Last week (edited to add: she actually got dropped off on my birthday, so she was my birthday present from Erin) one of Erin’s mommy friends had a medical issue and had to be hospitalized. She has a daughter who’s 10 days younger than Isaac and a son who’s about 10 weeks old. Her husband, unfortunately, was unable to tend to both children and his wife. So the group of mommy friends did what any set of friends would do. We took in the kids so that he could take care of his wife. Erin and I volunteered to watch their daughter, Jamie, until she could get out of the hospital. Fortunately, Isaac and Jamie know each other from playdates and she’s seen Erin enough that staying with us wasn’t as scary as it could have been.
Thursday afternoon she was dropped off at our house and Isaac and Jamie immediately started playing together. They ran around the front room, ate (and ate and ate and ate), and just generally had a good time.
Then came the real test. Bedtime.
As far as I know Jamie hadn’t spent the night at anyone’s house without her mom and dad (no huge surprise, neither has Isaac), so I was a little leery of how it was going to go. We went through Isaac’s usual bedtime routine and then I took her out of the room so Erin could put Isaac down (as usual). As I took her out of the room Isaac called for her and she did the same thing for him. It was cute.
Somehow, someway, putting her down was really easy. I took her in the room, told her that when she woke up I would be there, Isaac would be there and we’d all have a good time together. Then I left the room. She cried so I went back in, rocked her for a minute and then repeated that we’d be there when she woke up. I walked out, she fussed once and then quieted down and went to sleep for the entire night. It was very impressive. Very.
The next morning Isaac woke up and asked for Jamie. Since she sleeps in until about 8:30, however, she wasn’t awake yet so he had to deal without her for a while. When she woke up I took Isaac in to greet her. They were both very excited to see the other, just like old friends.
We ate breakfast and then the two of them started playing dirty. The tag teamed me and hopped up on the couch and both demanded a movie. Cheap trick.
They entertained each other pretty much the whole day. My job was limited to providing a constant stream of snacks. It was ridiculous the amount of food the two of them went through. The day flew by and there were no flare ups. After dinner we went for our evening run to get the rest of their energy out. It was really cute. I mean, really cute.
Night time was the same thing. They called for each other and this time Jamie went to sleep immediately after I left the room, I didn’t have to go back in at all. I’m talking about 2 minutes total.
The weekend days went about the same, with them entertaining each other. I took the two of them for a nice long bike ride on Saturday (surprisingly it didn’t feel much different dragging two kids rather than just one). Sure we had to referee a few flare ups, but for the most part everything was civil. By the end of the weekend they’d been together 3.5 days and everything was running smooth. I was amazed they weren’t growing sick of each other to be honest.
Monday, however, was a different beast. The mom was scheduled to have surgery that day and due to what kind if was we were all hopeful that she would be released afterward. Due to this we took the 10 week old so they’d only have to make one stop on their way home. Let me just say, having 3 under 2 was not NEARLY as easy as having the two of them. Fortunately Erin was home so one of us could tend to Jackson and the other could tend to the two toddlers, but it was still a trial. I can’t explain it, it was just a lot more draining. We also had to hide the guitar from the two of them because toys were starting to cause some friction. Maybe it was because they’d been together for 4.5 days, but I think it was more that the two of them weren’t used to sharing their toys that much. Jamie also didn’t understand that certain toys were Isaac’s favorites and apparently nobody should touch them (that would be his favorite cars). Monday was apparently one of the breaking points for sharing those. Through it all though, they were still mostly happy with each other and definitely still friends.
During the day Isaac and Jamie got together in my room and did a new dance move that Isaac’s picked up called the “Giddy Up”. You have to see the moves this kid has.
Tuesday was a whole lot easier. I still took Isaac to school and only had Jamie. It was a welcome respite to be honest. Having one kid is, shockingly, a lot easier. That evening Jamie’s dad came to pick her up so that they could all be home when her mom was released from the hospital the next morning. Isaac and Jamie were sad to be leaving each other, but you could tell it was time for them to get back to their usual surroundings. Isaac asked for her when he went to bed and woke up but took it well.
Here’s where I’ve been going with this.
This whole experience gave me a whole lot of respect for parents of multiples. I assume that it’s easier for the two to share things when they grow up with each other rather than being crammed together after having only spent a few dozen playdates together, but it was still probably as easy as it could have been. And for those who have twins and then a third kid, crazy respect for them. Having one who can’t move while chasing after two who do nothing but move is tiring. By the end of Monday I was ready to just pass out, and that was just one day (with Erin home on top of that).
The 5 days of having Jamie also confirmed what I’ve thought from the beginning. God knew what he was doing when he gave me a boy to start with. Parenting a girl is a whole different ballgame. I had to bobby pin Jamie’s hair back so she could see clearly and after 5 days I still wasn’t very good at it. The first time I tried I ended up just clumping some hair together that hung in front of her eyes. I wasn’t even sure which side of the bobby pin was supposed to be against the head. By the time she went home I could bobby pin it well enough to get the job done, but it still wasn’t pretty. Maybe it was a little training for if #2 is a girl (which I think it is), or maybe it’s just a reminder that girls are a whole different species. Either way, it was a different beast (though if we have a girl who has hair like Isaac’s she won’t need bobby pins for a long time).
So congratulations parents of multiples, you have a new admirer.