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Published:April 24th, 2007 10:01 EST
Further Adventures of Thing One and Thing Two

Further Adventures of Thing One and Thing Two

By Syeda Abbas

It was the first hint of spring after a very hard winter. The Things naturally could not resist the soft balmy air, the cloudless sky, the thin golden sun.  The term Things is our family dysphemism for four-year-old identical twins boys Fazil and Saif, who personify the Things of Dr. Suess’s imagination. Nature has disguised their crafty brains in  cherubic appearance, huge coffee-brown eyes in oval faces, tiny chewing- pink mouths and perfect little noses. How else do you explain this statement, “I am making a lower case 3”. They are a glorious manifestation of Nature’s artisanship. Oh the things they have bumped. The things they have hit. Their elder brother Kamil has dubbed them Thing One and Thing Two for their tendencies for mass destruction.  

This day would turn out to be no different. Turned out absurdly in snow pants, thick-soled boots, thin Tees, armed with sticks from the undergrowth they ventured out in the yard.  Muddy was the yard, and the wet driveway of our neighbor their favorite haunt. Our neighbor, a middle-aged, friendly soul, cootchie- cooed over them in the summer and invariably thought their wide-eyed angelic appearance concealed an equally docile, benign temperament. The initial meeting with the Things almost always resulted in a similar lack of judgment. I had seen dour faced immigration officials at the John F Kennedy International Airport melt into winning smiles when they looked over them.  With her summery sentence, “I don’t mind if they play here,” echoing in memory and their father punching away on a laptop in the study that overlooked the front yard, it seemed like an entirely safe option.  

The Things usually vacillated acting out the saucy racecar Lightning McQueen, Thomas The Tank engine and Harry Potter. Today, it was going to be all three. Ten minutes passed, with shouts of incantation Expecto Patronus reverberating the air. They had taken their Thomas trains and lest they forget their true identity, they had fastened a small Thomas sheet on their shoulders as a cloak. Soon the stick became a  wand, the garage door the evil Dementors from Azkaban.  Fifteen minutes later, there was silence and the doorbell rang. The neighbor’s daughter stood politely inquiring if we knew anything about the mud slashed over and  above their garage door.  

I peeked over and stifled a gasp of horror. The stains were all over the sides right unto the siding. The culprits had run away leaving their tell- tale wands and Thomas trains behind. What would she say? She would not like it, to find us this way.  I gave the little girl a swift apology, with promises to clean the huge three car garage door. Shame overrode anger over the Things; how would we survive their preschool years?  I did not like it. Not one little bit. What would the other neighbors think? How would we get out of this mess? 

Meanwhile, the Things had run over to the adjoining neighbor’s yard. This neighbor had a custom- build; enchanting play set, a tiny puppy and two placid children who I had never heard speak or run. I had yet to hear their mom yell.  The Things knew I was terrified of dogs and would not willingly enter a canine zone.  They used this Machiavellian escape  tactic whenever I got angry or relaxed my vigil knowing I could not drag them out.  I stood on the brown withered grass of our yard, a helpless, desperate figure, at safe distance and yelled, “Come back here”. Thing One took a few, polite steps towards me and screamed back,

“ I can’t come, my bones won’t listen to me.” 

It was too dark to do anything when the Things finally came in. Maybe a propitious  thunderstorm would wash away the mud.  I had nightmares all that night; the neighbor would gossip, there would be visits to psychiatrist, the school counselor, the social services would hear about us. Nobody would invite us to birthday parties.  The twins would drop out of high school, enter a life of crime, get arrested … We would appear on national TV. Kamil dressed in his white lab coat, a doctor at last would appear with them on the Oprah show, He’d say “I still remember  when they ruined the neighbor’s garage door …” I would dab my eyes, a suitably, mournful figure in the background, my hair dressed expertly, a vivid  example of nutty parenting. The twins would squirm in their seats, their father an angry, hostile figure in the audience… 

Saturday morning 730 A.M; Operation Clean -Up began. The mud had dried over the garage door and hoping someone would mistake me as an enthusiastic but overly punctilious queer cleaning lady, I scrubbed away the sins of my sons. Washing detergent, sponge and one roll of Super Bounty paper towels (that’s right they do last longer than a regular roll) did the trick. 

The Things woke up and dressed in their pajamas, watched the proceedings from a window. Then dad or Abu as they called him came into action. He hectored them for making their poor mother clean out other people’s homes. Ten minutes into the monologue, the twins weren’t listening.  They looked sulky when I finally came in. Fazil refused to eat breakfast and Saif  lay on the carpet, face down, arms spread out ;his favorite position of starting a tantrum. The classic Saifi tantrum  began with five or six jumps with loud squeals of nooooo. For added drama he would lay down on the floor and twist sideways. The four-year-old Things discussed their predicament in pidgin with complete disregard to all rules of written and spoken English.   

Things One:  “I wish Abu would go to jail.”

Thing Two:  “I don’t want Abu to go to jail. I like him.”

Thing One: “ I want him to go to jail, I don’t like him.”

Thing Two (sensibly): “Saifi, if Abu goes to jail, who fix the flush?”

Their dad fixes their toilet when they  ‘accidentally’ throw in things. 

Thing One (excitedly): “Maybe he go to jail in a police car, Eaa Aaao, Eee, Aaan. Craaash  into a truck. Then an ambulance  come, Yaun Yaaon. It crashes into fire truck…”

Things Two (eyes gleaming): “Yes, yes. But what about his payshunts (patients)  What about the Grandpa in hopital ( hospital)?”

Their dad is a double - board certified physician. Saif once rounded at the hospital with his father and thought  an elderly patient was a grandpa.

Thing One (clearly disappointed): “Awww. Sometimes patients get all better.  Sometimes they don’t need doctors …”

Thing Two (philosophically): “Sometimes you go to jail, sometimes you don’t go to jail”

Thing One (curiously): “Fazil, you been to jail? I wish, I could go to jail.”

Thing Two (repeating like a scratched CD): “Sometimes you are sick, sometimes you are not sick. Sometimes you are good, sometimes you are not good, and sometimes you go to jail….”

Thing One: “Fazil, are there toys in jail?”

Thing Two was so absorbed in probing jail as a recreational area he did not see his father come in.

Abu: ”Don’t send me to jail. I am going to be scared.”

Thing Two (hugging him): “You be silly. You are not going to jail, you good boy.” 

The lesson was forgotten before I threw the dirt- crusted paper towels away. How would we survive their preschool years? Oh dear ! What would you do if your mother asked you?  Sometimes they were good, sometimes they were not good…