C (one day): Penelope was just mean to me today. She said, “Why do you have to sit next to Gavin? You always sit next to Gavin. And, I don’t like you, Cory.” That’s not nice, right, Daddy? Penelope sometimes isn’t my friend.
C (roughly the next): Penelope is so much fun because we just played Wonder Woman and that means we ran around the tan bark and the boys just try to get away but they can’t because I am faster, well, I am faster than Penelope, too, but that’s okay because she’s so much fun and…
F (both days): Well, I like Penelope.
C (one day): Daddy, sometimes Gavin just likes to touch me and hold my hand, like, all the time, and I just don’t like that because we aren’t supposed to touch each other at school and I just can’t hold Gavin’s hand all day, right, Daddy? I don’t like that.
C (roughly the next): Gavin always wants to sit next to me and I like that because Pierce and I have so much fun, and he is so nice, and, Daddy? Daddy, can we play with Gavin and Bertrand right now?
F (both days): Yah, I like Gavin, Daddy.
C (one day): But, Daddy!! Hortense was not being nice! She just didn’t give me a turn to paint that pony, and she had that pony for a long time and Hortense just doesn’t give other people turns, and I don’t like that. She is not my friend.
C (roughly the next, after Hortense has run over to bear-hug her good-bye, promising to see Cory tomorrow): Hortense is so nice, Daddy, because we just played the balloon game together and, see, so first, you…
F (both days): Hortense is my friend.
Fisher sits down to focus on his Family Day poster. Meanwhile, Cory heads over to their “office” (a corner of the family room where they have a table next to bins with all their art supplies). At first, she is clacking away with a hole punch. Both twins love a hole punch.
He wants to be a vet when he grows up.
C: Daddy, how do you spell “love”?
If he could wish for anything, it would be snow all over California.
C: Daddy, how do you spell “happy”?
His ideal destination is Tahoe.
C: Daddy, how do you spell “poster”?
His favorite color is back to orange (from about a year-long stop at pink).
D: Cory, what are you making?
C (walking over and handing her finished piece to Fisher): I love you, Fisher. Happy poster!
F: Thanks, Cory.
There’s something about Family Day that stops the bickering.
A tired Cory doesn’t want to take a shower. Fisher has already taken his and sits quietly under a towel on the bed, watching as Daddy struggles to be nice to each of Cory’s…um…requests, all of them delivered in a…um…measured, polite, even, respectful indoor voice.
Cory continues rinsing the conditioner from her hair. Daddy starts through the bedroom to fetch her towel.
D (stopping at Fisher’s odd smile as he stares at Daddy): What, Fisher?
F (sing song): Nothing. (Pause.) Daddy, can I ask you a question?
D: Yes, of course.
F (still sing song): Is it hard taking care of us?
D (watching him closely): No, Fisher, not at all.
D: Sometimes it’s easier to have patience. Sometimes it’s harder. But, that’s what I’m here for. I love taking care of you.
Pause. Daddy waits for his response.
F (just smiling): Okay, Daddy. Can we lay down two minutes now?
D (wondering what he’s really thinking, if he’s really thinking anything else at all): As soon as Cory finishes and as soon as you both get in your jammies. And brush your teeth. Only kids with clean gums can lay down two minutes with Daddy.
F: Thanks, Daddy.
The struggle for patience is less of a reach for the rest of the night.
Mrs. Lamb asks Cory whom she wants to introduce first. She points to Papa. She stumbles a bit, deciding whether he should be Papa, Darin, Mr. Darin, etc. to the class. Mrs. Lamb helps her settle on “Mr. Medeiros,” which clearly sounds new and odd to her. She answers a few questions; for example, telling the class that she likes to cook with Papa.
Mrs. Lamb then asks Cory whom she wants to introduce next. She points to Daddy. She stumbles a bit, this time not with the form of the introduction. It’s clearly going to be Mr. Whatever. She struggles with the “whatever.” Daddy whispers, “Wickey.” She smiles and turns, “This is my Daddy, Mr. Wickey.”
The kids giggle, either because Cory couldn’t remember Daddy’s last name or because Wickey is a funny last name. It’s all good-natured. She then answers a question or two. What do you like to do with Daddy? Blank face. Staring at Daddy. Cheeks a little red. Then, in a halting voice, “I like to do puzzles with my Daddy.” (Note to self, dust off the puzzles.)
Later, Daddy teases her gently about not remembering Wickey. She laughs, explaining that a whole room full of people were looking at her, making it hard to think.
D (tickling her): You did great. Everyone needs a nudge now and then. And, it’ll get easier as you get used to it. Besides you have to remember two names for your daddies.
C: Medeiros for Papa and Wickey for Daddy.
D: Yep. Should I change my name to Medeiros to make it easier?
C (wrinkling her nose): No! You are Michael Wickey, not Michael Medeiros. Michael Medeiros? (Laughing.) That sounds funny.
