Apr 28, 2008

More than Triple the Trouble

As Nature intended, most siblings fight and rival with each other. Space isn't something easily shared between human beings. Not that other animal species always aggregate lovingly, except herd animals; but even herd animals can erode and degrade their habitats to death when contained in restricted spaces for too long with too many numbers. I mean, it's not exactly like us adults share a common bed without a good fight (or more of a good nagging in our house).

In a two-sibling household, each sib has only one bi-directional interaction (give and take) in terms of sibling dynamics. Older and younger siblings wrestle with, among a million other issues, hierarchy. Since one is older, the younger usually accepts his lower status willingly. Not that I'm saying a two non-twinned sibling unit is a sure thing to a breezy sort of family life.

Twins perhaps deal more with direct competition of everything in their worlds, from toys to milestones to womb space, and do so without clear roles or status delimited by age. In other words, they intersect on a more or less equal playing field. They enter and exit each life stage together so that one doesn't have the advantage of knowledge gained and knowledge bestowed to guide or conquer the younger sibling. So while people often speak of Twinship and a bond that borders on psychic ability energized by power from the moon and stars (especially between identicals, I would argue), this can come at a cost for more quiet natured and baby faced multiples. Bereket, for example, would make a great singleton. I fear his brothers overwhelm him at times when he needs more quiet loving from me or Jerry or a little solitude.

Now take higher order multiples, triplets for example. Somebody once told me that it's not just twins plus one, it's more like having 30 babies. Guffaw! And yet I have to admit, especially after a rare occasion when only two of my three are in my care, it's tough at times, at least during these toddler days. Although I still don't think it's as hard as people tell me it is. I still can't believe we have triplets, pretty cool. Anyway, triplets, let's see . . . each child has two bi-directional interactions that may be occurring at the same time which would be, technically, a multi-directional interaction, times 3 children . . . you get it. It's complicating and sometimes overwhelming for a baby/toddler. Maybe it's the same with three kids not of the same age or close in age, but then again, there's a little more complexity to it, I think, at least for the parents. For example, toddler hood has brought with it insecurity and clinginess. How can I help one child through it when all three demand my arms?

We are often asked, Who's oldest? Which makes me double take until I remember, oh, they mean who was born first. (Is this relevant? We don't know who was conceived first or who became a blastocyst first or who implanted first. . . although how does it work with identicals? Who came first--Sira or Bereket--before the embryo split?). I just tell them I don't know, because I don't want people to present them with artificial roles. I'll tell the boys someday, it's a great piece of birth history, but I will not emphasize rank. I don't want to hear brother A telling Brother C, I'm older than you, I was born first, I get the bigger piece. I'll give you a hint though, if you were to take a guess at so-called birth order (and if you sort of know my kids by now), you'd probably guess right.

Most of the time life in Tripletland is high. After dinner is usually the best. The boys play together nice and rowdy. My fragile soul easily crushes, however, when anyone of my boys is not happy. I just want them to be happy all the time. I want them to grow up and regard each brother as their friend. A United Front. One Love. A mother can dream . . .

Now for the lows. Hair pulling, biting, tugging. All it's glory caught on the video below. Mr Bear-uh-keh-tuh (as we like to call him complete with exaggerated accent and tongue roll) may be small, but he's tough, even against Tsega-Mega. Oh, and Sira decided to dive in just for kicks; the fight had nothing to do with him. Do your little wee ones fight like this or am I just the worst mother you know??? Oh, about song choice on the video, these are the lyrics that play in my head during such trying times. It's a good thing I have a great sense of humor. :) Now I just need to work on my disciplining. . . One Love boys, One Love, just like it is written on Bereket's shirt.

One Love! One Heart!
Let's get together and feel all right.
Hear the children cryin' (One Love!);
Hear the children cryin' (One Heart!),
Sayin': give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right;
Sayin': let's get together and feel all right. Wo wo-wo wo-wo!
-Bob Marley

Apr 25, 2008

There's no Place like Home

Even if it is Kansas. This is indeed Somewhere Over the Rainbow where blue birds fly and babies cry. Come ride the choo choo wagon with us on a beautiful spring day (I know, again with the wagon pictures), we can always add more cars . . .

