by Slo Mo
Hell finally froze over: Dog and I got all charitable the other day and agreed to host a pair of twin boys for a week while their mother - my old school buddy - celebrates her tenth wedding anniversary in peace and quiet. Not just twins. Not just boys. TEN YEAR-OLD TWIN BOYS.
Ohhh, my dear sweet lord. What did I get myself into?
The last time I saw Ronnie and Rowan they were cute and cuddly and confined to a stroller, gurgling and smiling while their parents recovered from the shotgun wedding they had a week after high school graduation. But we don't need to go there...
The funny thing is, while I haven't aged one tiny bit in the years since high school, Ronnie and Rowan have turned into walking, talking, sentient beings with definite opinions on various issues, not to mention a weird ability to complete each other's sentences and an affinity for playing horseshoe toss with Dog's tail.
I'm a complete novice when it comes to the domestic wildlife scene in general and boy-care in particular, but Ronnie and Rowan are doing their darndest to bring me up to speed. Here is my progress to date:
I knew I couldn't very well feed coffee and vodka to the boys, and I figured the health department probably knew what it was talking about, so I started with the FDA's nutritional pyramid as my meal-planning guide. What a mistake. Not only are fruit and vegetables entirely superfluous to a boy's diet, they can lead to mutiny at the dinner table. (And you don't know from food fights until you've had to scrape creamed corn off the ceiling.) Also, as it turns out, you can make your own breakfast cereal from chocolate cake and crushed corn chips. As a matter of fact, you can make just about any meal from chocolate cake and crushed corn chips...
Entirely optional. As long as Rowan and Ronnie start their day in clean clothes, I figure I've fulfilled my obligation to society. Beyond that, the boys have some pretty creative views on what does and does not count as appropriate attire. For instance, they wouldn't dream of going to Dairy Queen in anything other than their best Billabongs. But they think nothing of wearing the same undershorts for three days in a row, and I swear they just went rollerblading in their bathrobes. Plus, I've needed to insist on the importance of holding onto one's swimsuit when playing at the beach. We really can't have any more repeats of that mooning incident with the senator's wife.
Cardboard forts will do in a pinch, but tree-houses are preferred. Except during a lightning storm, when everyone knows the best place to be is in the swimming pool, preferably while touching an electric appliance.
Very loud. Very frequent. With foul words shouted under water for good measure.
This is where Dog and I really show our novice stripes. We thought sitting by the pool with a book and a drink was recreational - we were wrong. Ronnie and Rowan have other inclinations, most of which involve blowing stuff up. For instance, when they say "let's do a science experiment", what they really mean is "let's blow up the garage". And when they say "let's bake something in the kitchen", what they mean is "let's explode some pudding in the microwave". And when they say "let's go shopping", they mean "let's set off caps in the tampon aisle". And when they say "let's take Dog for a walk"... Uh-oh.
It's amazing how motivated a pair of ten year olds can be when you tell them no, you're not letting them use your $300 custom boogie board when they already have the lighter, cheaper boards that all the other kids use. Suddenly, the house becomes a hive of money-generating activity. Ronnie and Rowan started out by charging the neighborhood kids 50 cents each to peek at a dirty magazine they'd found under the boardwalk, but I put a stop to that when one of the young mothers down the street complained after her little darling came home and spelled c-u-n-t on her Fisher Price See'n'Say. Thanks to my crazy friend Joolz, the boys soon had another, bigger, better scam: Pookie-Poo, The Psychic Wonder Dog. It's sort of like a lemonade stand, except instead of lemonade they sell one minute "channeling sessions" with Dog, who is forced to sit on the lawn with a bowling ball (a.k.a. "the magic crystal of intuition") between his paws and a turban on his head. So far today, Ronnie and Rowan have made about $30 off gullible passers-by, and I've no doubt that by the end of the week they'll be able to buy their own custom boogie boards and the South Park DVD collection.
There is no rest. There... is... NO... rest.
I'd love to tell you how Ronnie and Rowan taught me to booby-trap a bathroom door with silly string and toothpaste, or what exactly happens when you mix hair dye with baby powder and use it to stucco the walls, but I need to go crawl in a closet and die. Please don't tell Ronnie and Rowan where I am, and PLEASE don't wake me until it's time for them to go home. Also, if you happen to see a Dog wearing a turban on his head and horseshoes on his tail, think carefully before you ask what he's doing with that bowling ball. It'll cost you $30.