As new and inexperienced parents to twin boys, our playbook of game-plans and defenses grew with each passing day. We coped with sleeplessness, guarded against germs and hazardous food or inappropriately aged toys, resisted and blocked our own newfound world of fears and worries, and generally just every day learned to cope with what came next. Our patterns of x’s and o’s changed with each new developmental phase. But, even man-to-man coverage left gaps in our defenses.
Sibling rivalry reared its head early in life, even though neither son had ever been an “only” child. And, trying to communicate with little boys who had limited understanding of why the other brother was the focus of attention could be difficult. But, one day when the boys were about eighteen months old, Noah found an effective way to refocus the attention.
One afternoon, Joel sat with Samuel on his lap in the family room while I worked in the kitchen. Neither one of us remembers why Samuel required one-on-one one attention, but regardless, Joel sat in the upholstered club chair with Samuel sitting perpendicular to Joel on one of Joel’s thighs. Joel patted Samuel’s back and talked sweetly with Samuel.
Meanwhile, Noah toddled up, but didn’t receive an immediate response from Joel. Noah tried a time or two to get Joel’s attention. Joel sat in the chair with his feet flat on the floor with his knees apart just enough for Noah to walk in between his knees so that he stood between Joel’s thighs. Which, as it turned out, also positioned Noah directly in front of and eye level to Joel’s……
From the kitchen I suddenly heard horribly loud and agonizing screams–from Joel! What calamity had just happened? I ran from the kitchen to find both boys crying with fright while Joel writhed and moaned like a mortally wounded animal with a twinge of rage mixed in.
What happened? Joel gasped “He (pause) BIT (pause) me!“ Still puzzled I said “Bit you? Where? “Joel’s next response illuminated the situation. Yes, THERE. Yes, THAT. Not just a minor nip. A toothy chomp. A hearty mouthful of retribution, expressed toddler style.
Who knew that parenting required a cup?