Outside, Outside, ohhh, how we love Outside.

Apr 21, 2008

Annoying Comments: Updated

As triplets grow, the triplet-related comments and public scrutiny gradually fades. Our family's celebrity status is waning and fewer people feel free to approach us, ask questions, stop us, or comment. The Great Plains culture can be one of silence and indifference when it comes to socializing with strangers. And incidentally, I find we get the least attention in major cities. Click HERE for my original Annoying Comments post. Don't misinterpret, I'm not trying to be negative; on the contrary, the boys have received bands of gushing stares, loving smiles, and wells of adoration from little kids, moms and grandparents, to old and young men (for some reason I find it interesting that men of all types stop to gush at triplet babies). We've had passersby in cars yell out, I love your babies!, people stop their cars in parking lots to ask about them, circles of strangers gawking in stores. Hey, I don't blame, I'd wonder and sneak peeks and might say something annoying too if I saw my family coming. (I often have this fantasy of coming around a corner with my family and meeting head-on another family strolling their triplets; it could've happened one day when we were at a shopping plaza in Wichita and a group of fans told us that within the very same plaza, at a lunch place just minutes ago, there was a family with 2 year old triplet girls.) Yet it feels good to go out a little more incognito and less zooish.

We've had our share of great comments, indifferent comments, annoying comments and a few bad comments; although often what's meant to be "good" translates into the bad comment at my end (in other words, it's not like we've had any downright nasty comments). Like the "Glad it's you and not me" one; they probably thought it was funny, I thought it kind of sucked. Once my mother-in-law, who was out with Jerry and the triplets, had a lady ask her if their mother (Me) took fertility drugs. Poor woman, she's a private lady (classic Great Plains blood) and didn't know what to do other than hang her mouth open. I told her she should have said yes, I took fertility drugs, but they didn't work. At least this is one comment I usually don't hear; you triplet mamas out there who match your children in color--I can only guess you must hear this intrusive question ALL the time. Another time Jerry was in front of me with two in the double stroller and I was trailing behind with one in the single. I watched him pass a black man walking with a white man and the black man looks at his friend, Did you see that white guy with those black babies?! Pretty amusing for me to eavesdrop and then pass these two men with one more.

I can think of a few reasons why the public hoopla is easing up. First of all, the boys are older (they turn two in late June, yikes!). Strangers feel less comfortable and less compelled to ohhh and ahhh over cognisant little people vs babies. Toddlers are often shy and wide-eyed stares without smiles or other inviting body language causes people to back up. Toddlers are often not as cute as babies. Babies are adorable, toddlers are too, but they lose the chubby cherubness that biologically drives people to smile, tickle, and coo at them (OK, maybe my boys are an exception, they are still baby-gorgeous, har har). Also, it's not as clear that my boys are triplets anymore. Tsega is many inches taller and looks older than Bereket & Sira. It's more confusing now: is Tsega an older brother, are these twins, what the heck? Confused people don't like to comment. Not to mention we have longed ditched the Dr Suess triplet stroller so without a line-up of all three (nowadays one is here, two are there), we escape notice more easily. Finally, when we hit the public, I go about my business like nothing unusual; like we are just an ordinary family who blends unnoticed and doesn't make much eye contact because we are too uninteresting to meet eyes with anybody (yeah, right!).

Let me stop here and say it's OK to gush over my children, I think they are worth the attention. If you happen to meet me, please introduce yourself. But it used to embarrass me a little and I had to gather a little courage to meet the public being so high-profiled. I can't even wear red clothes or a dress in public because I find it too eye-catching and embarrassing (not to mention I can't pull either off too well!). At the same time, I hate being ignored and so boring that I can't get anybody's attention (that's me, never happy in the middle).

