'Babies! Two babies!" I said, holding both of my hands out cutely like Ima had taught me, pointing to Ima's ever-growing belly.
Although I knew what a baby was - a noisy little creature that other people had which is characterized by a distinct "wah, wah, wah" sound - I didn't quite know what "two" was. I found that out when my pal Abba and I went to go see Ima in the hospital. She was finally having that huge bump looked at, Abba said.
It had been a long time since I'd seen Ima and she did seem a little different. First of all, the bump was a little smaller. Secondly, when she got up to say hello, she was moving very, very slowly and wouldn't pick me up.
Then she said, "Would you like to meet your new sister and brother?"
Though I was perfectly happy climbing and crawling over everything and playing with this huge pink curtain that blocked my view of what was happening on the other side of the room, I saw that she really wanted me to say okay, so I did.
I looked up and there was a teeny tiny baby inside a little, little bed. Ima said, "That's your sister."
Hmmmm. All very nice, but what's this sister thing got to do with me, I thought?
I looked over at Abba and he was standing by another of these little beds. He pointed inside and said, "That's your brother." This itsy bitsy face that was all eyes looked back at me. Blink, blink.
"Ya'iri is a big brother," said Ima, dropping the bomb. "Ya'iri is Ima's big boy now and here are the two babies that were in Ima's belly."
Right there and then I decided that I had to keep an eye on these two babies.
After a week of Ima and Abba calling them the "girl baby" and the "boy baby," they decided to change their names. They had a small party at Savta's and we ate nice cakes, stuffed grape leaves, more cake, ice cream, more cake (I like cake) and started to call the babies Kinneret and Yaron.
I gave them my own names, "'Neret" and "'Aron."
When they first came home, I noticed that they only get to eat what Ima calls "booby juice." She said I used to eat it too when I was a baby. So one day I decided to take a bite.
Ima yelled really loudly and jumped up and told me never ever to do that again. I started crying. Later she hugged me and said that the babies aren't biting, but kissing out the booby juice. I don't like kissing, so it's not really for me. Ima said that's good, 'cause I'm lucky that I can eat so many different things; the babies only get booby juice. Poor babies.
Every day when I come home from daycare, Ima seems really happy to see me. She tries to put down a baby and come play with me, and sometimes we get to read books together before bedtime. But double trouble sure takes up a lot of her time.
I try to play with 'Neret and 'Aron but Ima and Abba have this thing about me touching them.
"Not on the head," says Ima.
"Only on the belly," says Abba.
"Did you wash your hands?" they both ask.
So I try to give them their pacifiers (who doesn't like a good pacifier?), but for some reason the babies start crying when I try to put them in their mouths. Ima says to leave them alone, they're too little.
The babies aren't very fun.
Good thing Abba still wants to play with me and give me my bath and sing me to sleep. He's almost as good as my favorite movie character, Mary Poppins.
The world according to double trouble
Kinneret: My job is to wake everyone up. From our week in the baby nursery at the hospital, I learned how to cry so piercingly that people next door could even wake up with Ima. If Yaron somehow happens to wake up before me, my next challenge is to work on Abba so he'll take me to Ima in the living room to eat. Sure, it takes a while, but I always prevail.
Yaron: I'm the one who tries to keep Ima company throughout the night. I figure that if she's already up, I might as well make it worth her while. Sometimes I have to take drastic measures and make a big kaki right after she's changed me or spit up all over both of us, but I can tell that deep down she's happy for these diversions. What else would she do before the light part of the day starts again?
K: And then, just as she's getting into her big lonely bed (Abba's already gone to work for the day), I remind her that we girls have to stick together and have some bonding time.
Y: I'm so active at night that I conserve my strength during the day and sleep most of the time.
K: I don't want Ima to get lonely before Yaya gets home, so I try really hard to stay awake. Girl power!
Y: When Yaya gets home, it gets a little more challenging. He can already talk, so Ima tends to try to have a conversation with him. I decided that I would give her until six in the evening, when Ima is trying to sit down to eat with Ya'ir and Abba. Then I have stomach pains so she'll pay attention to me again.
K: It's hard for me to stay awake once it starts getting dark, so I let Yaron take over for a while until it's time for me to get Ima out of bed. If I'm really successful, I time my siren-like wail for just after she gets into bed. No need for her to get too comfortable, right?
Y: The dark part of the day is just ours. Me, Kinneret and Ima, spending quality time in Ima's big rocking chair, just the three of us. I can't wait till tonight!
The writer is an unlicensed mother of three.