Different Routes to the Exact Same Place

If opposites really do attract, then I suppose Caroline and I are no exception. She’s the picture of well-organized domesticity while I’m the picture of chaotic bachelor dumbass-ticity. She stocks the fridge. I raid the pantry. She’s big on room service. I like cooking over a campfire. She could spend two hours in The Container Store looking for sub-containers to better organize her containers. I could spend two hours looking for my keys. Our dog, Briggs, makes her sneeze. Our dog, Briggs, makes me laugh. And the list goes on and on.

Accordingly we have very different parenting philosophies. She’s a choose-your-battles kind of gal while I’m more of a give-them-an-inch-and-they’ll-take-a-mile guy. Last night, with the bases loaded (all three of our two-year-olds sitting on their respective potties), our conflicting styles clashed. Jack was reluctant to stay on his potty because he wanted the toy computer. I quickly told him that wasn’t an option. “Just let him have it, honey,” said Caroline. “He can play with it while he’s doing his business.”

Feeling strongly that this was a bad call, I did what any smart, self-respecting husband would do. I caved. (After all, my husbanding philosophy happens to be Caroline’s parenting philosophy.) Still, I couldn’t help but to offer up my two cents.

“Fine, but don’t blame me if he turns into a ten-year-old who can’t take a shit without riding his bicycle into the bathroom.”

Dejected, I left the potty-training station and moved on to the homework station where our eight-year-old was having difficulty with her currency-oriented math assignment. If you offered a dollar for an apple that cost sixty-five cents, which two coins would you get back as change, and how many cents would those coins equal? While the answer is obvious—a quarter and a dime totaling thirty-five cents—Alli asked at least that many clarifying questions before eventually figuring it out.

Our math exploits were interrupted by a ruckus from the potty-training station. Jack had taken a whiz on the computer keyboard. I rolled my eyes at Caroline, giving her my best I-told-you-so look. “I don’t want to hear it,” she said. “The only reason why I let him have the computer is because I’m desperate for results! Do you realize that he hasn’t pooped since Sunday morning?”

Two and a half days without dropping the deuce? It seemed like Alli wasn’t the only one having a hard time breaking a dollar. Eventually our academic and scatological endeavors ran their course, and when they did, Alli took little Sammy upstairs to play in her room while Caroline bathed Jack. She felt the chore was beyond my capabilities due to Jack’s legendary constipation which by that time had rendered him a listless, fleshy mass of humanity; one who sporadically shouted Poo poo! while pointing toward his bottom and shaking his head “no.” I gladly took a seat next to Kirby, our baby girl, excited for some one-on-one time with her.

Have you ever felt under-appreciated? The minute Caroline left to bathe Jack, Kirby threw a fit, wailing incessantly as tears streamed down her tiny cheeks. I tried all my usual tricks to make her stop, but nothing worked. She’s reached that age when, every now and then, only Mommy will do. Eventually sanity (along with potential noise code violations) necessitated a mid-bath swap. Caroline took Kirby and I finished bathing Jack, taking particular caution when cleaning near his, um, yes, well, you know, his, um…that.

Minutes later Alli came rushing downstairs carrying Sam, who was in hysterics and flailing wildly in her arms. The back of his shirt was covered in blood that was trickling down from his head. He had bumped it on the neck of Alli’s guitar (which she can’t play) during a three-song Hannah Montana lip-synching bender. Luckily, it looked a lot worse than it actually was, and as soon as we cleaned the little guy off, order was once again restored.

Just before bedtime, the entire family gathered in the nursery. I watched as the triplets took turns kissing each other goodnight, an act which Alli facilitated with comical (and obeyed) commands she issued in her baby voice. Our once strife-laden evening had transformed into a peaceful, tranquil one thanks to four very different children coming together to share an earnest and loving moment. A half hour before, when Alli was filled with questions, and backed-up Jack was filled with something else? When tears flowed freely from Kirby while blood did the same thing from Sam? Nothing could have been further from the truth.

I was left with but one question. How could four kids with such different personalities, each traveling a million miles an hour in vastly different directions come together through all that madness to share such love?

I glanced at my beautiful wife who was busy picking up the toys I would have waited until morning to straighten up, the woman who was not only the truest love I have ever known, but who was also my virtual opposite, and I suddenly found the answer to my question, more than a little disappointed that I even had to ask it.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
About john cave osborne

John Cave Osborne is a writer whose work has appeared on such sites as DisneyBaby, Babble, YahooShine, TLC and the Huffington Post. He was also referenced by Jezebel one time, but he’s pretty sure they were making fun of him. He and his wife, Caroline, live with their five children and spastic dog in Knoxville, TN. Nothing annoys him more than joke-heavy bios written in the third person, with the possible exception of Corey Feldman.