Anyway, drum roll please, the top eleven Annoying Comments list of spring 2008 (I use annoying loosely here, most of these are more repetitive and common rather than annoying, which makes them annoying, right!?):
1. You got your hands full! (Still everybody's favorite, number #1 comment, can't go very far without getting one of these. I almost feel sorry for the deliverer of this comment because he or she always laughs afterward for being so funny. Rest assured, I am always pleasant back and laugh along with them as I chuckle out, We sure do!)
2. Hmmmmm, now those two look alike. Are they twins?
3. This one has a lot of hair.
4. He's bigger.
5. This one's the flirt. (Yes, they are all referring to Tsega in #3,4, & 5)
6. God Bless You!!
7. You don't work! There's no way! (Yes I do! I knocked off to 30 hours a week after I went back. It's easier than staying at home, although I hate leaving them.)
8. I can't even imagine. Tsk Tsk Tsk (head shaking).
9. Do you have help? You do have help, don't you? You must be exhausted! (The You meaning Me . . .Uh, Jerry's standing right there, he probably works harder at home than me.)
10. And I thought twins were bad enough. (OK, so this one is not so common, but doesn't it sound nasty? Oh, and the lady who said it recently followed with, I'd only want twins of they were boy/girl so I could tell them apart. Huh? What? And did you see the big one here with all the hair? You can't tell him apart from these two?)
11. Look at those two checking me out with those big eyes, they're thinking I must be crazy. (He he, that'd be Bererket and Sira; and no, I don't think they would think that about you; they just look like they do.)

OK, so not so bad. At least we haven't heard the Glad it's You and Not Me in a long time. And it's a wonder, but we actually seldom get asked if they are adopted or any other adoption-related questions (except for the Where are They From? one).

Apr 14, 2008

Did you see that?

Whatever it was they saw, they agreed it was good. My dad (a.k.a. Poppie to his grandchildren) and an early version of Tsega . . .

And just to be fair, an earlier version of Me and Bereket.

And who can resist a very baby Sira?

Or a very baby anything, for that matter . . .

Well, maybe they are toddlers now and not so much baby anymore after looking at these photos? I guess when you catch yourself saying, I don't think I like them anymore, then we're past baby and hitting, for real, those terribly tough twos, which, in triplet-time, begin at about 14 months old. I kid! (Or do I???)

Take my binkie, please

Strange and funny moments in Tripletland . . .

So, the other day Jerry had a baby in his lap. Which one? Sira, most likely. And yes, I still call them The Babies. Diapers, binkies, wiggles, goo-goo, shuffling zombie waddles--that's all baby. Anyway, I came over to give the baby a binkie and I tried to insert the smelly thing into Jerry's mouth. Now we've both done this before, either in jest or momentary confusion, but this time not only did I try shoving it into his mouth, but I kept trying even after he turned his head and flapped his arms at me. I really thought for more than just a moment that I was trying to get Jerry to latch on and couldn't figure out why he wouldn't. What a weird feeling when I finally figured out my mistake . . .

Then last night. Tsega decided he would either scream in his crib or sleep with Jerry and me. So he slept with Jerry and me. I woke up about 2 o'clock in the morning and baby T was sitting up in bed next to me, pressing his index fingers together, and humming (did I mention it was 2 a.m.?). Itsy-Bitsy Spider. He can't quite hold a tune yet, but I know what the hum with the finger motions mean. Itsy-Bitsy Spider?! Now? Go to sleep! At least he wasn't doing his American Idol bringing-it-home high pitch screech, for which he is famous.

Apr 4, 2008

Da Da

Dada as in dad, not as in Dadaism, the art, or rather the anti-art movement. Although hearing it uttered so sweetly from my boys reminds me of an essay I wrote a million moons ago in modern art history class back in my early college days: One day men will suddenly look up with startled eyes from their couches, from behind their newspapers, and whisper "da da". Or something funny like that, I don't remember.

Our main man here--Dada--is a smarty, cooks, builds, fixes, and cracks me up. He's always a hair's breadth away from me at work and I follow him around like a puppy dog at home. I tell people, Jerry and I like to do our own thing--together. The energy, the fire, the beard--I'll take it all. He sprints around like a man on a mission and talks way too loud, often from a soap box. I can really dish out the scary wife routine, but this little man can take it. He changes diapers, reads stories, gets up in the middle of the night, and does everything a mother would do for our boys. That's one interesting aspect of adoption, incidentally: because of the absence of a pregnancy, birth, and usually breast-feeding on the part of the adoptive mother, both mom and dad are potentially equals in terms of the parent-child bond from day 1. Jerry, who shall remain faceless & silent for most of this blog, we love you.

