was a financial advisor. She went to work everyday. If we lived in New York and not a suburb of Dallas, she might have been on her way to assault Wall Street in that finely turned out suit. I, on the other hand, was dressed to assault the kitchen in my tee shirt and Capri pants. She didn’t even have a hair out of place – despite the wind whipping down our street at about 25 MPH – and mine was a tangled mess. Her make-up could have been applied by a pro, I didn’t even know where my make up was.
“It’s a good thing I found them,” Jessica said, putting a great deal of emphasis on the “I”. “Otherwise God knows what could have happened.”
“Yes, you’re right.” What else could I say? Her logic was perfect. “Thank you. Thank you so much.”
I hurried the twins inside before Jessica could say anything else to make me feel lower than a worm.
In the twins’ bedroom, I discovered how the great escape had occurred. The screen was pushed out of the low window facing the porch. No doubt, thanks to Dany. She was the reason there was no furniture in the room and the crib mattresses were on the floor and the bureau was turned against the wall. At nine months of age, Dany had started walking. And climbing. She climbed over the crib rails to get in bed with Paul.
Then she discovered that she could pull the dresser drawers out and use them like a ladder to get to all the interesting stuff on top of the dresser. Forget curtains. She’d pulled them down so many times it wasn’t worth the effort to put them back.
And don’t you dare ask me where the discipline was. I challenge anyone to try to discipline a one-year-old. Especially since most of these shenanigans occurred in the middle of the night. When was I supposed to sleep?
NOTE* This is more from my new book in progress