We were eating breakfast one morning and I asked the kids: “How was your sleep last night?” In response, the baby flung a spoonful of jellied peas. I took that as baby sign language for: “Good!” The two-year-old said nothing at all, so intent was he on devouring the sausage on his plate. That I also let pass, as I follow the feral animal rule when it comes to children and food: never interrupt them when they’re eating. It’s so hard to get them to eat in the first place, if they are actually consuming nutrients to keep them going and growing (and stave off that hunger-induced crankiness), I’ll ride that wave as far as I can. So I also marked him down in the “Good” column. The four-year-old actually answered with verbal communication, stating: “Delightful.” That’s her new word these days. All things are delightful, from gold fish crackers to puffy clouds floating in the sky. If a thing is not delightful, it’s “horrid.” There is no middle ground in our four-year-old’s world (well, at least not in her vocabulary). Then she added: “I had some delightful dreams.” And she proceeded to tell us all about her dreams, which were (to a four year old), quite hilarious.
“Very nice,” I said. “Delightful dreams are wonderful.” Then I turned to her five-year-old sister, the last child at the table, and asked: “And how about you, Honey?”
“You and I are twins,” she said, “and I had the exact same dreams as you did.”
I had to smile. This was not some Sci-Fi phenomenon. This stems from the current fad around our house, which is for the children to list all the ways in which they are exactly like me.
That way the child and I are “twins.” These things include incredible coincidences which mark out the unmistakable fact that we are uniquely paired twin stars in all of the vast swirling cosmos, such as: I have brown hair, and they have brown hair. (Freaky!) I like barbeque sauce, and they do, too. (I’m getting dizzy contemplating the mind blowing probabilities of it!) Our eyes are the same color (well, not exactly, but sort of—I mean, they have blue eyes and I have brown, but our eyes are the same shade: my eyes are like medium brown—not too dark, not too light—and their eyes are medium blue, so if my eyes were blue they’d be the same blue as theirs, which means our eyes are practically the same color, see?). For the four-year-old, her favorite fact, which shows so clearly that we are but two faces of the same coin that it’s practically written in the stars, is that we both have the same “age number.” She is four years old, so her age number is “4”. And I also have a “4” in my age number. I won’t tell you where.
And, apparently, you can now add to our catalogue of believe-it-or-not similarities that we have “the exact same dreams” at night. Such is the amazing, consciousness-expanding life of non-twin twins.
I couldn’t resist the humor inherent in the situation, so I said: “That’s great, Honey. Why don’t you go ahead and tell them to me.”
I probably had a smirk on my face. But I should not have. I should have known better when it comes to contests of verbal badinage with this child (who is all of five years old). After all, this is the child who caused me to doubt myself about the movie Frozen, even after I watched it (involuntarily) about 20,000 times (I finally ended up letting it go all right, right straight in the trash . . . er, I mean, unfortunately that movie ended up getting lost when we moved). Anyway, my daughter kept saying that in Frozen the singing snowman’s name was “Ola.” I told her, “I think it’s Olaf.” No, she insisted, it’s Ola, not Olaf. “Well,” I pointed out, “Olaf is a real name, and Ola is not a real name, and all the other characters have names that are real names—Anna, Christoph, Elsa, Sven. So I’m pretty sure it’s Olaf.”
She fired back quick as a return in Olympic ping-pong: “Well all the other characters are real things—people and a reindeer—that’s why they have real names. But a singing snowman isn’t real, so it has a name that’s not a real name. Its name is Ola.”
Holy sizzling synapses, Batman! That was impressive. Impressive, yet, as it turns out, still wrong. I know because I looked it up. Yes, I actually looked it up. You know, her answer had logic to it, and, well, I didn’t remember with 100% certainty what the name was of a singing snowman in a Walt Disney movied, so I started to wonder. So I looked it up. No shame in that. Especially since I was right! The name is “Olaf” (and told her so, for all the good it did me: she still refuses to accept it).
The real take-away from that whole episode, though, was that I think I may have a burgeoning barrister on my hands. So I must tread with care when engaging this child in combat with dueling dialectic rapiers. Pray for me. The teen years could be rough.
Nevertheless, at breakfast I threw caution to the wind and when she told me that we had the exact same dreams at night, and I asked her: “Really? Tell them to me.”
And you know what that little bugger said? On the dime, without any hmming or hawing, she said: “I don’t remember now. You tell me.”
It just may be that indeed my daughter and I have such strong similarities that we share a common Cloud Drive in the sky for our dreams. We might . . . but later that day . . .
We went for our weekly shopping expedition to Target, and everyone was so good in the store (and I was so hungry) that I decided to get some breadsticks for a snack on the way home. The Target where we shop sells Pizza Hut breadsticks in their snack stand, and I LOVE Pizza Hut breadsticks (and yes, I know Target is more expensive, but they have those awesome three-seater grocery carts, and I shop with four kids aged five and under, so the extra passenger capacity is key; besides, we have a Redcard for the 5% discount, and did I mention they sell Pizza Hut breadsticks!?!). So I got some Pizza Hut breadsticks for us to eat in the car on the way home, and thought it quite the special treat. As I loaded the groceries in the car I congratulated myself on my great generosity to my progeny (and looking forward to tucking in myself). I could just see in my mind’s eye the joyful smiles on my children’s faces when first they beheld the wondrous parmesan topping that was to be theirs (and mine), and anticipating collecting their undying thanks for such a sumptuous morsel to munch on the way home.
And when everyone was finally buckled in, the big moment arrived. I held the precious cardboard cartons aloft for all to gaze upon, and said, in true showman fashion, “Whose ready for a little something I like to call . . . BREADSTICKS!?!” Some eager hands reached forward, but, curiously, not all the hands in the minivan. I started passing out the cheesy, delicious wonders, instructing each child to “Say thank you to Jesus for our snack!” as I handed them a breadstick (we don’t say a full “Bless us O Lord and these Thy gifts . . .” when we’re on the fly; for mobile meals our prayer is a short and sweet “Thank you Jesus for our food!”). But when I held out a breadstick to my four year old and told her: “Say thank you Jesus for our snack!” she declined to take it, and asked: “Can we say ‘No thank you Jesus’ if we don’t want one?”
Just ‘cause Daddy loves breadsticks doesn’t mean baby must, too. Some dreams we share, some we don’t.
The Bible tells us: “As one face differs from another, so does one human heart from another.” Prv 27, 19.
We share much with our kids—a home, meals, memories, even age numbers—and maybe even some dreams. But not all dreams. Our kids are their own people, placed in this world for a short time on a special mission from God. And their mission is always going to be different from our own—maybe slightly, maybe wildly—no matter extensive our list of similarities may be. So it’s a good thing that they are different from us, too. Besides, making a Xerox copy always introduces a slight degradation. Not so with originals. And God deals in originals—just ask the snowflakes (or the singing snowmen) (or the angels for that matter: every angel is a unique species unto itself). Our task as parents is to help our kids grow into that unique masterpiece God created them to be. And hey, as an added bonus, it just might mean more breadsticks for us!
Copyright 2015 Jake Frost.
Art work by Nicholas A. Tonelli. "Late-day light, New Smithville, Lehigh County" 15 September 2007, used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
About the Author
Jake Frost is an attorney, husband, and father of four grade-school aged kids. He’s the author of five books: Catholic Dad: (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family, and Fatherhood; Catholic Dad 2: More (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family, and Fatherhood; From Dust to Stars: Poems by Jake Frost; Victory! Poems by Jake Frost; and a children’s book he also illustrated called The Happy Jar.