Steve and I took the children to the pool yesterday. After careful consideration I think that going to the pool is my very least favorite thing to do with the kids. Worse even than accidentally dining at a nice restaurant or traveling with a layover at JFK. It has all of the stress of a normal family outing - random shrieking, mad dashes in opposite directions, FTS (floppy toddler syndrome)... plus water.
We've got Caroline who pulls herself up and out of the pool ad infintum only to immediately jump back in whether someone is there to catch her or not. The bad news is she cannot swim; the good news is she is really good at holding her breath. Then there is Edward who just wants to secure dominion over all of the pool toys. With Edward I am seeing first-hand how empire builders go awry because, ok, sure, Eddybear, you can have most of Spain and parts of northern Africa and, fine, Belgium but Russia, Edward? Really? If Edward was simply playing with a watering can I doubt anyone would challenge him. But when he gathers everything he can reach into his arms and then starts trying to shove more stuff under his meaty thighs - it is going to cause a parental inquiry and a subsequent reallocation of ill-gotten ducks. Patrick, meanwhile, is fine as long as the water slide is open but once they close it (as they inevitably do) he finds that he has nothing better to do with himself than point out to Edward all of the toys he doesn't have (wah wah) or tell Caroline he'll catch her if she jumps and then he'll get distracted and paddle away as she is mid-leap. Not. Cool. Finally, trying to get all three kids dried off and back into their clothes while preventing them from slipping on the wet floors and cracking their heads open is a twelve man job for which we are clearly about twelve men short.
I watched another family at the pool a week ago. The Patrick aged kid climbed the stairs to the slide, waited her turn and then whooshed down while her mother and sister waited patiently at the bottom. It was the sister who fascinated me. She must have been about Caroline and Edward's age and she just... sat there. Waiting. Smiling. Clapping when her sister came down the slide. Meanwhile Caroline and Edward were going completely around the twist. As Patrick went down the slide Steve and I had to physically restrain the twinkles. They screamed and cried and thrashed and begged to go down the slide too, or back into the other pool, or over there or aaaiiiiiiieeeeeeeee aaaiiiiiieeeeeee aiiiiii... well you know. The pleasant child's mother gave me a look of sympathy. I expect it's the same look that the person in charge of the iguanas gives the howler monkey keeper when they meet at the zoo canteen.
I kinda hate the pool (how do you people with your own pools keep your toddlers from killing themselves? it seems unfathomable to me) so I keep trying to go all Meet Me in St Louis and fob the children off on the joys of our own front yard. Patrick has been quite helpful in this and with the aid of about a quarter mile's worth of garden hose and a few splitters, he and his friends created a waterpark (Sassyland Wet and Wild Thrillpark - he suggested we might need more parking; I told him to wait until we get an initial crowd count and then we can reassess the venue) using the swing set and a couple of sprinklers.
When Edward isn't fooling around with the system the hoses shoot water down onto the slides and it works surprisingly well. Muddy, my god, there are no words to describe how dirty they get and Steve keeps making dark prophecies about sinkholes but it's fun and - according to Patrick who seems to have read every travel plaza sign between here and Vermont - Buses Welcome.
Caroline and Edward were accepted today into the toddler preschool class that starts in September. I always have a hard time with change (I worry about everything. Choking, mainly, and bear attacks) but for the most part I am excited. I think it will be fun for them (well, that is what I think when I am not thinking that they will be suicidal with the grief of missing me) and I like that it is a class just for two year olds. Caroline and Edward have their weaknesses but they are both extremely good at being two, so it should work out beautifully.
At the Y Caroline ran up to the short counter as I handed our membership cards to the woman behind the desk.
"I'm Caroline," she said.
The woman said, "You're who?" and looking at the cards said, "Oh! Caroline! Hello!"
Caroline said, "I'm going to the pool! Won't that be fun?"
And the woman said yes, yes it would be fun.
Patrick prodded Edward forward as well.
"Edward can you tell her what you name is?" he prompted. Then he said, "Oh! Did I give too much away?"
Caroline frowned at Patrick, patted Edward and said to the woman, very formally, "Thank you." Then "Come on Edward," and he came.
They've been getting a little more twin-y lately.
At breakfast they sit across from each other and have some version of the following conversation:
Caroline: That's pretty stupid.
Edward: No Cayayine! Sep out! Not soopit! Comkal!
Which just goes to show that Caroline has absorbed Patrick's second-grade vocabulary while Edward has taken to heart our attempts to modify the same with a wide-range of possible adjectives (that's... funny! ridiculous! hilarious! comical!) Caroline has countered with: that's really... stupid; that's pretty... stupid; that's kinda... stupid.
If you can't tell, we seem to be losing at word games.
Oh and I have no idea where he got "step out" as a reprimand but he accompanies it with the extended palm of negation. For some reason it always makes me think of James Brown: push with the palm "Step out!" heels up "Yow!" and spin.
But the twin thing. She gave him a hug the other day.
He helped her push a heavy chair over so she could climb onto a new table and investigate a new lamp while he played lookout. Granted he was looking in the wrong direction but it's always hard to get good henchmen.
And he not only let her ride his pushcar, he drove.
It's possible they are growing fond of each other.
Patrick qualified for OT and started something called IM two weeks ago, which is... OK, I really don't know what it is. It has the word "metronome" in it and it involves him patting his right hip and tapping his left toe 500 times and then switching to his left hip and his right toe. This is REALLY REALLY difficult for him and he hates it, mostly, but to his credit he is working very hard and making fairly remarkable progress. Last week he was toward the bottom with the IM stuff, this week he hit the average range. I have gotten used to Patrick picking up on things (most things) pretty quickly and sometimes I do not give him enough credit for it. Patrick was in the bottom percentile for speech at two and a half but by three he was around the ninetieth. Every week he would master a new skill and then he was done. At the time I was, like, good, fine, ok, that was easy, but in retrospect he's pretty amazing. Watching Edward's more leisurely progress in speech has been an introduction to normal, which is fine but I find I have needed to adjust my expectations. I had assumed that Edward would be done by the end of the summer but the fact that he still drops final consonants when he strings words into sentences makes him an interesting conversationalist, to say the least, and I don't see him graduating from speech any time soon. In fact, I have asked about moving him back to twice a week because he seems to have plateaued.
I just got my final final deadline for my article and between now and then Patrick and Edward have three therapy sessions between them, Steve has two meetings, we're having a little dinner party and we are driving to Colorado. This would be cause for moderate concern but additionally I just realized that I had misunderstood how they wanted the intro written, so it will need to be completely re-written. I am so screwed. Excuse the abrupt departure but I need to go breathe into a paper bag and then maybe throw up a few times.
A propos of nothing and assuming I survive: what is the best book you've read this summer?
PS Whoops. I was so busy freaking out I forgot to tell you what my favorite book of the summer has been. Um, it was not Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief although I will acknowledge that it was better when I started reading it than listening to the recorded books version. The voice actor we heard just seemed to emphasize the less than stellar writing with weird pauses and odd inflections. "Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie"? Did I read that this summer or was it more late spring? Regardless I liked it.