One of the first lessons that I learned as the father of twins is that parenting is largely comprised of two emotional states, fear and dread. The sense of dread at the nigh infinite array of terrible events that can befall vulnerable babies and toddlers is a constant. It is the background music of parenting. Fear is the musical stings, the cat scream in horror movies if you will, that jumps out at you and gets your adrenaline pumping. Fear is what parents experience when their toddlers, who have just barely begun to walk, meander toward sharp objects and stairways.
In short, being a parent is exhausting. Surprisingly so, even during moments in which not much really seems to be happening. Fear and dread find a way to sap whatever energy you thought you might have. I can't imagine how parents coped before caffeine.
All of that might make it seem like being a parent is a joyless chore. Quite the contrary. Much like a great horror film, one finds oneself almost inexplicably finding the fear and dread to be the most enjoyable emotions possible. Only two things seem more pleasurable. The joy a parent shares with his/her partner when the toddlers do something completely silly, being the first. The second? I think this picture is all that is needed to explain the second extremely pleasurable part of being a parent.
There are also moments which combine fear/dread with completely silly activities. Jody and I recently encountered one of these. Our daughters History and Mystery (shown above) are wonderfully creative young girls. I have written before of how they have adapted Candy Land into a gingerbread man's journey to visit Hello Kitty and Boxie for some tea. They have also recently turned bath time into Water Bending practice. I'm sure that they'll be giving Korra a run for her money very soon.
Recently, History and Mystery decided that they wanted to develop superpowers like their brothers Superman and Iron Man. They decided that a key to acquiring superpowers was to suck on a penny. Doing so, they assured us much later after things went very awry, would give them stronger teeth and aid them in battling "sugar bugs." To advance their plan, they scrounged a penny and began alternating who was allowed to suck on it. First Mystery and then History, hand off, repeat. They did all of this while they were playing "quietly" in their room. Which should have given Jody and me suspicions that something was going horribly wrong, as quiet signals a rule #1 violation.
Parenting rule #1: If play time is actually quiet, then something is going horribly wrong.
In this case, the something wrong was History swallowing a penny. I think by the description of the twins' master plan to create an origin story, you probably guessed this is what happened. Needless to say, History's throat hurt. Jody commanded me to immediately go online to find which of the local hospitals was on our insurance plan, and began collecting as much information as possible regarding how History felt.
A trip to the hospital and three X-rays later, History acquired Wolverine-esque Copper and Zinc laced bones as the penny reacted with the X-ray machines photonic emanations...
Oh, wait. That's not what happened. The X-rays happened, all three of them, and they located the penny. It had already wandered down to her stomach, which meant a couple of days of waiting before we located the penny during one of History's potty breaks. She kept expecting to "pee" it out, but it came out in a more conventional manner -- which I won't attempt to describe.
Thankfully, nothing terrible happened. There was no permanent damage. But as Jody and I would rather not experience anything like this ever again, we had a long conversation with History and Mystery regarding not eating things that mommy and daddy don't say are okay to eat. The girls aren't Matter Eater Lasses, after all.
It's a joy raising highly imaginative twins, but it does make for quite a roller coaster. The film Parenthood was correct about parenting being a roller coaster, thankfully Jody and I were coaster junkies when we were younger.