Author: Kaloyan Yavashev
Sometimes I need to be away from home for days or even weeks. It is my job that takes me away, but there are days when I’d rather swim with angry sharks on steroids, then to be in the apartment with the children. I mean, it’s an alright apartment, but somehow it’s more fitting to call it a lair, the Death Star or Mordor.
Only few hours ago my wife came to say goodbye to me at the door, and I felt like a wartime deserter. I reassured her that time will pass fast, and she was nodding “yes” while a pair of tiny hands were hanging on her trousers and dragging them down and another pair were trying to steer her to the fridge, shouting “AM! AM! AM!”A minute later, alone in the elevator, I felt free, strong, positive, and victorious. Like the guy that escaped from Shawshank.
Nevertheless, it’s been now 48 hours later and I’m already missing my children. The sun and palm trees around are not enough to distract me. Back in my hotel room the order and tidiness are irritating, the silence is unnatural and unnerving. Diagnosis clear – Stockholm syndrome. I have developed feelings for my kidnappers, I mean the twins.
I am texting Rossi, urging her to send me new videos, I am going through the photos in my phone giggling, and basically behaving quite abnormally. I can’t even fathom how I have ever wanted to escape these sweet, clever, charming, smiling angels. I mark down the days and hours until I am finally parking the car in front of my building.
Grinning and impatient, I toss my suitcases and bags in the elevator, next to two workers doing the building insulation. The whole block is echoing with hammers and drills, but above the din I can hear the high notes of a familiar hysteric voice. I can’t make out the words yet, but it does remind of an elephant who’s gotten hold of a megaphone and is about to give birth to a tractor. One of the workers raises inquisitively an eyebrow:
- Wow, this woman has a serious voice! Like a ship horn!
I stand up straighter and proudly answer:
- My wife. No more than 55 kg, but very resilient and with good lungs.
The second workers chimes in:
- You must have a dog or cat, right?
Making a quick mental head count of the family members just in case, I reply, suddenly tense:
- No, why?
- I think she was chasing something around the apartment.
Now I don’t look so proud anymore and I stare at the floor. I know what she was chasing, I know very well. As we the elevator climbs up to our floor, we start hearing the sharp whine of two saws, one cutting wood and the other metal. The first worker ventures:
- Washing machine troubles? Broken centrifuge?
I raise my head and admit:
- No, but we have twins.
I study with great interest my boring shoes, while the two workers eye me like I am an 8-legged flamingo. I can feel their intrigue and pity. My floor finally arrives, and I start taking out bags, while one worker is holding the door for me. He points at the broken door frame of our apartment and conversationally inquires: Renovating?
- No, that’s from my son! – I answer coolly. Seeing his confusion and mounting fear, I clarify:
- He has a scooter and he starts from the living room, gathers speed and slams the door, frontally or sidewise, all day, every day. Alright, thank you! Have a good day!
Their looks of pity really don’t bother me, I’m used to it now. I have seconds left until I see my angels, I unlock the door with a smile. Come on, bring on the love, the hugs and the kisses, daddy’s back home! The first thing I see is a mangled toy transformer car, depressively dragging itself on the floor. The poor machine has obviously seen the door open and with a tireless buzzing and clicking is trying to reach it and escape. With a swift kick I kill its optimism and send it back. One day this toy will buy me 5-minute break while one of the twins is dismantling it. Then I search to see how is my precious, my treasure. Our new dryer Bosch. We’ve had it for a week and it is already the most important family member. It has even reached a God-level status for me and Rossi and if necessary we’ll light candles and bring food offerings. We take shifts to keep it safe from the children who are attracted to it like wild pigs to a pumpkin patch. Then I look to see if our bedroom is still locked and if the key is still hanging on its place high on the wall. The bedroom is the safe place, where we have gathered all that is valuable and do not want to see destroyed. The big mirror, the laptop, the summer car tires, the clothes, the baby… Any breach of security there by the twins brings out hysteria and mental disturbance in either of us. Comparable to a terrorist showing up uninvited in Trumps bathroom while he’s brushing his teeth. I take off my shoes and beaming enter their hunting fields, I mean, the living room. If there is a toy that makes an irritating pointless sound, then this toy must be on - non-stop. This is one of the rules of raising our children. That is how we managed to create a decent anarchist cacophony of a mini-washing machine, a bus, a car, a piano, some frog with buttons, a baby doll with batteries up its ass, a mini-tablet, and a screaming ambulance. If one if these toys goes silent, they immediately notice and with swift strong hits to the wall try to fix it back to noise.
If you want to spoil the fragile peace in a home with twins, you could show up with two different presents. For example, a car for the boy, and a doll for the girl. You have to understand, everything must be identical and in pairs – two cars, two dolls. Same size, same brand, same material, same date of production. Our twins are ready to restart the Trojan war over an empty glass jar, let’s not talk about a toy that only one of them has. Everything, absolutely everything at home must be in pairs. If one of them takes antibiotics, the other one suffers from severe psychological neglect if you don’t administer to him as well, even if he’s perfectly healthy. Don’t ask how we explained to the girl that she can’t have a penis, she calmed down only when we promised that Santa Claus will bring her one. As if Santa has no other worries, and must take care of little transsexual toddlers. Even if one of the twins gets a slap on the bottom for a mischief, the other one is already in the position “ski jump” and eagerly points at its bottom too.
