Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Milestones in twin parenting - the "toilet duck moment"

A few years back, when my twins were still tiny, I often relied upon the wisdom of the Mumsnet Talk boards to guide me (as in, How the f**k am I supposed to feed two babies at once, while simultaneously making school lunches, testing at least two other children's spellings for the week and not managing to look like I have been dragged through a hedge backwards and haven't slept for a week?*).

I was remember a story that another twin mum told about how she had turned her back for one moment, and her twins got hold of a brand new bottle of Toilet Duck from the bathroom and proceeded to liberally cover the carpets and furnishings with it.  I can't really remember how she ended the story particularly, probably something to do with not knowing whether to laugh/cry/sell her children to the gypsies, only that she maintained that every parent of twins has their "toilet duck moment".  Eventually.

As I say, I relied upon Mumsnet's advice a lot, but for some reason I didn't believe this particular nugget.  I mean, everyone has a moment like this?  Really??

I had at that point, a 9 year old, a 7 year old and a 4 year old.  I was pretty sure that all my toilet duck moments had been and gone.  Surely twins could not outwit me?

With quite a big family by most people's standards I have had to endure a fair few of these kind of incidents already.  Since I've been a parent, some of the stand out ones include:

  • The time that my eldest two, aged 3 and 1, dismantled the front of the TV cabinet - I had no idea how to fix it
  • A few weeks later, they pulled a curtain pole off the wall, leaving a huge hole in the plaster where the bracket had been - husband had to replaster it
  • Aged 2, my eldest had emptied half a bottle of Johnson's baby bedtime bath over the hall carpet.  Man, that stuff foams up, it took ages to clean it off, although the hall had a lovely aroma for a while
  • My 8 month old third child unscrewing a bottle of Whiskey that had been on a low shelf in the kitchen and pouring it over his shoes, (which had to be binned because they smelled like a speak easy) just a few minutes before going on the school run.  I got a lot of funny looks from people standing close by on that day
  • The time they all coloured the leg of my dining table in with blue marker pen - it stains
  • My eldest child putting my new credit card through the shredder - Fortunately no fingers lost
  • Again, the eldest two (then 9 and 11) snapping the door of one of the kitchen cabinets in half while fighting over breakfast cereal (the cupboards were a discontinued design naturally).  It took three weeks to track down a replacement

None of them life threatening, all of them pretty annoying.  And, I swear that each time, I hardly took my eyes off the kids for a second, after which our house would become a little more child proofed so that it wouldn't happen again (see, you can't outwit me).

But, those days are long gone.  Although they are the youngest, the twins are six now.  Pretty responsible most of the time.  I can walk with them down a pavement without fear of them running off into the road, they know for example, that pens only go on paper rather than on my sodding dining table and more importantly that toilet cleaner isn't supposed to be played with.  They are always reminding me that they are not babies any more.  I had avoided the "toilet duck moment"...

A few weeks ago we were enjoying a typical midweek evening at home.  The kids were all doing their homework in their rooms, or in the twins case, tucked up in bed.  The house was relatively quiet for a change.

One of those beautiful moments in parenting where you maybe just allow yourself to begin to relaaaaaaxxxxx...

Then, from upstairs, a loud, sudden, CRASH!  (Pretty sure it measured highly on the Richter scale tbh.)

It was still briefly quite silent.  And then, screaming, from the twins' room.

Upstairs we rushed, half worried, half ready to bollock one of the older children for waking the twins up.

But no, we were instead greeted by the aftermath of what I can only describe as a late night twin base jumping session, which the pair of them had decided was an essential, yet stupidly dangerous, prelude to restful sleep.

The very heavy chest of drawers between their beds lay on its face.  Belongings scattered everywhere, some broken.  I wasn't lost for words.  The ones I chose are just unprintable.

Between tears, one twin explained that the other (why is it always the other one, eh?) had thought it a good idea to climb on top of the drawers and jump into one of the open drawers to see what would happen (bloody Stampy and Minecraft has a lot to answer for).  Well, they had their answer, and were both very lucky to still have their legs intact.

The chest of drawers was broken (I've had to temporarily parcel tape a drawer front back on until we can muster up enough energy to visit that well known Swedish furniture Mecca for a replacement), the twins shaken, apologetic and a bit bruised and one of the lights in the kitchen now doesn't work.  Ace.

Look at my highly desirable and fantastic furniture repairs...

This could have been so much worse (and I'm jolly grateful that it wasn't) but it had undoubtedly been the most destructive and memorable parenting fail yet.  That's twins for you.

And I was of course, wrong. The collective wisdom of Mumsnet was right**, I should have known.

But, as well as feeling completely stupid for underestimating the level of chaos that two children the same age can inflict on their parents at once, I also feel a little bit relieved.

Relieved because I've finally reached another milestone in twin parenting.  Like a badge of (weary) honour I've finally had my "toilet duck moment".

What a scary initiation though.

*Polishes badge*

*  The answer, if you are interested, is that you can't, something's got to give, or (more wisely) you need to get some help.

** They are usually right about most things although I'm drawing the line at green plastic beakers.  I won't be buying one on our trip to IKEA, rest assured.

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