Old friends from Chicago are in town so we had them (plus child) and another couple (minus children) over last night. It's hard to keep conversation general with eight people stretched on either side of a rectangle (I wish we had a big round table but Steve - oddly - dislikes curves) however there were a few moments during dinner when one person or another had the floor; like when Patrick mentioned he wants to be an astronaut when he grows up but added the caveat that he might not live that long.
"You just never know," he said. "You never know when you might die."
The child from Chicago said she is going to be an actress when she grows up and looked at Patrick with all of the withering disdain a twelve year old girl can muster when she is confronted with a turnip-headed six year old saying tactless things. I quite liked her. Apart from this brief interaction, I was amused by the fact that she and Patrick pointedly ignored each other. Two only children (essentially - Caroline and Edward have yet to impact Patrick's life as anything other than cute curiosities who sleep more than he does) at a dinner party are programmed to compete for adult attention like a couple of gladiators.
I'll be interested to see how the finkles develop in this area, having always had a Me and a Not-Me with which to contend. Will they perpetually be trying to outdo each other for attention (Caroline is swinging by her heels from the chandelier but you should know I'm setting a fire under the table, carols Edward) or will they be used to sharing a divided and dwindling resource, like my concentrated regard or my patience?
Caroline is one of those busy I-do-it-myself types that I longed for as Patrick turned five and still expected me to put his socks on for him. At first she was content to hold a spoon, any spoon, while I fed her. Then she needed to hold the actual spoon with food on it. Now she battles me to take the spoon, dip it into the yogurt and feed her own damned self. And Edward, too, while she's at it. It's not that I am opposed to developing self-reliance and critical small motor skills but with two toddlers eating five times a day and getting only five percent of the food anywhere near their mouths... I need a calculator to work out the filth factor. And a fire hose to clean under these chairs; especially as both Caroline and Edward still like to end a meal by cheerfully flinging cups and scraps onto the floor when they're done - Opa! I kinda miss Patrick's fastidious refusal to do anything but open his mouth like a baby royal.
Speaking of and-Edward-too-while-she's-at-it I could kick myself for not taking a picture of the first part of this exchange: Caroline was sitting on Edward trying to shove his brown jacket on him for mysterious reasons of her own. He pushed her off and ran away crying; she chased after him. I intercepted them in the kitchen where Caroline was looking prissy and bossy and self-important and Edward was feeling martyred.
In Caroline's defense, Edward has all four molars cutting through and he has been walking around the house for days crying and chewing on his hands and moaning and looking daggers at me - like it's my fault his mouth hurts so much. The fact that his sister was WAH WAH TRYING TO PUT A JACKET ON HIM WAH WAH WAAAAAAAH was just insult to proverbial injury. She probably shouldn't have tried to dress him against his will but he most likely was going to start crying anyway.
Hey, I finally took a picture of them in which I think they actually look like twins.
Yes? No? The curls at the nape of the neck? The button noses? The seashell ears? Or am I just being misled by the fact that they are wearing the same color shirt; like when a closer examination of a team photo reveals that, in truth, the Dallas Cowboys actually look quite different from one another (and look virtually nothing like cowboys?) I realized the other day (a mere fifteen months into twin parenthood) that I tend to dress Caroline and Edward alike. Not usually the same clothes, different color (above) or different clothes, same color (below) but the same kind of things: pants and onesies and sweaters on one day; overalls the next. I was sort of shocked when I noticed this habit because I don't consider myself a cutesy person but I have subsequently decided that it is less twee than practical. If it is cold enough for Edward to be wearing fleece then it is probably cold enough for Caroline to be wearing fleece as well. And as I am standing there at the Carters outlet I buy x pajamas for Edward and x pajamas for Caroline and x pajamas for Patrick so that they all run out of pajamas together when I get behind on laundry. I'm not precious; it's a system. Speaking of Carters did you know that their size 12 months "girl" pajamas (as indicated by words like Sweetness stitched over the heart or a picot-edged collar) are smaller than their size 12 months "boy" pajamas? Caroline is wearing her pink-and-peaches PJs like a professionally fitted 18 button glove but the handed down same-sized stuff from Edward allows for additional junk in her little trunk. I suppose this makes sense as girls are smaller on average than boys but be advised if you are planning on intentionally cross-dressing your pumpkin or mistakenly believe that your boy is a Cutie Pie in addition to being Daddy's Little Helper.
You know, one could probably write a fairly convincing undergraduate paper on gender stereotyping based solely upon the words embroidered onto Carters baby clothing. There. My gift to you. Just in time for finals.
I have this whole other section I was going to write, complete with twenty year old pictures, but I think I'll save it for tomorrow. I just went through my meagre pile of old photographs and I am feeling uncharacteristically depressed. Not sure where it is coming from, either, since these were pictures of things I enjoyed... parties, trips, Great Loves and a few little lusts. Why so gloomy, then? I don't know. I swear by all that is holy I would not be dewdrop young again even if it came with a bowl of whipped cream but... oooh. I was so well rested back then. Do photos of yourself at sixteen or twenty or whatever kinda depress you?
PS I know, I know. Some of you are still twenty, bless your hearts. That's why I just gave you a perfectly acceptable thesis to research for your Feminist Rhetoric in Pop Culture class. And you are welcome.