The twins have turned into absolute rascals. They cannot be left unattended for even a few seconds. Our house is as childproof as can be, but, unless you live on a ship, some things just can’t be nailed down or set in concrete. For example, the dining table. It’s not made to be pushed around, right? Well, the kids got sick of being reprimanded for pushing the chairs around, so they decided to push the table around, instead! They also love to rip the bedsheet off the mattress (absolutely infuriating for me, having to tuck it all back in neatly); throw the top trunk off the bottom one in their bedroom (dangerous if they get caught under it); incessantly slam shut doors and drawers that they can both open and close; turn on the tap in the bathroom basin and turn off the tap that fills the toilet flush tank; take out all the clothes from the laundry basket, drag them all over the house, and put on as many of them as they can; throw clean and dry clothes into a bucket full of dirty, wet clothes; and generally drive me mad in short order.

They now know how to get into and out of their high chairs without any assistance whatsoever. They can’t yet undo the clasps that buckle them in place, so they simply stand up in the chair and the belt falls off their feet and then they scramble off with utter delight.

There’s no longer a single horizontal surface in the house that is safe from their grasping hands. I’m not exaggerating. It’s not as though they’ve attained my height – short enough as that is – it’s more to do with the fact that I don’t usually stand on the chairs to put things away, but they, merrily and without a second thought, will pull up a chair, or cushion, or whatever else is required to reach things they want to reach. The kitchen counter is an area that sees constant skirmishes. They have to grab every single thing they see there, most of which I don’t want them to grab – sharp knives, electric starter for the gas stove, glass glasses, mugs of hot coffee, and plastic boxes full of hot and/or fluid food that can be easily opened and spilt.

Before we bought this new fridge, which is about 6 feet tall, I used to use the fridge top of our old, small fridge, as a convenient dumping ground safe from the kids’ reach. Now, I can dump things on top of the new, tall fridge; it’s just that, having done so, I literally lose sight of the object and can never find it again. The top of the washing machine has long since been swept clean, as has the top of the chest of drawers, which was formerly sacrosanct. The only spaces which are safe are those which are physically locked – the study, and both verandahs. These, therefore, specially the study, now resemble municipal dumping grounds – every single object which is required but to be kept out of reach of kids winds up in the study, except the particularly offensive ones such as old, spare tyres, half used cans of paint, and half sacks of cement. (You really don’t want to know!)

The other day, I turned my back on the kids for two seconds – yes, two whole seconds – and they made a beeline for their latest obsession – the wires dangling in the living room. We have wires dangling all over the house, most of them up near the ceiling where Amit can’t get entangled in them. (It’s ugly, but it’s nothing compared to the paint flaking off the walls.) The wires in the living room connect the speakers to the music system. They’re draped way high up on the wall, well out of my reach. The kids grab one wire simply by climbing up on to the sofa. Not on to the seat of the sofa, mind you, on to the back of the sofa. Then they stand up there. That brings the wire within arm’s reach. They almost brought a large framed painting down in the process.

Meanwhile, their verbal skills are improving in leaps and bounds. They now know they name of their new school, though they sometimes get it mixed up with quite different matters. Mrini went to the bathroom and said, “Mama, new school, sussu kiya,” (=I peed). I guess Sishu Griha sounds a bit similar. Another salient bathroom observation, after she does the big job: “Mama, aloo (potato).” Well, it does look a bit like one, I suppose, but must she point it out to me?

The other day we came back from a long, hot morning outing. It was time for their afternoon nap, but they were both thirsty. I gave them water somewhat warily, since I didn’t want their new school (or sussu kiya) happening on the bed during their nap. But Tara wanted more and more water. When she’d had about 200 ml, I told her to stop. Then she pulled out her trump card: “Mama, little bit”. So I filled a little bit of water in her bottle and handed it to her. Immediately she gave me an outraged look and said in an accusatory tone: “That’s all?”

Yesterday afternoon, around 5, I went in to wake the girls up. I don’t usually do this, but they usually get up around 3. Yesterday, they had gone to sleep late, and I didn’t want them sleeping too late and then not being sleepy at night, so I went to wake them up. I knelt on the bed to give Mrini a wake-up kiss. In a sleepy, grumpy, disgusted (and very adult) tone, she said to me: “Mama, go away.”

Tara loves to converse. Every so often, she’ll pull up her chair (whatever that happens to be at the moment), sit down next to me and say, “Mama, let’s talk.” If I agree (which I usually do), she’ll set the ball rolling: “Mama, how are you?” Then she follows it up by asking my name, “baba’s” name, “this girl’s” name (Mrini, that is) her own name, the table’s name, the sofa’s name, my jeans’ name… on and on, till she runs out of objects and starts over.

Yesterday evening, a new word was added to the family vocabulary when Mrini came to me and said, “Mama, all fetty-fetty.” I thought she was merely being rude (or factual; in this case it amounts to the same thing) and calling me fat, but I was puzzled, because “fatty” is not a word we have used with them. Then she rubbed her head and said, “fetty-fetty” again. Oh, right. Sweaty-sweaty.

Their pronunciation is often interesting. The other day, we fed them some rusk at dinner time. They can’t say rusk, of course, so they called it “rocks”. Today, they wanted rocks for breakfast, so I gave them some. Later on, somebody asked them what they had for breakfast! My heart sank – if they said “rocks”, I’d probably be imprisoned for child abuse or neglect or something. At the very least, I’d be impaled by a dreadfully dirty look. Thankfully, they simply replied “milk”.

Despite our best efforts, a couple of vulgarities have entered their vocabularies as well. They know that we look at the clock and comment on the time, so they look at the clock and go, “Ten o’clock.” Except, they can’t say the “l” in clock.

Then, once in a way, their frock gets entangled with their underwear. Tara coined a word to describe this: “frock-in”. Again, they haven’t mastered “r” yet, so… Next time that particular four letter word escapes me, I’ll have to hastily pretend it was their frock I was referring to.


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