Today was NUTS. Not in a good way, either. I blogged earlier about how I think dressing identical twins alike is a safety measure, so that in the event one gets lost in public, you have a carbon copy to show the police what they should look for.
But what do you do if they get lost IN YOUR OWN HOUSE?
Some of you know that we're a homeschooling family. We've always tended toward a relaxed approach, but ever since we took our oldest to college last month, my 13yo 8th grader has been inspired to work harder so he can go to an awesome place like UPJ. So, at his request, we are "ramping up the schooling" to ensure he'll make the cut.
To accomplish this, I must become more regimented, more demanding, less forgiving, raise my expectations. I'm trying to add in new elements one at a time, but it's a challenge for this laid-back homeschooling mom, and it requires that I earmark more time for working with the oldest two.
This is where I get back around to the twins.
Today was stressful. I was spending one-on-one time with the older two homeschooled kids, while the younger two homeschooled kids watched a tv program with the twins. My husband was also around here somewhere, and I assumed that between the three of them, Theresa, Clare and Andy, they could keep tabs on the twins.
So at some point I became aware that my husband was looking for Natalie. No big deal. I mean, we're all in the house. How far can she go? She's really not that into potty training, so when she has to poop, she hides and gets real quiet-like. In fact, she thinks it's hilarious to hide from us, and she's got an unnatural ability to remain silent. So I'm not too concerned, initially.
But when they don't find her after a few minutes, I start to pray and go to investigate. The other kids are alerted, and we scatter to the four winds, calling her name. Not that we expect her to answer us when she's in stealth mode, anyway. Somebody crosses the street to check the neighbor's swingset. Somebody checks the yard. Somebody checks the beds, because she loves to crawl under the covers and has often fallen asleep that way. Somebody goes up to the third floor and down the back stairs. Check behind every closed door, because they can shut doors but they can't turn doorknobs. Man, this is a big house. And there are so many places to hide. After about 10 minutes, when my husband starts to check the woods behind the house, I realize that it's time to panic.
A note of desperation begins to creep into my voice as I call out her name. My silent prayers become breathless, out-loud prayers as I beseech Jesus, the Blessed Mother, and my favorite saints to protect Natalie and keep her from harm until we find her. At one point, I even start praying, "Oh Dear God, I don't care if she's drawing on the walls. I don't care if she has a Sharpie and she's drawing on anything in the house; my favorite king-size expensive sheets, my furniture or upholstery, my business paperwork. I don't care, just let me find her!"
And sure enough, on the second or third pass through the third floor, I start into my bedroom and find her standing there, guiltily. She's frozen. I'm frozen. Paralyzed with relief.
"Natalie, where were you?"
She answers in a tiny voice, "Nowhere."
Again. "Natalie, where were you?"
"Hidin under you bed."
Under my bed. UNDER MY BED?? I'm shaking and I'm near tears, but I lean out my bedroom window and call in a ragged voice, "I found her!" to call off the search. Then I sit down and calmly but forcefully tell her NO HIDING and ALWAYS ANSWER MOMMY AND DADDY WHEN WE CALL YOU. And of course, I hug her. Tight.
Oh, Thank You, Dear Jesus. Crisis averted.
But that kind of 5-alarm-fire is exhausting, emotionally and physically. And there is still all that schoolwork to cover. And to top it off, my normally-placid husband is in an exceptionally bad mood and is letting everybody know it. So he's storming around the house and shouting, and I'm trying to get'r'done with the same number of kids at the end of the day as when I started. Finally he leaves for work (night shift), I put those naughty twins for a short nap, I assign the older kids a lesson to do on their own, and I sit down with Clare & Theresa to do some school.
There's about one peaceful hour of this. Then Brian leaves for football practice, and I send someone in to rattle the twins' cages so we can eat dinner then go to a playground. I am finishing up a business email when they wake up. I really, genuinely thought they were still in their room until Natalie came to me and asked, "Where my sister Noelle?" Ummm...I don't know. Don't YOU know? Doesn't anybody know?
Oh, good Lord, not again...
My deepest fear is losing a child to death or abduction because of a moment of negligence. HOW could this be happening twice in the same day? WHY, with all the people in this house, can't we keep track of these little critters?
We do the same scattering routine, almost like a well-oiled machine. Across the street. In all the rooms. Up the front stairs and down the back. And Conor finds her in the alley behind our house, just outside the back gate. She, too, has gone in search of someplace "private" to do #2. I still have no idea which way she went out, or how she did it with nobody noticing.
Thanks be to God for such an anticlimactic ending to the day's events. But I don't know how much more of this I can take.
A typical scene in our house. The perpetrators. Natalie, wearing her customary hat, is also exhibiting her customary impish glint. Noelle, usually the snitch to Natalie's mischief-making, is proving that she's got a mischievous tendency as well.