It’s 7-ish after a 5 a.m. walk of the dogs. Daddy is suited up for a run. Too many days have passed with no exercise. But, the commuting schedule has now settled into a pattern. It’s time.
C (as Daddy moves toward the door): Daddy, can you please help me with my poster?
It’s Cory’s Family Day on Friday. Daddy and Papa and Fisher will join her at the beginning of class to watch her stand up in front of everyone, talk through a poster about herself and her family, and, if time permits, engage the class in some kind of activity. This year she’s one of the first presenters because she’s an experienced kindergartner and can help to show the other kids how it’s done. Cory’s family make-up is a bit unique in this school. (The twins are the only ones with same sex parents.) An ulterior motive behind presenting so early in the year is to reveal, to those kids who don’t yet know, and to confirm, for those kids that do, the particulars of her family.
But, now it’s Tuesday, a good Tuesday for a run, and Cory still has no poster ready.
C: Daddy, I want to have a picture of Kohl on that poster, but I just don’t know which pictures to draw, so…
The run is bound to be “good.” But, it’s bound to be “good” only in the sense that it will feel good to have it done. Afterward. That’s when it will feel good. Not good like, finished poster good.
Without much hesitation, Daddy says, “Okay!” Daddy helps Cory write out her name, identify and write out her favorite food, favorite color, and so on. She names Kansas as her favorite place, probably because she knows that she’s going there in December. She helps Daddy to pick out pictures to print put for certain categories: she picks out a picture of the dogs under “What do you wish for?” the answer to which is: “Another doggie like Kohl.” Where there is no appropriate picture, she gets to drawing: when she grows up, she currently wants to be a ballerina; because there’s no picture for that, she has to get creative.
Fisher helps by providing useful commentary from the sidelines. “Cheetah! Your favorite animal could be a cheetah, Cory! No, doggie! It could be doggie!” When she chooses “dolphin,” Fisher kicks the tires: “Are you sure you don’t want it to be doggie, Cory? You really like doggies. You can’t pet a dolphin, so…” He’s just as excited about her Family Day as she is, even though his part in the presentation is to sit there quietly, smiling and supporting his sister, just as he did last year, while she does all the talking. “Cory, are you sure you don’t want to write pomegranate seeds? You eat a lot of pomegranate seeds…”
Cory is satisfied with her particular choices and her poster overall. Papa rolls it up in her backpack. Her Tuesday morning proceeds without further incident…
…not so, Fisher’s. Shortly after class begins, he bursts out crying hysterically. He’s inconsolable. His teacher, Mrs. Powell, asks him what’s wrong. He says through heavy tears that he’s missed Cory’s Family Day, that he didn’t get to go over to Cory’s classroom to be with her and his daddies. She tries to calm him down, explaining that Cory’s Family Day isn’t until Friday, that it isn’t today. “Yes, it is!” He’s convinced, because Cory brought her poster in that day, that her big day is over and he had missed it. Mrs. Powell keeps at it…it’s Tuesday, the poster comes in a few days early, Family Day isn’t until Friday, etc. The upset continues. Mrs. Powell helps him eventually right his ship.
C (at Tuesday night dinner): Daddy, is it my turn to tell you a story?
D: Okay, Cory, whatcha got?
C: Um, today, Fisher was crying and crying and crying.
D: He was?
C: Because he thought that he missed my Family Day, but my Family Day wasn’t today. (Fisher eyes Daddy and looks down at his food.) But, he didn’t know. So, he just cried and cried and cried. And, Mrs. Powell just had a hard time to tell him that he didn’t miss it. (Fisher plays with his ketchup.) She gave him a sparkly [garbled], and he just kept crying even though she gave him that…
F: No, I didn’t keep crying!
D: Wait, you thought today was Cory’s Family Day?
F/C: Uh huh.
D: And, you were crying because you thought you missed it?
F/C: Uh huh.
C: And he just kept crying and crying.
D: I see, Fisher. That’s…
C: Fisher was crying because he’s my twin brother, and…
F: Cory shouldn’t have a Family Day, and I’m not there. That’s not right, right, Daddy?
D (reaching out a hand, which he takes): Right, Fisher. Cory would never have a Family Day without you there.
F: But, I didn’t keep on crying and crying, Daddy.
D (reaching across the table for Cory’s hand, which she gives): It doesn’t matter how long you cried, Fisher. It doesn’t matter one bit. You thought you missed Cory’s Family Day. I’d cry if I thought I missed Cory’s Family Day, too.
F: You would?
F: Okay, Daddy.
C (matter of fact): I’d cry if I missed your Family Day, Fisher. But, you didn’t miss it, Fisher. It’s on Friday.
F: I know that already, Cory, you poop.
She smiles at Daddy, ignoring the “poop.” Daddy keeps hold of their hands for a half a minute more.
F: Daddy, can you please let my hand go now so I can eat a chicken nugget?