This morning was the usual for the two girls. Avery is always earlier to rise than Sienna and this morning was no different. I figured that I could sneak in and wake them up to prepare them for school, but Ave was already telling Si a story as my steps caused the floor boards to creak outside of their personal beach. I walk in and am bombarded by beach balls from both beds. The usual hassle about who gets to wear which shirt and both want to wear the same shoes, despite having matching pairs. I get them dressed, finally, and start breakfast. Avery wants cereal, Sienna bacon and eggs. Soon after I serve them their orders I notice that they’ve begun to trade food. I should have just made enough bacon and eggs for both of them. When we’ve finished breakfast I walk them to school-across the street then go home to take care of my chores. That’s right, I’m a stay at home Dad.
11:30 am-I have decided that today I shall remove the training wheels from their bikes. Over the past month or so I have gradually raised them to a level where they’re not really in use but more of a placebo. I am sure there will be some resistance.
12:17 pm-I pick the girls up from school and we walk across the street. Bikes placed strategically on the front porch make the girls excited. But homework (yes, homework, can you believe how far kindergarten has come?) comes first. Ave notices something different about her bike and makes mention of it. “Daddy, where are the twaining wheels,” her missing front teeth cause r’s to be muddled. She is agitated with my answer but agrees to do her homework; Sienna is too focused on the beautiful butterfly that landed on the glider to concern herself with such issues as “twaining wheels,” she’s the artistic one.
The alphabet is said then repeated and we practice writing our names. Both girls have unique ways that they hold their pencils, so do I. Mommy calls at her usual time and talks to both girls, well, listens to both girls. They tell her of the boys at school and playing new games and butterflies and coloring books and movies and toys and teachers and oh, my I am eternally grateful that they are here. The small things hardly matter anymore.
I fetch the helmets from the shelves above the basement and properly install them upon small heads. Avery’s is baby blue, Sienna’s, pink. But one of my favorite games, and partially because I have a color vision deficiency, is to place the helmets on the opposite girl. Sienna remedied this by writing the first initial of the right girl on their respective helmet. I tell her I can’t read.
Out the door and across the street to the parking lot. Si has now noticed that there are no training wheels on her bike. I ask which of them wants to go first. Avery is busy speculating about the gear ratio and if she should upgrade to a 25 tooth chainring-at least that’s what her former bike mechanic Dad wants to believe, her concern is probably something more along the line of the oily build-up touching her pants.
By way of flipping a coin I convince the girls that Si should go first. With Avery as our cheering section (watching birds) we begin. I hold onto the back of her seat as she begins to pedal then as she picks up speed I let go. Of course she falls. Avery is now focused on ants that are crawling on the sidewalk. Up we go and try again. This time Si manages five feet before she falls. She decides she wants to stop for now. Avery’s turn. Avery has built a fence to corral her new pet ants. I convince her that they will be just fine in the fence she has built and get her mounted onto her bike. She falls and gets frustrated. I hug her and talk her into another try. Falls again. Si’s drawing pictures in the dirt.
Both girls tell me that they’ve had enough but I persist and each does try again. Soon they’ve told me that they can’t do it. They just can’t ride the bikes. Half frustrated myself I carry both bikes home as the two walk next to me. I make both of them go to the potty and then wash their hands. Sippy cups in hand-baby blue for Avery and pink for Sienna-I tell them to come to the computer with me. I show them pictures of themselves from their first days, weeks, and months of life. I tell them the story of how they were born. I tell them about how they recovered. I tell them to never say that they can’t do something because I know that they can. We will have this conversation for the next thirteen years.
August 07, 2010-The snap back to Reality
This morning’s visit was rough on both Robin and I. I believe that two days of good reports and then a “blah” report for each girl caused us to be stricken with anxiety. We had both hit our physical boundaries again. I cried hard, but not because of the reports that we received, rather because as a father I have been unable to do what comes most naturally to all parents in nature-I cannot defend my babies. I cannot even hold my babies. I have been told by the nurses that, that time will be soon. We will have this conversation for weeks to come.