Tuesday, November 14, 2006


A SUDDEN TWINSTORM


Got a phone call the other evening that that affected our slow and calm and measured pre-winter preparations a little bit like that meteor affected the dinosaurs. As it happened, our son-in-law's grandmother (whom we've never met) had suddenly passed away at the age of 96; the wake was to be held on Monday and the funeral on Tuesday in Otsu, the city at the south end of the lake.

Since Kasumi, Tatsuya and family would be coming, and the boisterous, yakky 3-year-old twins could not comfortably be taken to a somber wake by any stretch of anybody's imagination, they were to be placed in our charge for a whole afternoon and evening on Monday which, since Monday is Echo's day teaching yoga in Kyoto, meant my charge, right out of the blue like that. Not that I sought one, but there was no escape.

When the young family got here yesterday, Kaya was asleep in the front seat (being old enough, she would be going to the wake, in her new school uniform) and the twins were just two cute little blobs of doze in the back; but when they were unloaded into the house they firmed up, regained their normal dimensions and slowly looked around, realized where they were and took over as Kasumi said goodbye and drove off, leaving me alone in a house on a mountainside with two speedy embodiments of hunger, thirst and curiosity.

They wanted to know what everything was that had not been here before, what could be eaten and what could be drunk, item by item, for example that red-topped jar with what looks like very tasty walnuts in it, and these interesting multicolored tea bag packets is the woodstove hot, what's that up there can I climb this I want to watch a video I like these chairs we can't open the bathroom door I'm going upstairs and look around can I open this box what happens if I put this on my head

I made the mistake of trying to distract them from the world at large and get them into seats by offering them some fresh persimmons and a cup of blueberry tea that disappeared in Guinness Book time, after which I have never seen anyone want to go to the bathroom so often. They do have tiny bladders, but every 20 minutes? (With twins, that's every 10 minutes.) It was a clock-racing relay marathon.

One of them has acquired a strong fondness for running, so I played the starter pistol while she ran back and forth across the long living room a few dozen times, with bathroom breaks. The other one, who had a bit of a cold, just walked. With bathroom breaks. I still can't tell quickly and confidently which one is Miasa and which is Mitsuki, so for example when one of them was doing something suspicious while I was going to open the bathroom door for the other, I tried the overall shorthand of just saying “Mi-chan! Don't do that!” ("-chan" is the diminutive) And they'd both look at me with that touch of puzzlement they frequently use in my presence.

I've mentioned before that the twins have their own language. Every once in a while one of them would sidle up to me, clearly after some kind of indulgence, and say in that tiny indulgineering voice, something like "bion papete..." I'd say What? "bion papete..." I'd say What does that mean? And so it would go back and forth in more and more of their words, the other twin slowly drifting over, when we'd get into a Joycean-Wonderland conversation about I couldn't imagine what; they couldn't see why I couldn't understand - I seemed in other matters to be sufficiently intelligent for their requirements - until for example they'd lead me by the hands to some sunflower seeds they'd found deep in a cupboard and wanted to relate to as locusts relate to regions of Africa.

Fortunately I'd been firewooding for a couple of hours when the dauntless duo arrived, so I was full of energy too and could handle it all, plus the lifting and carrying involved. Nothing like working with oak to prepare you for a visit from the twins.

6 comments:

Joy Des Jardins said...

Sometimes those surprise visits are the best....No time for preparation. You can't prepare for twins anyway...it's impossible. Sounds like you handled everything beautifully Robert. Don't worry about the "twin lingo"...that's pretty tricky to absorb...even on a daily basis. You kept up with them, and that warrants a "Nice job Super G."

Robert Brady said...

Thanks, joy; had to reach deep down into my bag of tricks, but I sure slept well that night...

Chancy said...

I bet you did sleep well R. I like your twins stories.

Winston said...

I remember the exhilarating, exhausting frustration of trying to cope with a 3-year old grandchild. But two at one time? I am not at all certain that I would have survived to tell the story as you did.

mary lou said...

Are you sure it was the twins that made you sleep or the firewooding?

I just love your twin stories.

Robert Brady said...

Thanks, mary lou; they'll be visiting again next month for the holidays, so there will be more twin stories... and more nights of profound sleep...