Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ode to Miss Mary

In a few moments, I will get Jonathan and Matthew from their sitter's for the last time.
We leave Cincinnati on Sunday for a new life in rural Pennsylvania, where they will be constantly immersed in the love and support of family.
We have no family here.
But we do have Mary.
And leaving her will be hard.
Very hard.
I had given up on finding a part-time sitter for the twins nearly two years ago when she came along. My criteria was simple: no guns, no pools, no smokers. I made that clear before I interviewed caregivers. Yet, six interviews later, I found that only one had been truthful with me, but her house was not suitable for highly active identical twins.
I was depressed.
I wanted to write.
Matthew and Jonathan needed socialization.
I mentioned my dilemma to a neighbor.
And she mentioned Mary.
Mary works as a nanny for this neighbor. She is a former preschool director with an obvious adoration for children. She was thrilled to take Matthew and Jonathan into my neighbor's home for three mornings, two or three days a week. Our neighbor was also happy to have playmates for her two children.
Matthew and Jonathan never cried when I dropped them off.
Only when I picked them up.
Mary read to them, she painted with them, she sang with them, she cuddled them, she rocked them, she laughed with them. And she never needed name tags. Matthew and Jonathan do not understand that they won't see Mary again, but I do.
And this walk down the street today will be hard.
I tried to find a card that expressed our feelings for her.
But I couldn't.
Nothing out there sufficed.
So I wrote and this is what came out:

(Disclaimer: I am no poet!)

Miss Mary

From the moment we met
you saw us as two,
not one.
We knew that.
We felt that.
you always nurtured our oneness.
You let it grow.
You let us be,
and helped us to become.
You cautioned us with gentle hands,
guided us with patient voice,
smiled for us
with a warmth that could only be
Real love.
Love for Matt.
Love for Jon.
Love for Matt and Jon.
There will never be another Miss Mary.
There never could be.
We will miss you
Miss Mary.
We will miss you

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The potty that divides them

Jonathan has thrown me for a loop.
It's been two months since Matthew became a "big boy" and started wearing underwear and Jonathan still wants nothing to do with the potty.
I persuaded him to pee on the potty once, but only through trickery and he's not about to fall for that again. Jonathan is breaking the pattern he and Matthew have followed since birth: he has always allowed Matthew to perfect the major physical milestones and then, just as we admit the need for professional intervention, he achieves the milestone and surpasses his twin within days.
Not this time.
If we even suggest that he pee in his little Bjorn potty, or on the toilet, or while sitting on the ring on the toilet, or while standing in the bathroom next to the toilet, or in any darned way he pleases, he clenches his fists with his arms at his sides, adopts a deep voice and growls, "no."
I am perplexed.
We have tried pushing him, bribing him, letting him be.
Nothing works.
Jonathan has sought out every other way in which to express his maturity.
While Matthew is comfortable in his 3-year-old skin, Jonathan is 8 years old most days. Some days he's 9. Today he was 10, like his big brother Riley, he said. He was 18 last week because he wanted to be old enough to drive a bus.
He screams, hollers and take the spatula out of my hands when I cook because he wants to do it too. He take the grapes from the refrigerator, carries them to the table and plucks off his own.
He puts them back.
He was furious the other day because he wanted to start the car and I wouldn't let him.
He puts on his own shoes now. He opens all doors by himself. He pushes a chair up to the counter when the phone rings and tries to answer it before I can. He wipes tables with sponges. He cleans melted Popsicle from the floor with paper towel. He brushes his own teeth morning and night and fights me bitterly when I insist on a turn.
But he will not pee on the potty.
I am defeated, deflated, discouraged.
I think.
There is one possibility, one hope that I cling to. It occurred to me this afternoon as I tossed Matthew's moist underwear and shorts down the laundry shoot.
Matthew still has accidents.
He's getting better and some days he has none. But on most days, especially near bedtime, we can count on either a trickle or a puddle. Matthew grows too tired or too distracted to get to the bathroom on time and, at that hour, Jonathan is rarely far away.
He sees it.
Matthew is potty trained in our eyes, but maybe not in Jonathan's. Maybe Jonathan is still waiting for perfection. Maybe Jonathan will not put his pee where it belongs until Matthew has made it through a few days in a row accident free.
Jonathan is a demanding little guy.
And he can be awfully hard on his identical twin.
Perhaps the pattern isn't really broken.
Maybe we're just looking at it from the wrong perspective.
I hope.