And this is why they completely ignored me when I entered the living room. They were both gripping the left slipper of their mom, and pulling it with all their might in opposite directions. The right slipper was not to be found. Gone already. My wife looked at me, and instead of tearing with joy and exclaiming how she has missed me, she flatly announced:
- They broke the balcony door. It can’t be closed anymore. Call someone to fix it.
Stepping carefully among the corpses of toys, I approach her and ask:
- Hi, is everything alright?
Despite considering myself funny, I had never provoked such laughter in a person before. She was hiccupping, tears on her cheeks, slumped to the ground, waving legs and arms like a poisoned cockroach. Waiting for the fit to end, a bit bored, I attempted to clean the ear of my daughter. She had something like dried oats inside. It was possible to see and scratch them away, only because her brother was strangling her right next to me and she was thus occupied. Finally Rossi calmed down and breathlessly inquired:
- Are you drunk??! What do you mean “alright”? Can’t you see, can’t you hear?
- It’s ok, - I say, embracing her gently, - see how sweet they are!
Now she’s convinced that I have been hitting hard drugs while away, and the effect has not worn off yet. Her voice hardens:
- Very well, you stay here with them, and I will go to the market. I will be back in 2 hours.
It’s been 2 hours, 13 minutes, and 27 seconds. She finally came back home, and I am so ready to scream at her because she is late, but I am worried she may turn back and leave me alone with them again. Freshened, she looks at me smirking and says:
- Is everything alright?
You can’t smirk at me. Of course it is alright. You cannot scare me with two children. Well, three, counting the baby, though I keep forgetting about the poor thing. In the past two hours I have managed to reset their settings and they stopped breaking household appliances. I have taught my daughter to draw a miaow (a cat) and my son a woof (a dog) on a notebook. Both of their works of art could also pass for the Milky Way, however the important thing is that I have awoken their thirst for art expression. I answer self-contently:
- Of course everything is alright. (Meaning- I’m more of a parent than you, ha.) At first we were quiet, then I shouted some, then we drew some, then they were quiet, then I checked some stuff on my phone, and now you are home. You see, you should be calmer with them, they are still little. By this moment I was ready to sit and write a manual of watching little children. You need a father’s touch, mother’s touch is already obsolete. They could assign me a school of juvenile delinquents and I will manage it all on my own. In this train of thought, her next question was not very significant:
- Where are they? I was ready to share with her the deep secrets of child raising, while gently encouraging her to listen carefully and to hope that one day she will absorb all this wisdom and reach my level, but if she doesn’t want to listen…well, let her go look for them herself.
- Somewhere around. – I dismiss her and relax back on the sofa with the remote-control.
5 seconds later the windows are vibrating and a moment later the sound wave has reached me:
- What the heck are you two doing??!! Kaloyaneeee! oh myyyyyyyy….. Come, come here and look!!!
Well, I don’t really want to go there. I don’t want to look, I don’t want to be in this apartment, or in this city. I want to be able to fly, or to become invisible. Something bad must have happened, my wife does not scream like this for good things. I am calculate how to fracture my leg, arm, spine…anything to make her have mercy on me for the unknown thing I must have done wrong. Too late, I must go. I approach, like a cat approaches a dog kennel. At first, I am struck by the unusual tint of our otherwise greenish tiles in the bathroom. I can distinguish some muddy traces, as if dirty squirrels have chased around. The children are uncharacteristically quiet and still, which arouses my curiosity and I start eyeing them suspiciously. I count their limbs, scan for blood, head bumps, or scratched. It is all good, why is this woman screeching like that? My eyes are signalling something to my brain, but I am slow to realize. I feel inadequate like an otter in a pharmacy, time has stopped. Rossi resigns in front of my catatonia of mine, and carefully asks:
- Their diapers, you see them? Their trousers are down? – she stops and waits for my brain to whir in action. Forcing myself to notice, I start hearing the hairs growing in my ear canal in the silence. Finally, the relief of awareness comes. With it, the horror. These children, who are they! Who brought them up like this, who made them??? Why did they do this? How can I get rid of them?
My wife seems amused by the changing expressions on my face, from not understanding to realisation, to murder intentions. I look like a turkey who thought it had laid a sewing machine, but on closer inspection it turns out to be a sewing machine.
The children are also confused, because apparently no one explained to them about art materials. It is conceivable to understand, that if the poo-poo has a suitable colour and acceptable consistency, then it must be good for art. Like two young, half-naked abstractionists, the two of them stand proudly next to their creations. When my voice finally reached my throat I roared:
- What the heck is this, beee?? – spraying saliva, tooth fillings and crowns from my mouth.
The twins politely raised hands to point which art piece is whose, and carefully, in case I am still mentally incapacitated, replied: