Evening around our house is always a Chinese Fire Drill. It’s hard for it not to be when you have two daughters, who are 5 and 3 years old, and they have the burning energy of, well, a Chinese fire coming out of them from the second they get home with my wife.
“How were they on the drive?” I ask my wife, who often arrives looking like she just dealt with a car full of wild puppies on the 20-mile-drive home. Never mind that she also spent the day wrangling with a classroom of crazy kindergartners.
“Maddo teased Little Sis about the party she got invited to,” she’ll say. “And then Little Sis told Maddo she was “stinky” so she cried for a while.” She says these things with a look that tells me the little “angels” are all mine, now.
I start getting the girls out and they immediately turn into monkeys, climbing all over me like I have dozen of branches sprouting out from my torso instead of just two arms. At least one of them then decides to make like Usain Bolt in the 100 meters and race down the incline of our driveway–and then goes plowing into the pavement. Once we get inside, shoes and jackets go flying off feet and arms and right onto the floor, creating landmines of clothing. We herd them toward the bathroom to wash the daily ration of dirt, paint and/or ink off their hands. They respond by turning the sink area into a mini water park.
After all of that, it’s time for dinner. Or, at least it’s time to sit down and try to eat dinner. Our kids, like millions of kids from the beginning of time, are pretty finicky and it’s hard to get them to eat what we eat. I mean, who would have thought that getting a kid to eat a cheeseburger would be the equivalent of negotiating an end the Korean War? The three-year-old asks for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese every night, while our five-year-old would be happy with a lifetime supply of Chicken McNuggets.
And then there are the numerous, multiple times they have to get up to go to the bathroom. It never fails that within two minutes of sitting down for dinner one of them will have to go potty. And inevitably, right as I am about to tear into something good like a ribeye steak, the cry will come out from the bathroom:
“DADDY? I NEED YOU TO WIPE MY BUTT!”
After anywhere between 20 and 45 minutes of this, we get up, give up and make the kids’ lunches. It’s at this time that they then start dueling over who gets to choose the first show off of Netflix. It’s always off of Netflix. I think the only other TV option they know is Disney. One of them will pick something, I will determine if it’s OK for them to watch [For some unknown reason, they love “Jackie Chan Adventures”. Yes, THAT Jackie Chan], the other one will complain about the first one’s choice, and we’ll all settle on “Frozen”, again.
Next comes the crazed circus that is bath time. By this time, my wife and I are pretty much exhausted, so pulling the kids away from the TV is a major challenge. They run away from us, play with each other, sit on each other, aggravate each other and then run away from us again. Eventually, we get them into the tub and the whole thing starts all over again. One of them will splash the other too much. One of them will hold on to a toy that the other one has to have right then and there. One of them will yell “DADDY!” and the other will cry out “MOMMY!” so loud you’ll think they are trying to drown each other. At least they haven’t done that. Yet.
And then it’s time to get out of the tub. Lately, I have taken to doing the classic “Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Moe” method of choosing who gets to be the first one out of the tub. And since my daughters are girls, they are immensely competitive with each other regarding everything involving Daddy. Including who gets picked to get out first.
If you do “Eenie, Meenie” the way I do, the girl you start with will not be the one who is “It” at the end. And then you will have a scene like this:
Me: “…and you are IT!”
“It” Daughter: YAY! I’M IT!
Non-“It” Daughter: [Head turns down. Sad look on face.] Awww…I’m the bad one…
Ugh. I then have to explain that just because you were not “It” that doesn’t mean you are a Bad Girl. This, of course, does nothing to alleviate the situation, and it becomes absolutely necessary to do “Eenie, Meenie” again, this time so that the girl who wasn’t “It” the first time gets her chance to be the winner. And then the original “It” girl gets upset and…
You get the idea. It goes on and on. Brushing teeth is like wrestling two wet cats in a bag. The girls move so much when we try to brush that it is a miracle no one has ended up impales in the throat or eyes by a toothbrush. And now, they also want to try brushing themselves. They mainly use this as an excuse to see if they can squeeze an entire tube of toothpaste onto their brushes and not brush their teeth in the process.
At last, we get to bed, where it’s story time. After each girl picks out a book, inevitably there comes the jockeying for position to be the one who gets their book read first. And inevitably, there’s a bit of crying and whining from the second-book picker. This process usually goes on for about half an hour and by the time we get done with all the story interruptions and other books that the girls then want to be read, I am barely able to hold my own eyes open. It is also usually all of 8 o’clock and my wife and I are wiped out.
But, then we have hugs and kisses. For a moment, everything is sweet and adorable as my girls each wring my neck with their mini-person hands and I put a smack on cheeks so round I could eat them like a fresh apple. I tell them each that Daddy loves them, and I will see them tomorrow. Maddo will say she loves me more than “Frozen”, which is big props to me, indeed.
I make my way to the door, pull it until it is almost shut, and then, just as the latch is about close, Little Sis tells me she needs to go to the potty. Again.