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As I tried to maintain eye contact with both of my babes, the father shouted at me and finished off his tirade with 'Shame on you! And you call yourself a mother!'
I was simply doing what all mothers of young children do - taking my then 13-month-old twins to a play date. Ya'ir, my three-year old, was getting special one-on-one time with his devoted Israeli Savta and Abba was at work. It was, I thought, a brilliant way to entertain the stir-crazy duo and have a nice chat at the same time.
I picked the pair up from day care and we bisected the city, sitting through strangely heavy Wednesday afternoon Jerusalem traffic. Sunlight was a scarce commodity then and so after an initial greeting at my friend's Talpiot home, we hit the local playground.
Teeming with children on this warmer-than-usual late-winter afternoon, the playground was a wonder world to the twins: uncharted territory, a new place to divide and conquer.
I took one look and knew that it would be "a little problematic" to control the kids in the wide open chaos. Little did I know that during the unexpectedly quiet car ride Kinneret and Yaron had schemed and plotted my likely collapse. (That's what I get for not bringing a snack.)
My friend and I released our charges from their nicely binding strollers and - like a shot - each newly walking twin was off in an entirely different direction. Yaron decided to climb the low rocky wall, while Kinneret made camp at the bottom of a steep slide. Trying to keep both in view and not let my daughter be flattened, I placed my leg above her head, essentially with the hope that any slider would hit me instead.
And bam! A father taking down his darling daughter on his knees knocked me to mine. As I tried to maintain eye contact with both of my babes, he shouted at me and finished off his tirade with, "Shame on you! And you call yourself a mother!"
I'm sure he would have added more invectives, but I was off running to save Yaron from certain death (again) - and where exactly had Kinneret gotten to now?!
My friend, oblivious to my plight was chatting with her neighborhood pals while calmly tending to her own feisty son.
I eventually collected my two rambunctious kids and lugged them over to her. Sweaty and near tears, a twin under each arm, I told her that I had to go.
"But we just got here!" was her stunned reply. Indeed, less than five minutes had elapsed.
We moved to greener, broader and less populated pastures and ended the visit on a high note.
THOUGH I AM ashamed to admit it, it took me about a year after the twins were born to feel comfortable taking care of all three of my luscious children on my own (basically until the twins stopped nursing). My husband's work suffered, my wonderful mother-in-law often entertained Ya'ir (he adores her) and the occasional cousin also helped out.
But as they matured, suddenly things became more manageable at home, and while bath time is still pretty tricky alone, life's daily routine is feasible. With the coming fine weather, it was time to take the band on the road.
The twins are now 19 months and even more daring and active. Add to the mix my "big boy" Ya'ir (finally potty trained!), and you have a potentially dangerous recipe for impending disaster.
I scout out each joint before setting up camp, looking for suitable places. Best are large, deserted yet well-kept grassy lawns (like the Givat Ram campus on weekends). Second best are enclosed spaces with few blinds.
Our favorite weekday hangout is a little playground next to a new strip mall across the street from Ya'ir's day care. Fenced in with a spongy floor and one central climbing unit plus an unattached low slide, the place is practically perfect (if you overlook the rancid smell coming from the garbage bins on the other side of the wall).
Earlier this week I picked up the crew and we played for more than an hour. They climbed and explored and I made a point of counting them every so often. Luckily Ya'ir is pretty self-sufficient and he quickly hit it off with twin boys his age.
Since the place is rather small, I quickly got to know who's who. The brotherhood of parents often comes to the rescue when two of my tribe get into trouble at the same time. (Blessings on the mother who saved that particular afternoon and gave unprepared me a diaper and wet wipes.)
For a snack we moseyed down the courtyard to get four servings of soft-serve vanilla ice cream for a mere NIS 10. I seated the twins in high chairs and the four of us sat around the still-clean round table. A chortling Yaron wolfed his down with visible delight, smearing a good slathering on himself and the table. Kinneret, much more dainty and sober by nature, took the napkins and wiped up each of her minuscule spills. Ya'ir slowly, slowly consumed each and every bite, entranced by the unexpected pleasure.
Balloons in hand we walked back to our waiting chariot and drove home, ready to face the next challenge: getting all three of them into our fifth-floor apartment with an elevator too small for a double stroller.
The writer is the mother of twin toddlers and a three-year-old. Any advice is appreciated.