“Ticket Punchers” the man in the red shirt says. His name is Jim and he’s been working at Ralph’s grocery store for what probably seems like or could actually just be, the last 20 years. He has greying hair, a slight pot belly and a constant quirked eyebrow. Jade scans groceries; one ear of corn, an onion, a handful of raw green beans. She’s going out tonight so I’m throwing random things on the grill and pretending to be a chef on a popular, but imaginary, reality tv show.
Jim points again to the baby’s mouths – I’m holding both of you at once, one in each arm – and he laughs. “Little Ticket Punchers! Look at their teeth. Two little ones on the bottom. They look like little ticket punchers.” Quinn smiles and Rory looks nonplussed. What’s new? That boy is more sober than a southern baptist during the prohibition era. Jim makes a couple goofy noises, trying to get you to laugh but neither of you do. He comments on your big eyes and, since I’m wearing sunglasses and lack the arms to take them off, he leans around Jade and says, “Who they get their big eyes from? Oh! It’s momma! Mom’s got the big eyes!”
A couple people see me holding both babies and they smile and nudge the person next to them, “Look. Twin! They’re cute.” I enjoy the attention even though I feel vain about it.
This month has been an evening at the horse races. We watch the two of you scurry across the floor, Rory like an epileptic seal and Quinn like a water dancer in a bomb field. Roar, you’re a bullet shot from a gun; a cannonball rolling down a hill, a killer whale dropped from a hot air balloon. You push and thrash your way to your hard defined goal. You go around nothing. You crawl over everything; laundry, toys, dogs, people, siblings.
Quinn, delicate and precise, you slowly float across the floor, testing each step as though you’re afraid that the ground will give out beneath you. You watch your hands, commanding them to bend to your will. While Rory is very goal oriented, you seem to be more about the journey. You stop and examine everything you find; a toy, a shoe, a piece of lint. It all goes in your mouth.
You’re both infatuated with Clementine. Rory chases her viciously around the house while Quinn quietly stalks her prey. Rory leaps out from behind walls, a masked maniac in a dark alley trying to steal someone’s pearl necklace. Quinn slinks around corners like a creeper, a big gummy smile painted across her peachy face.
Your’e both standing up now…sort of. You pull yourselves up on the couch, the coffee table, the baby gates, my legs. We pour toys out on the floor; lots of old things that we either made or found…..there’s even some pieces of garbage in there that you really seem to enjoy…but what you seem to want most is whatever I have in my hand at any given time. Whether it’s an iPhone, a Wii remote or a laptop, you want to touch it, push all the buttons, hold it and throw it violently to the ground.
You’ve both started sleeping through the night……or at least we have, haha. Sometimes, hours after we put you to bed we’ll hear one of you laughing. We’ll quietly poke our heads into your room and one of you will be awake, standing up and giggling. It really seems like you’re trying to get the other’s attention, like you’re bored and want to play.
It’s hard to not pick you up at times like this.
Other times we’ll be cleaning the house and have to sneak into your room while you’re asleep. It’s like being a Black Op in a Korean Village. You sneak in, you complete the mission, hang up clothes, pull down hangers, put things away and then you sneak out……if you’re lucky. Sometimes the opposition wakes up and sees you and it’s like looking into Medusa’s eyes or dealing with a bear. “Don’t look! Drop to the floor! Pretend to be dead!” your senses shout at you.
The parenting thing is a roller coaster off it’s tracks and I feel like we’ve just hit that peak and have begun the high-speed swoop downhill, the air buzzing in our ears, the passengers with us, screaming with their hands in the air. The changes and bends are coming fast but I know the ride is short and it will all be over quickly enough. Maybe too quickly. I waited in line a long time to get here and I want to enjoy it all, so by all means, take my iPhone, take my laptop, take my controller and smash it on the ground. Maybe I pay too much attention to those things anyway.
We both love you and are excited to talk to you soon.
Dad and Mom.