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Crash, boom, bang...
Why you should not take toddler twins shopping.
Has this ever happened to you? You're at a bookstore, or a restaurant, or perhaps even at the dentist waiting to buff your teeth and you're happy for the peace, when out of nowhere and with no cautionary warning (like the shrill string motif in Psycho), that calamitous couple descends upon a previously pellucid space - Mother and Child. Twng Twng Twng!
What then unfolds is a scene from a construction site when the wrecking ball has a will of its own and its manipulator is in a state trying to bring it to heel. The child will seemingly manifest himself everywhere at once - uprooting potted plants, bringing the curtains in a heap, shredding anything paper and by the time he starts nibbling the furniture and you start to think poorly of the mother - allow me to speak for the defendant. A mother has at best two limbs and a set of vocal chords with which to keep her child under control;a child has four limbs and an especially diabolical voice box to break all control. For all her size and strength, it's actually agility and compactness that matters when it comes to darting through doorways, under furniture and scrambling up walls. I should know. I have twins.
In our initial naïvetê (or imbecility), we wanted to do things 'as a family' and attempted to take our yearand-half-old twins everywhere - to restaurants, supermarkets, and so on. After salt shakers got flung, pyramids of Pepsi razed, and strangers' handbags rifled, we decided to fly solo - without the kids we mean. But, once in a while, I'd foolishly believe they'd 'grown up' and were ready for civil society. One of those times, I took my son Nirvan to the book sale at Crossword. He must have spied Rushdie's later novels because he protested by disappearing under the long display tables hidden by their (pointless) tablecloth. I dived in after him, proceeded to chase him (having marooned my dignity about a year ago), and by the time I got a hold of a foot and reemerged, the pile of books I had collected over the hour had been rudely replaced by the attendant. So much for taking child along...but my resolve held only until optimism got the better of commonsense.
This time I ventured into Cotton World with the double barrel, and a friend. Surely, two handlers could keep two children in check. At this point, let me interrupt to mention my previous single visits to this outlet, when their solicitous staff always inquired after my offspring, wanting to know why I hadn't brought them along. Why? They were soon to find out. My friend, I realised, when it came down to kids or clothes - chose the latter. She soon abdicated all responsibility, taking armfuls into the trial booths and leaving me to chase after two kids as nosey as basset hounds. While one pulled items off their hangers, the other emptied the waste bin on his head;while one melted from view into the wall of assorted tops, the other sat himself in the middle of the floor and was in danger of being trodden on. But the straw that literally sank the camel underground was Araya creeping under the half-door of one of the booths even as a woman was changing her clothes inside.
This is that moment dear reader-withoutchild, when even the most steadfast and purposeful of mothers buckles. It's not exasperation with which she stares, but vacancy, for she has run out of options and her last nerve is frayed to its last fibre. This is not her breaking point - she arrived there twenty minutes ago;at this juncture, she is already broken, but only now publicly admits it. She makes no show of reprimanding or leashing her child, but flies the white sail of defeat, often in the form of a kerchief into which she may copiously cry. But me? I am made of a denser mettle. The unsuspecting woman whose booth my child has invaded by stealth is about to shriek when I politely knock on her door and explain to her what she already knows. Like a tutorial after the practical. Anyway, she seems to understand, she has perhaps suffered worse. She sweetly ushers Araya out through a crack in the door, and just as I've gathered her into my arms - the most ineffective of penitentiaries - I hear a full-throated scream from another cubicle. Twins are liable to repeat each others' actions, I've observed.
To round up this appeal, I'll simply say - don't judge us too harshly, can't you see us suffering enough?
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