Here comes dada! Please, excuse my irritating shrill throughout this video (and all the cliches in above paragraph!).

Wash Me



Dirt eating season is upon us again. Sun and warmth, not quite, please come soon because Tsega, my nature boy, can't take it anymore (and neither can we!).

Apr 2, 2008

Manly Men

Or not?

Seems many strangers out there think Tsega is a girl!

Two boys and a girl? we get asked all the time. But I always forget to ask which one they identified as female until recently when some old men and little girls referred to Tsega as She. Must be all those cute curls. Or maybe I need to rethink my styling senses? Or maybe I really wanted girls (pink binkies and heart-shaped sun glasses . . . hmmmm . . .)? Nah, it's the curls.

This reminds me, I have to confess a little. While I was truly open to gender when we were waiting for our referral, for a split--and I mean split--second, I was a little disappointed when I asked the gender of the children (it seemed like time stood still for awhile on the triplet part). ALL BOYS!!! Couldn't there have been one girl? Well, the second passed before I was off the phone, or maybe it was that night. Certainly nothing to be disappointed by in the face of such amazing news and I decided on the spot that I would celebrate the ALL BOYS part. Then a lady says to me the other day, too bad there wasn't at least one girl among your triplets--then you'd have the perfect family. Dumb lady! Offended, to say the least. How does gender make families perfect anyway? Is symmetry a key to happiness? Yet I bet you many people have thought the same thing (just keep it in your head). BTW, part of me thinks the reason so many families request girls when adopting is because "everybody's doing it". Not that there's anything wrong with desiring a daughter and I suppose Jerry and I would like one someday--maybe.

Logistically, having same-gender triplets is easier. They can always share the same room, toys and clothes; it's easier to speak and write about them (The Boys, My Sons); and presumably they will share similar interests instead of dividing along girly and boyish lines. Yet I wonder, for those of you with same-sex multiples, how do you distinguish their undies (not that undies are in our near future!)?

Like I've blogged before, little boys enjoy dress up, new shoes, hugs and kisses (finally my boys not only hug, but have started kissing each other), all the same things little girls like. I don't deny DNA (and I believe it's a mistake for adoptive families to poo-poo genetics for the sake of familial unity with their adopted children) and typical boy traits, but socially enforced gender lines irritate me, especially at this young age. The other night we were dining out in the Big City (Kansas City, that is) and a lady this time thought Bereket was the girl. So I asked her why she thought this; not that it bothered me since it did not, I was just curious. She apologized (no need to be sorry!) and said it must have been the pink binkie. I told her we don't mind gender-bending a little. :) We've also been told that our boys are pretty like girls. I guess so!

Look at pretty little Bereket hiding from the big fish at the mall aquarium. He never cries when he's scared of something he sees (like cows, monkeys, and fish), he just silently hides his eyes because boys don't cry. Oh, wait, but aren't they fearless too?

But, another confession here, I have many early memories of being mistaken for a boy and it shook my soul. I hated it. I was painfully sensitive and this did not help. So my mom took me to get my ears pierced. I was a tom-boy but wanted to look like a girl, only no dresses. I still can't wear a high heeled pair of shoes; it's like my feet through magnetic force repel them. Or it's like wearing a chicken suit out in public. It's embarrassing and it's just . . . not . . . me.

This certainly will not win me Mother of the Year, but in line with this post's theme, here (click HERE) is a You Tube snippet of my boys' favorite show, or rather there favorite show tune; they always stop, turn, smile, and sing meh, meh, meh whenever this comes on. Sent to me courtesy of my mom (hi mom!) because, as she well knows from her loooong visit last week (just kidding Grandma C!), the boys love it. Manly Men indeed (or are they?), pretty ones too.

Disclaimer: no, we don't regularly sit the boys down to watch TV, but sometimes parents get tired; and no, this is not my favorite show. :)