So, as I mentioned in the post about Kiley's birthday, it appears that another little munchkin is on the way and I will soon be dealing with two tiny tyrants instead of just the one that I am currently charged with. Double the diapers, double the drama, double the fun. Though I admit to a certain amount of trepidation, I am actually looking forward to the prospect of juggling babies again. I have past experience with that, as I've stated before. In fact, I'm anxious to see if my juggling abilities have stood the test of time. It has been quite a few years since I've used them. In fact it has been nearly thirty years since I was called upon to undertake such an enterprise and endure the ordeal. That's a long time. So long in fact, that I scarce remember most of the experience. Then again, there are some things that one can never forget.
The year is 1986. The Oprah Winfrey Show is broadcast nationally for the first time. Microsoft Corporation goes public, creating four billionaires and twelve thousand millionaires from Microsoft employees. The space shuttle Challenger explodes seventy-three seconds after launch. The Iran-Contra Affair erupts when it is discovered that members of the Reagan administration planned to use money from an illegal arms sale to Iran for the illegal funding of the Nicaraguan anti-Communist rebels known as the "Contras". The explosion of a Russian nuclear reactor at Chernobyl creates the world's worst nuclear accident. Iron Mike Tyson becomes the WBC Heavyweight Champion of the World. My youngest daughter is three, my oldest is twelve, and I am thirty years old.
In January of 1986 I am about to have a house full of kids. I am already providing daycare for my four-year-old niece, the daughter of my husband's brother, plus my own three daughters, ages twelve (known as No. 1), five, and three. That is about to change. In December my brother's wife had given birth, and it was an unusual delivery. She had gone through nine months of pregnancy and the ordeal of labor only to find out after the baby was delivered that there was another one right behind it! Two girls! Twins! We have all heard about such surprises, but I, for one, always wondered how it could happen. Of course, this was December of 1985, and though ultra-sound technology was available it was not yet routinely used the way it is today. Now ultra-sound is used for a number of diagnostic purposes and, of course, to determine the sex of the baby. But back then, ultra-sound was not so commonly used and there were still varying opinions on the safety of bombarding our unborn loved ones with high frequency sound waves. Obviously, her obstetrician had not picked up on two heart beats either so she, as well as everyone else, was unaware that there were two cupcakes in the oven until the oven door had been opened. Gads! It came as quite a bombshell to everyone and the general reaction was something along the lines of - Wha-a-a-a-at?
My father was a twin and my oldest sister had twin boys, so it wasn't beyond the realm of possibility that my younger brother would also be thus afflicted, but the fact that no one saw it coming made for a good deal of drama. They already had a two-year-old (Lee-Lee) so suddenly having two more (Erica and Stephanie) so unexpectedly came as quite a shock. Even more shocking was when they asked me to look after all three of them when she went back to work. And most shocking of all was when I said yes. And so, at the end of January - ding-dong - here comes a two-year-old and two infants.
The three kids I was riding-herd on (not counting my twelve-year-old) had suddenly become six, and all of them below the age of six - a five-year-old, a four-year-old, a three-year-old, a two-year-old, and two one-month-olds. Oy! Thank God that three of them were out of diapers, but that left three that weren't. I really don't know how I managed, and I'm sure I wouldn't have if it had not been so easy to fall in love with all of them. Though it was often a chore, my affection for them prevented it from ever being a burden.
My twelve-year-old was a big help even though I had to constantly watch her to prevent her from making an escape out the front door - "Get back here!" Still you can't condemn a twelve-year-old to daycare drudgery no matter how desperate you are. So most of the time she was either in school, or outside and out of sight, though never fully out of mind, but I could always rely on her when the logistics of caring for six pre-schoolers became problematic.
Not surprisingly, it is all kind of a blur now, nearly thirty years later, but there is one thing that sticks out in my memory. And that is the twins. They were so adorable! My husband took to calling them "Weebies" after the toy Weebles that were popular at the time (Remember them? "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down"). He still calls them that today. Even though they are almost thirty years old, I can't remember the last time he called them by name. It is never "Erica" or "Stephanie" to him, it's always just "Weeby or "Weeb"" regardless of which one he is addressing. It's like they are merely different aspects of the same person to him. He's weird.
Even though they were fraternal twins, not identical twins, they looked exactly alike when they were babies (fraternal twins are no more genetically alike than regular siblings). As they grew older, however, they took on their own personalities and physical characteristics. By the age of two or three, Erica looked and acted like Erica and Stephanie looked and acted like Stephanie, at least to their parents and me. To everyone else, however, those who weren't around them so much, they still looked exactly the same and people would often ask me -"How can you tell them apart?" The answer was easy - "They don't look alike." But when they were babies, they did. They were absolute bookends. I could not tell them apart. And that created a problem.
To differentiate the twins, their mother often dressed them in different colors, Erica in purple and Stephanie in pink. And when they were infants, that is how I kept them straight - Erica is purple and Stephanie is pink (and sometimes yellow and green though I don't remember which was which on those colors.) Needless to say this is a recipe for confusion and even disaster.
One day, early on, when the twins were babies and the other kids were running rampant as usual, I was bathing the wee ones. Something happened that required my attention, (I don't remember what), so I took the babies out of the water, lay them down on a towel, and took care of whatever was required. When I turned my attention back to the twins, I was faced with "The Dilemma" - which was which? Suppressing a feeling of panic, I determined to resolve the problem, but try as I might, I could not tell them apart! What was their mother going to say? In desperation I turned to the other kids for their opinions. Holding up one wiggling, wet "Weeby", I asked the all-important question, "Does anyone know who this is?" but all I got was blank stares from four pairs of pre-school eyes. Lee-Lee, to her credit, gave it the old two-year-old try and declared it to be "Stephrica". Thanks for nothing.
What was I to do? The only thing I could do - "eeny, meeny, miney, moe. I proclaim you Erica" and dressed her in purple. I don't know if their mother ever caught on to what had happened, but she never said anything. And that wasn't the only time I mixed them up either. By the time I could tell them apart it had happened three or four times to me and maybe even a few times to their mother. Who knows? They are twenty-nine years old now. Erica is a teacher and Stephanie is an accountant - or are they? Maybe the teacher is actually Stephanie, I don't know. Does it matter? What's in a name after all? The whole world knows the accountant as Stephanie so she is Stephanie. And if she's not, well, "a rose by any other name is still a rose, and smells as sweet." I'm just glad there is only one Kiley. That makes things easy, uncomplicated. I'm way too old to go through that kind of thing again. Kiley looks just like herself, though I must say that at certain times, when she smiles a certain way, she looks just like her Aunt Stephanie. Erica is Kiley's mother, by the way. At least I think she is. Probably. Maybe.