Thanks to the internet, the world is growing smaller and smaller. Knowledge is opening up to us in ways that were never before possible. For example, did you know that the coffee chain Starbucks is named after a character from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick? I’m sure you can’t even imagine a world without the internet but there was a time, not that long ago, when you wouldn’t have been able to find out worthless trivia about Starbucks without going to the library and wasting the whole day searching through card catalogues (torturous devices) or calling their headquarters and pestering some poor worker with your intrigue in all things coffee history.
The internet brings us together with our friends and family. Thanks to things like Facebook we can stay in contact with people we would otherwise never get to see or speak to due to growing up / growing apart / life happening. And all thanks to the world wide web, Grandma Kathy and Grandma June can watch the two of you grow up over Skype (a telephone-video service that will also probably be antiquated by the time of this reading).
Most recently, however, the internet has had an enormous impact on helping to shift my perspective of you……but more on that in a moment. I’d first like to segue down a slightly different path and talk about your behavior as of late…and yes, I’m saying that with a very disciplinary tone.
Rory, let’s start with you. In the morning, I enter your room with a cheerful smile on my face and I say, “Good mooooorning!” and you will sometimes laugh and run to me and sometimes you will begin to wail. I will then pick you up and set you on the ground and say something to the effect of, “Good boy! Go find your milk! Go get it!” and then I will tap your bottom and you’ll run out of the room, screaming maniacally just as often as not. When you find the milk you quickly decide that you want juice instead. When we tell you “no” you throw your milk down. See, you’ve recently gotten into the habit of violent lash outs when you don’t get your way. You throw milk bottles, toys, phones; pretty much any inanimate object that has the misfortune of being in your giant mitt when The Rage kicks in.
If Quinn has something you want, no problem! You’re bigger than her so you just TAKE IT. It’s true, she’s not real stoked about the protocol but after your mom or I take said toy and give it back to her you move on to Plan B….which is typically slapping her mercilessly and relentlessly. Sometimes she cries and screams. Sometimes she just takes it if it means the joy of a toy.
When we lowly servants feed you your dinner, oh King, you mock us openly by banging your fork on the table, throwing your plate onto the floor and then saying, “Uh-oh” in a tone that suggests irony. After walking through that process twice (more if your mom and I are feeling excessively masochistic) we assume that you’re done eating. And why wouldn’t we? After all, a man dumps his mac and cheese on the floor twice…fool me once, shame on me…fool me twice…shame on….you ain’t gonna fool me again.
So we put you down and you promptly throw yourself backwards, bang your head on the wooden floor, scream more, claw at our legs begging to be fed like some poor, poochy bellied third world child. By this point you’re wearing more food than you are clothing so we decide to give you a bath, something you enjoy immensely…until Quinn again has a toy you want or I have the blatant audacity to shut off the tub. Commence screaming.
This is not a joke, I think I’m actually becoming tone deaf to certain frequencies.
Take Rory out of the tub. Rory does not like to be taken out of the tub. Dry Rory off. Rory does not like to be dried off. Set Rory down. Rory does not like to be set down. Pick Rory up. Rory does not like to be picked up. Put Rory in pajamas. Rory kicks me in chest. Twice. Screams. I breathe deeply. I am zen. I have the mental resolve of Buddha. I get you dressed and we begin to playfully wrestle. You like to wrestle…maybe too much. Once you punched me in the head but I’d like to think it was an accident, regardless of the laughter that followed.
You get timeouts in your naughty chair, you get timeouts in your room, you get spankings but punishment seems to roll off of you like water on a goose. I don’t know…maybe I need to hit harder….or more frequently…what would Dr. Spock do? And if he told me, would I take advice from a Vulcan?
Quinn, you seem to be coming into your terrible twos a little early as well (so don’t think you’re about to skate out of this public flogging unmarked). While you might not be as…shall we say “adamant” or “vigilant” or “spirited” as Mr. Rory is when it comes to “Fits of Passion”, when yours do strike they’re like tornadoes. A little whirlwind of smoke and dust and debris comes crashing through our house, blabbering on and on, unintelligibly. Imagine the tasmanian devil (Google it) wearing a dress. That’s you! Spinning around in circles, breaking through walls, shouting, falling on the ground, flailing about and, not to mention, your inexcusable habit of pooping on the ground AFTER we take you off the toilet.
