It was such a delightful fall afternoon. I rounded the corner, the cool autumn breeze whipping my hair through the open window. Then I stopped. It was my first stop, to pick up the twins. “Why you not wait here?” They greet me, and off they go to fight over who gets to open the car door. Screaming.
Maybe I should interrupt this narration right here to define screaming. When I say scream, you think of your everyday garden variety screaming. You know, it’s loud, kinda screechy maybe, the person emitting it is not happy. Crank up the volume. When they were about 1 or so D1 started his signature scream. Think July 4. You know those fireworks that scream? You just set one off. I’m not kidding. Luckily not every time he screamed was that bad, just when he was really on one or really upset: most days at least once. So one day he screamed at a baby shower and everyone asked. “Is that the scream?” “If it were, you wouldn’t have to ask,” I respond. So if you’re thinking of a scream that you would have to ask, it’s not the scream. It is really identical to the screaming fireworks up close and personal. I thought it was just me who thought it was that bad, but then one day E. said, “He sounds like those annoying fireworks.” I rest my case. Then D2 learned to imitate him. One day they did it together in the kitchen. Want to know what it sounded like? Now would be a great time for you to do your annual smoke alarm test. Go find that baby and press the test button to make sure it goes off. Did it go off? Yes? What did that sound like? How do your ears feel? You just heard “the scream” in stereo. No? Replace your batteries. Try again. Yes? When I heard it, two little humans had made that sound. I thought I was losing my mind. Up came E. from the basement. “Did the smoke alarm just go off?” she asked. See, I am not kidding. Luckily, they eventually tired of this scream. I would go put them in their crib when they did it. Their screams aren’t tame anyhow, as you could tell by the response I got to the normal scream. Recently, they have returned to something similar to “the scream” but not as high pitched. Now you’re ready to imagine the rest of the story.
Finally two different doors are opened and everyone is piled in. “G&C not done yet?” They ask. “Yes, they are, we are going to get them.” “No, I wanna go home!” D2 wails. “We’ll be home soon” I assure him. More protests. Well, maybe E. is home or almost there, let me call her. While I’m calling, D2 announces he’s walking home and leaves. By the time I leave a message for E, he has rounded the corner. I head back around to pick him up, thinking how he will fight me and I will have to drag him into the car and if anyone unknown goes by I will be so glad he’s got a twin in the car who will claim me, so I don’t have problems proving I’m not kidnapping him. I quickly see he’s also got a wire wrapped around his Spiderman action figure, so I make a deal. You can keep the pokey wire I really should be taking away from you if you will get in the car peacefully. He lets me force him into his seat without an alligator wrestling match. But then as we head off for the school he starts screaming. “I want to go home!” He gets out of his seat. I pull over. I put him back. I put the child lock on the door. The yelling increases, but now D1 who has shown such great restraint that I was really amazed, starts in. “Be quiet!” Me: ”Just plug your ears, honey.” “STOP IT!” “Just ignore him.” “SHUT UP! I CAN’T STAND IT!” D2 is now sideways in his seat and is banging the window with his feet. I could pull over and start insisting on quiet, but I know from past experience that we will be so late to the school we will have to pay for day care. So I just blow them both off. I just pretend it’s quiet.
We get to the school, and the stereo screaming is still going. I was never really good at self hypnosis, so at this point in time I have lost my focus and the screaming is starting to get to me. Now I would like to pull over, but I am trapped. It’s the bottleneck of cars picking up kids. I can’t pull over, out, stop when we have to go, turn around or anything. I am trapped until I have retrieved my sons and gotten a block or so from school property. It was an eternity. I’m sure it wasn’t really, but it did seem to take a whole lot longer than normal: long enough to develop a vehicular claustrophobia. Once I got my boys, and immediately warned them that they’d better hold still, not rock the boat, plug their ears and watch out for flying objects, we inch our way free of the school. D2 is now wailing, “I didn’t want to pick them up!” So I pull over. “See that house there? House number 832? Want to live there? Cuz we are sitting here in front of house 832 until there is silence in this car.” I have to repeat this a few (ok, 5 more times) to get the message across and then I answer a foray of questions from the older boys about what will the people who live there think about this, etc. while the D’s are deciding if they are going to quiet or not. Finally it’s quiet enough to at least remember the way home and we head off again. Luckily we only had to stop at two more possible new homes on the way to calm down again. Now the older guys are complaining that it will be night by the time we get home. It wasn’t, and we survived. However, the next day, I made sure I could leave D&D with their sister at pickup time.