Friday, February 20, 2009

I just knew

It happened for the first time yesterday and I'm having trouble containing my excitement.
I was uploading images from our digital camera onto the computer when I saw a photo of one of the boys. My first thought--my very first and very confident thought--was, that's Jonny!
Moments later, it happened again, this time in a photo of the boys together. I immediately recognized Matty on the right.
Now, I know I sound like a horrible mother, so I should say that I have always been able to figure out who is who in photos eventually. I look at their clothes, at the toys in their hands, at the food on their faces. Sometimes, I have to squint a little and study the blue veins on the bridges of their noses (thick, Jonathan; thin, Matthew).
With time, I can identify them.
But this was different.
This time I just knew.
Right away.
I've never been so instantly sure.
And I know why.
Matthew and Jonathan are growing up and as they grow, their personalities are beginning to break through in a physical way--even in photos.
In the photo of Jonathan (below), he has this look on his face that belongs only to him.
Matthew has become a ham with cameras. He scrunches his face into a funny little smile and tilts his head up, like he did in yesterday's photo.
This last photo, I posted just for fun!
Jon is on the right. Is it love or is he trying to get a cookie out of his brother's mouth?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Twins are dangerous

Twins are dangerous, especially at two years old.
I concluded that today when I realized that I couldn't do dishes with fresh cuts on three of my knuckles on my right hand. Only one injury was new, but the other two had occurred within the past 24 hours and had reopened during the last incident.
All three can be blamed on the twins.
The first knuckle scratch happened when I was trying to scoop food up from underneath the dining room table. The twins had tossed their lunch freely throughout the dining room, a favorite game of theirs. I was hurrying because Jonathan was anxious to squish the very-soft green beans into the floorboards.
I turned a bit too quickly and hit my head.
As I reached for my head, I scraped my knuckle on the rough wood under the table.
The second incident was diaper-related.
I was reaching for a diaper in the cabinet above the changing table while trying to keep Matthew from kicking me. He does that when he prefers nakedness and I insist on clothing. Just as my hand grasped the diaper, I got a foot in my stomach. I yanked my right hand back and scraped the knuckle on the cabinet door.
The third incident occurred this morning.
Both boys had stripped while I was in the bathroom. I found Matthew leaning causally against the sofa while peeing on the carpet. I rushed to get him on a potty and spied Jonathan peeing on the hardwood by the front door.
It was too late for Matthew anyway, so I put him down and grabbed some paper towel, hoping to at least soak up some of Jonathan's mess before anyone slid in it. As I passed Matthew, he started peeing again.
I threw my arms out in exasperation and caught my knuckles on the edge of the counter top, creating a new cut and reopening the other two.
To make matters worse, I have a Band-Aid on my fingertip. That incident was unrelated. I was trying to re-cork a bottle of wine and cut my finger on some remaining foil.
But wait.
Why did I drink that red wine last night?
Oh yea, the twins.
See what I mean?
Twins are dangerous.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Double time-outs: the logistics

Years before I got pregnant with the twins, I knew a woman who had identical girls. Like my boys, they were feisty. She had tried giving them time-outs in pack-n-plays, but it didn't work. They just played, even with no toys.
So she locked them in the laundry room.
I was horrified.
She insisted that she had no choice, especially when she had to do two time-outs at once. She said that I didn't understand because I didn't have twins. My older kids are 17 months apart. Singleton moms just didn't get it, she said.
She was right.
I didn't understand then and I don't understand now, even with feisty toddler twins of my own.
What she did was wrong.
It is possible to give double time-outs without locking twins in laundry rooms. For a while, I did simultaneous time-outs almost daily, and Matthew and Jonathan are far bigger and stronger than her girls were at their age.
It's not pretty and it's not fun, but it is possible.
Here's how I do it:
I squat down, grab both boys and sit on my heels. I pull one twin on each knee and, for each child, I bring one of my arms over his shoulder and diagonally across his chest like a seat belt. Then I grab one of his thighs and he is locked in.
He can't get out.
I very awkwardly place my head between theirs so that if they thrash about, their heads will hit my cheeks instead of each other's skulls. Then I count two minutes in my head and pray that my arms will hold out.
When it's over, they both get a reminder, a hug and kiss.
I started the double time-outs because the boys tend to take advantage of each other's distress. If one child is getting a time-out, the other will often commit the same offense just to test me. It took some time, but they are finally learning that I am stronger, more clever and more determined than they are.
More often, I am doing one time-out at a time.
They are even learning to sit for the duration with only occasional repositioning (Well, okay, every 15 seconds or so).
As for my friend, she stopped the laundry room time-outs after one daughter found a hanger on top of the dryer and got the hook caught in her mouth. Her daughter recovered just fine, but my friend was shaken.
I'm just sorry it took an injury for her to come to her senses.