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It's 1:38 a.m. I've just put nine-month-old Kinneret back in her bed for the third time and her twin Yaron for the second, when another presence makes himself know from his corner of the room with a lusty, "WAAAAAAAAA!"
Two-and-a-half-year-old Ya'ir is ready to join in the fun.
Since all three are in the same room, a wailing Ya'ir is soon joined by his reawakened siblings - a jolting version of an all-treble Carmina Burana.
My husband stumbles into the fray and we perform our nightly exorcism. "Be gone demon child," we cry, "leave this innocent child and return, you and your hounds of hell, to the nether lands."
Somehow, this makes Ya'ir cry even harder.
We revert to Plan B: my husband sings Hebrew lullabies while holding one banshee as I nurse the other in the adjoining living room. Soon one is down for the count; I hope and pray that Ya'ir too will return to the land of nod so I can take on the last contender.
My husband, now hoarse, sings the last verse of Ya'ir's favorite, "Ken la'tzipor," one baby is deposited back in bed and he hands off the final challenger and gets me a glass of water. Just another typical night in the Dan household.
As I attempt to steer the mother ship (the twin's massive double stroller) on the "sidewalks" of Jerusalem, passersby often stop to comment on our unique family situation. "Oh, twins, it must be so hard," and they cluck their tongues and look sympathetic.
But when Ya'ir and my husband catch up from an impromptu mini-lecture about the various flora and fauna in their path, the sympathy turns to disbelief. "What? Three, so close together! It's like you have triplets!"
Israelis can be so subtle.
Watching Ya'ir and the twins interact makes everything worthwhile. He kisses and hugs them (sometimes a little too boisterously) and has related to them as his since his first visit to the hospital. A real delight.
The challenge, as I see it, in having three so close together is their simultaneous identical needs.
Wiser, much more experienced parents tell me that even at this age, it is important to make some time every day for each individual child. For the twins, nursing is our primary one-on-one time, but now that they are able to play more interactively, I try to introduce new games and books a little at a time. Placing each new object in their mouths, they seem to have a real hunger for learning.
With Ya'ir, our main outing is going to the supermarket as a twosome, discussing each item as he throws it behind him in the shopping cart. With his father, he has discovered the great outdoors and delights in finding feathers and snail shells every few paces.
Reflecting upon my childhood, I fondly remember ordinary trips to the hardware store with my dad and shopping for clothes with my mom. This was our special time, something that I hope to eventually cultivate with my kids as well.
But for now, I spend most of my family time just keeping the babies at bay.
On any given weekday afternoon, after coming home from work, storing the day's milk in the fridge and nursing the babies, I sit down on the floor as they play quietly beside me. Realizing that I'm now in their domain, both twins crawl towards me: Yaron, soldiering on, propelling his pudgy self forward belly-down on his strong arms, whereas Miss Kinneret daintily makes her way on all fours. Kinneret reaches first and I place her on my lap.
Yaron, alarmed and slightly jealous, starts reaching out to me, moaning. (I am reminded of the beggars we encountered in India as he starts pulling at my clothing and trying to climb on as well.) Kinneret, intent on keeping her hard-won attention, counter-moans and pulls at my hair and tries to grab at my glasses.
Ya'ir, not to be outdone, sees an unattended flank and climbs on my back, his arms wrapped around my neck.
It's my life as a 1950s grade-B horror film: Attack of the Killer Babies!
The writer is an overtired, underslept mother of three-in-diapers. email@example.com