"There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot." - Aldo Leopold

Friday, September 28, 2012

Toddlers vs. Bucks & Ducks

They'll be able to go in a few years...

It feels like a flock of sea gulls invaded our home. There are strange screeches and screams emanating from seemingly every corner of the house. The smells, ugh, the smells are varied and grotesque. Our hardwood floors are stained with little white blotches like from an old pier on the Atlantic coast. We live in a single family wharf. In all honesty, if we did have actual sea gulls shacking up with us it’d probably be cleaner than what these two kids have done.

We made one year with our twins. It feels more like five. There were actual two-year stretches in college where I did not log as many waking hours as I have in the last 52-week period.

And they are adorable. We’ve had considerable luck with their health, though when there’s a stomach issue it sweeps through this place drowning all in its path. They are walking, pulling stuff off shelves, counters, out of the trash, out of the toilet, etc. If one of them spit up a dollar’s worth of quarters I wouldn’t bat an eye. Their crying has mutated from the “I’m hungry” and “I need changing” to “irritating.” At this point, all you can do is crack your neck and shake your head.

Thanks to my lovely wife, I got away with quite a bit of hunting last year considering the circumstances. (Notice I keep using plural terms as a reminder to everyone that there are two toddlers. Twins. Don’t want anyone forgetting.) In full confession, I don’t recall much of anything from September through Thanksgiving. One day I woke up in waders while duck hunting and that flickered my stream of consciousness back to light. Then about April, right about the time I was returning from a successful turkey hunt, I kinda gave up hope that this was all an elaborate 7-month dream. Nightmare. High. Buzz. Pick your term.

There were several hunts last year that hunting was way down the list of goals, having been knocked down a peg by sleeping. I can hear Carolyn now: “Sleeping???? You drove all the way to North Carolina with your buddies to sleep in a treestand??? While I’m here alone with them unable to bat an eye for a second’s rest? You’d better hunt and kill deer next time or don’t bother going!” That’s sort of what we went through. It's definitely affected my writing. Attempting to concentrate on what you're typing with crying children in the background is about like trying to paint in the rain.

By the time turkey season rolled around, the kids’ awareness of the household routine had developed. Funny thing about those formula-stained hardwood floors – they are exceptionally creaky at 3:30 in the morning. Same goes for the hinges on the closet that holds most of my gear. So I’d place all my stuff in the kitchen the night before and change there when it was time to leave. Inevitably I would forget something and have to tip-toe back across the floor, praying to all that is holy that the kids didn’t pick up the noise.

“Wahhhh. Wahhhhhhhhhhhhh! Whhaaaaaaaahhhhhh!” (Remember - take that and double it.)

That of course woke Carolyn up and those innocent weekday mornings of silently slipping off for a turkey hunt before work came to a sudden conclusion.

I tell you the worst was the start of gator season. Now that they can motivate, they drag toys all over the house and deposit them in random fashion. For those of you without kids, let me explain a few things. One, these toys are constructed of military-grade plastic. I have multiple hairline fractures in several metatarsals from inadvertently – or advertently, depending on my mood – kicking them while zombie-ing through the house in the evenings. Two, they all sing songs like “If You’re Happy and You Know it Clap Your Hands.” And damn if they don’t make batteries last longer than they used to. Three, any friend you have who has passed this stage with their own children will be more than happy to dump their leftover toys at your place morning, noon, and night. I can’t keep track of what’s coming in. I need a Customs agent at my door. Most of it is in like-new condition because, you see, kids don't like to play with toys. They like paper towels and power plugs and empty water bottles and hygiene products they find in the trash. If it wasn't for the powerful plastic lobby and our need to supply the Chinese with jobs, there wouldn't even be toys. 

So here I am a few weeks back all excited about the gator hunt. Clothes and gear by the back door. My zip-line-across-the-floors and something involving monkey bars ideas were shot down due to a lack of household ambience, but no matter. I scouted a quiet route prior to the hunt and discovered I could hop like a checker piece from spot to spot and dash out the door before any crying and feel that relief…er…guilt about leaving.

The lights are off, of course, so I start my little dance to reach the safety of the kitchen. But I did not pick up on the one toy in my path that was not there during my recon trip. It ricocheted off my freshly crushed toe, slobbered-slick, down the hall, singing all the way before coming to a halt in front of the nursery. There wasn’t much clapping going on that morning, and I’ve never feared the dark as much as I do now. 
...if they behave!

Ahh, kids. Twins. Remember that. Twins. I’m looking forward to a deer hunt this weekend. One year ago on this hunt, I was sleeping – yes, that’s right – in the bed of the truck during the midday. Out in the middle of nowhere, I heard children crying and sat up and about ran to get bottles. Then I realized the swaying oak branch above and sensed it would all be alright. And it has been.

Have some good hunts planned for this season. Per usual a few will fall through. And I don’t feel as bad or anxious about getting away. Hell, the kids are one and practically take care of themselves now, anyway.

And if worst comes to worst, I’ll happily drop them off with some toys at a friend’s house for a few days.

Morning, noon, or night!

1 comment:

kmurray said...

Gosh they sure are cute!

I loved this post Ian. Everything about it was awesome and I find myself smiling now as I have too have done the "ninja dance," as I call it, to escape the camper and head off to the buck woods for a blissful nap...ehhhh... I mean hunt, lol!

Best of luck to you in the field. Keep those peepers open if you can!