“Where is your shoe?”
“Seriously. Where is your shoe? There’s one over there and there’s one over there. Both lefties, one a sandal, one a tennis shoe. Where are the other ones?”
Thus began the twenty minute search to find two matching pairs of shoes out of the six pairs that my twin boys’ own. I hate dealing with shit like this on a weekday when we have to get out of the house by a certain time so I can get to work. It’s stressful, it makes me crabby, it starts the day off chaotically and I fucking hate it.
“This is unreal. How are there no shoes. Did we leave them outside?”
“That was rhetorical.”
“And that’s why I don’t hate you,” I think as I push Mr. Rhetical by the back of the blue horned helmet that he’s barely removed since we bought it from Walmart toward the kitchen. I leave him to stand as I check the shoeless-deck and say, “Loren, can you please go in the kitchen and look around for the shoes please?”
Perfect. Until his second step leads him to the opening of the in-house teepee in the corner of the kitchen.
“Shoes! Look for shoes in there.”
Typically, my boys talk, a lot. Most of their chatter is decipherable to adults these days but we still reach that impasse where, after asking them to repeat three times, you both look at each other—hopelessly—and move onto something else. But when my kids either don’t understand what I’m asking or have no intention of helping me with whatever I need from them, they become boisterous in their agreeability. Ryder, help me look for shoes. Yeah! Loren, I’m not feeding you tonight. Yeah! Ryder, I’m going to the liquor store, see you tomorrow around lunch. Yeah! A smart person would figure out how to use this to her advantage. I’m working on it.
My kids are little weevils. They’re always around to annoy the shit out of me and eat my food, but when I want them to appear, when I need them to do something like eat a weed or find a fucking shoe, they’re nowhere to be found.
“Ryder,” I say as I bend over the $2,100 coffee table I bought pre-children. The glass no longer sits like it should thank you cartons of Ripple and the aggressive temperature testing of my coffee and, the edges certainly aren’t fit for children, but I don’t care. I need pieces of myself here and there no matter how bruised and disrespected. As for the edges, there is nothing wrong with carefully placing weapons disguised as furniture around your house when you have boys. Oh, keep ignoring me by jumping on the couch, see how that corner feels in your sternum. Just kidding. It hit him in the arm. “Can you help LoLo and I find matching shoes? I don’t even care what type of shoe. We just need matching pairs.”
I look at the clock. We need to leave in five minutes. It’s at this moment that I run through the 408 things I did last night that were supposed to make this morning seamless, but somehow did not. Clean the house, vacuum, do the dishes, take out the trash and recycling, make them lunch for today, go through the diaper bag, restock the diaper bag, place their sweatshirts near the front door, do laundry, pick out their outfits, stack their morning reading books on my night table, shower, put my purse near the door, locate my keys, blah, fucking blah, blah, blah.
Oh, mama in that sweet little voice coming from that sweet little face that I could just eat right up.
“Since you’re by the couch—” literally, when he bends over it pushes him into the blocks under the coffee table—“just look under the couch for me okay?”
And then. “Do you want it?”
“You found one?” Hopefully, I walk to the other side of the table. “That’s a block.”
“Yeah! I—more blocks!”
“But we’re looking for a shoe. Any of well, ten, really.”
The boys have a total of four matching pairs of shoes that fit. Some are for sun, some are for hiking, some are for running. WHERE ARE THEY!? I know the kids wore them inside last night. I remember taking them off. I actually remember putting them in the shoe bin before bed…those sneaky little—
—I grab the three shoes that are in the shoe basket directly in my line of vision—one Puma, one Nike and a Keen—and place them on the stairs behind the baby gate so that the clever little fuckers that kicked the shit out of my womb can’t further sabotage our exit.
“How is this possible?”
“Woa!” Ryder says, holding up two BIG BLOCKS. “I build a tower.”
“Beautiful. Loren!” I yell from the living room. “Have you found any shoes?”
I march into the kitchen, pass the teepee and see little blue ears poking out from over the counter that separates the teepee from the fridge. “Which shoes did you find?” I say as I round the corner.
“It’s fuzzy.” Loren hands me a half chewed slice of Cutie that is indeed wearing a sweater. A mixed blend of dog hair and mold by the looks of it. “Oh my God don’t eat that. Where did you find that?” I toss the Cutie into the sink.
“But I want it!” Loren starts pouting.
“It’s fine, buddy, I’ll get you a whole Cutie that you can peel yourself. Just let me find some shoes.”
“I peel it. I peel it. I peel it. Mama, I peel it. I peel it.”
Usually, Ryder is the far more demanding voice in our household, but I’m somewhat grateful that Loren is temporarily filling Mussolini’s shoes as his reminders cut through the din of Ryder building and then bulldozing his block towers on my precious table.
This noisy chaos converges in my hallway rooms only to ricochet off the walls of the entire downstairs, five-to-ten times a day. Most of the time, I lean into them although there are times—now, for example—when I see myself in cartoon form, steam bursting from my ears, feet starting to flutter off of the ground, face reddening.
“Loren. Yes, you can peel it.”
“No, I peel it.”
Fucking a. I put my hands up in surrender and reach for a Cutie.
As I start the Cutie so Loren can indeed peel it himself, he toddles off of his step stool and grabs a blueberry off of the floor.
“Where in the hell did that come from?” I say as I grab Loren’s wrist, extract the blueberry from his hands and give him the Cutie.
“Right there mama,” he says pointing to the deep, dank space under the sink cabinet.
Gross. I get on my hands and knees, pleased that I’m wearing linen pants since, more often than not, underwear are a personal luxury, and prepare myself for a fuzzy fruit bowl.
“Oh my God. Baby!” I yell. “Shoes!! Baby! You found three shoes!”
“Good job!” I pick up the shoes and wrap Loren in an enormous hug as if he’s done something truly great instead of accidentally coming across the shoes he hid earlier while raiding his snack stash.
“Ryder,” I say as I carry his triumphant brother into the living room, “Loren found enough shoes that you both can wear sandals that match now. Isn’t that great?”
Ryder takes one look at my hand, shakes his head, sweeps all of the blocks onto the floor in a giant thunderous rage and starts to melt into the floor, back body slowly surrendering to the carpet as he yells, “I no wanna wear sandals!” And then, in addition to kicking his heels on the ground, Ryder delicately places his right hand over his forehead palm facing up, eyes closed.
Been there buddy, been there.