What’s with that?!
In the morning when I enter your room, you are a ball of sunshine! “DADDY!” “Yes. Hello, my Quinnie. Good morning and how are you?” I lift you ceremoniously out of the crib and set you on the ground and you run into the living room…to find that Rory has taken the bottle with the straw and NOT the one with the sippy lid. Why is this a big deal? Because you don’t know HOW to use the sippy lid. You see the sippy cup and you scream. You know what this means. You know you’ll never be able to suck your sweet, sweet dairy down your gullet. You know that every moment that passes is another solid fluid ounce that your brother is drinking of YOUR MILK! You scream! You thrash! You lay on your stomach and punch the floor! The world is ending and there’s so much I haven’t gotten to do or see!
We try to encourage you to learn how to drink out of the sippy cup but we’d have better luck teaching a t-rex to play the piano. Next we try to encourage Rory to trade but he’s having a good time…watching you suffer.
It’s breakfast now and no matter how many times we ask you to stop, you continue to put your feet up on the table while you’re eating. Why do you do this? Why do you put your feet on the table? Your feet are dirty and they walk on the ground where you keep pooping! You pretend you don’t hear me when I’m calling your name, you laugh when I spank you and you squirm and thrash while I’m trying to change your diaper like some Vietnamese POW.
Later on we decide to go to the store and strapping you into your car seat is tantamount to putting an innocent man in the electric chair. You go stiff as a board and try to slink onto the floor. You scream to the neighbors for help but, since you don’t speak proper English, they can’t understand you. At the store, you pull things off the shelf and throw things from our cart. Earlier today, I took you to Ralph’s and you started having a breakdown in the soup aisle so I walked away. You seemed shocked.
These paragraphs, these stories, these moments from my life are coming to you one at a time…but in real life they are coming all at once and they are coming two fold. Rory is screaming and punching and thrashing because he’s just had a temper tantrum and thrown himself onto the ground while Quinn is shouting and crying because she wants a shoe on or off and on and on and on and on and on.
I love you both very dearly, with all of my heart and I wish nothing but the best for you. You both are everything to me and I would do anything to keep you safe…but sometimes I sort of want to lock the two of you in a room and walk away for a little bit. Sometimes I want to grab you and shout at you and say, “SHUT UP! SHUT IT! QUIET! YOU ARE WHINING FOR NO REASON!”
But I don’t do these things. Shouting and losing control is not something a grown up should do. It’s something an 18 month old does. Heads up, kids. We’re gonna get through this together.
Now let me loop back to my initial topic; the internet making the world smaller.
Recently, a certain family has come to our attention through means of Facebook.
Baby Easton is no ordinary child; his skin is so tender that even a simple kiss can cause a blister. From head to toe, Baby Easton is covered in, what amounts to, third degree burns and is wrapped in gauze and bandages to protect him from the air. His parents must wear special suits in order to hold or touch him and the life expectancy for a child born a “Butterfly Baby” (called thus because their skin is as fragile as a Butterfly’s wing) is typically 12-24 months. The same age that you are now.
When I first heard about this story, my heart broke. It is absolutely emotionally devastating to hear something like this and, as a parent, I think it’s even harder to comprehend. When the two of you were born, it was like someone took two pieces of my heart and made them exist outside of my body. Every day we pray for Baby Easton. We pray that God is going to work a fantastic miracle in the lives of that family…but if he doesn’t, Baby Easton will have worked fantastic miracles in hundreds and thousands of families.
I know how Baby Easton makes me feel. He makes me feel sorry. He makes me feel hurt. He makes me feel love. I look at him and I think of you, Rory and Quinn. I think, that could have easily have been you, either of you. But we were lucky enough to get two perfectly healthy children who screamed when they came out and haven’t stopped since. And I thank God, every moment that you scream because you’re angry or upset or frustrated because you can’t figure out the stupid sippy cup and not because you’re covered in blisters.
Over the course of the last week, I’ve begun to view your tantrums and fits differently. I am thankful for them and I’ve found, not only a greater patience, but a strange appreciation for them.
As always, I love you with everything.