One week out of the summer, the grandtwins come to visit. Just me and them. I put all work aside and devote all time to them. This year they are seven, out of first grade, going into second—boy and girl. Therein lies kind of a problem, because it’s hard to be with each one as an individual, hard to play LEGOs and Barbies at the same time. But as I observed last week, they are two children, but they are not two children. They are one child. They are always hanging on to each other, moving like the Blob, playing together, telling each other what to do, looking out for each other.
Especially Jillian. She rides Hardy like a hard-working mule in the field. I picked them up at the Natchez Trace headquarters in Tupelo, and as she and I headed for the ladies’ restroom, she looked at Hardy and in front of all the visitors indoors, she said loudly, “Go to the bathroom, Hardy.” I remembered last summer when she said, “Hardy, I am not putting that commode seat down after you one more time. You’ve got to learn to do it!” At one point during this week, she strode through the living room with her long legs and a boy’s shirt in her hand. “What are you doing” I asked. “I’m laying out Hardy’s clothes for tomorrow.” She even packed his suitcase for him. At another point during the week, I heard him ask her where his new socks were, and I told him, “Hardy, if you and all the other men cannot take care of yourselves, you’ve just got to take what comes to you.” And then he could absolutely not find his new flip flops one day. “They’re in your bedroom, on the floor. Look under the starlight stuffed animal.” He answered, “I didn’t see them anywhere.” And I just had to say it: “That’s because you are a boy, and men and boys never look under anything for their stuff. If it’s not on top, y’all can’t find it. And that goes for ALL men.”
Hardy, in all his brother sweetness, when he is not poking, slapping, and putting his feet on Jillie and making her squeal, can be protective. We were stopped at a Shell station to use the restroom, and while Jillie was inside the bathroom, I walked an aisle or two away to remotely lock my car because I had forgotten to, and Hardy started to follow, but then said, “No, I’ve got to stay with Jillie,” and went back to stand beside her door.
I always plan a bustle of activity when they come, and this year was no exception. We went to Glow Galaxy, the pool, Sky Zone, Adventure Science Center where we saw the featured exhibit Wolf to Wolf and watched Stars in the planetarium, Homestead Manor and Farmer’s Market, where we bought bread and peach jam for toast, picked blackberries, made cookies, had a tea party, watched Lady and the Tramp, watched 19 episodes of the Hardy Boys’ Applegate treasure show on DVD, read from Hardy Boys book #1 on which the movie was based, read from Ivy and Bean, saw Finding Dory at Carmike Cinema, watched E.T., played ball and bubbles with the puppy, did street chalk art, drew designs on flat, smooth pebbles, and played LEGOs and Barbies.
One thing I didn’t think through when naming the puppy—Heidi—was the difficulty of calling out names when the kids are here, and so Hardy was Heidi and Heidi was Hardy. And sometimes, though, Heidi was Chaeli, her predecessor. And sometimes I went through all four names before I got the right one!
Hey! He’s double-jointed like me!
For the first time, I don’t think I called Jillie JillieBean the whole week.
And so, JillieBean, Hardy, and Heidi—what a week! Come back, and we’ll go canoeing!
I don’t have a daughter. I’ve got two sons, so I’m comfortable grabbing up the boy twin and playing airplane and carrying him facing forward on my hip and letting him squirm down out of my arms. And then there’s the girl twin…
I’ve said on more than one occasion while shopping at Target, “Someone needs to pick me up and carry me out of here before I buy everything on the racks.” She’s fun to shop for. I get lots of pink.
She’s also the one who has some of my characteristics. She’s got my dad’s blue eyes that are turning green like mine. She’s dramatic. She’s embarrassed easily and a little shy. She doesn’t like to get in trouble; she wants to do everything right and pleasing. She’s verbal, loves music and rhyme and words.
“Shake it,” I say, and she dances. “Where’s your belly?” She pats it. “Where’s your foot?” She looks down at it. “Where’s your ear?” She points to it. “Hi,” I say. “Hi,” she says.
I sing. “The eency weency spider climbs up the water spout…” She puts her fingers together like a spider climbing. She tries to twist them and make them walk up. I stand and sing and act out, “I’m a little teapot, round and stout. Here is my handle, here is my spout. When I get all steamed up, then I shout. Tip me over and pour me out.” She watches intently. It’s catchy. She likes anything catchy.
When I say good-bye to her, I tell her to be a good girl and when I come back, we’ll do more of the teapot song. I tell her to keep on practicing the eency weency spider song. She’s sitting on my lap facing me and she puts her fingers together like the spider getting ready to climb and looks at me all proud.