Yesterday’s CostCo run was the stuff of nightmares for a family with twins (or more). I’m always a little on edge when I bring our kids to the huge warehouse. I worry that they’ll run here or there, irritating other shoppers and running into something that results in a sobbing child. Most of our conversations seem to consist of my saying, “No, put that back.” “Stop teasing your sister.” “Because Mommy said so.” Over and over and over again. For some reason, my husband tends not to mind taking the girls to CostCo himself. So most times, he’ll go it alone. So when we all go together, I mellow somewhat knowing my husband is there.
It began with the usual climbing in and out of the cart. Demanding a ride in the front seat one moment and then whining to get out the next. For the most part, my husband and I have learned to ignore the irritating tones of voice while pulling each girl into and out of the cart. When we take them out, they typically explore a little around the cart but otherwise stick pretty close, fascinated by something within their line of sight. When we call them to come follow us to the next aisle, they’ll hurry to catch up.
We were in the cereal aisle, the last third section of the store. We saw that the girls had made their way around to the other previous aisle. “Come on L, K. Let’s go to the next aisle.” They were already halfway down the aisle. So, I thought they were going to get to the end of the aisle, turn the corner and come to us from the opposite direction. It’s what they’d been doing most of our trip. I waited. They didn’t appear. I started walking back to the beginning of the aisle. They were nowhere in sight. They ran off! Aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrgh! My husband followed me. We kept calling their names. We thought we heard their giggles. It wasn’t them. We both searched the middle section. We split up.
I walked through the first third of the store, looking down each aisle. Fear started to replace anger. If they’d gone out the front door…I hit the iPod aisle just a few aisles away from the store entrance. K appeared around the corner.
“Mommy!” laughed K. I grab her hand. Relief.
“Where’s your sister!” I demanded.
“She’s right there, Mommy,” she pointed behind her. Out runs L. I grab her hand. Anger replaced any traces of fear.
“Ouch, Mommy. You’re hurting me,” complains L as she giggles and tries to get away. I have both their hands in a vice-like grip.
“Never mind, L. Mommy is very angry with you for running away, “ I said sternly.
K squirmed out of my grip but otherwise stayed close. She giggled. “Pappa is very angry with you, too,” I said. K stopped giggling but still kept a little grin going.
I saw T in the distance. He was still looking around frantically. He finally caught my eye. He hurried over while I moved the girls into an aisle. I knew he was going to give them a very loud talking-to when he reached us. Times like this, I’m glad he speaks only Norwegian to the girls. His voice booms in such places. Both girls were completely cowed with their heads down. We put them in the cart.
As we approached the cashier, the girls started to play and tease each other. T threw his angry look at them and they stopped. After we loaded our groceries in the truck, T talked to L in the truck while I kept K in the grocery cart. When he finished, he talked to K while still in the cart and I got into the front of the truck. L was crying – thank goodness. While a small part of me started to melt, I kept my silence. They needed to know how serious this was. We had never lost track of them in a store before, especially in one so large with so many strangers. We were angry, then frightened, then really, really angry. They needed to know this was not a game and they can’t run off like they did. K was quiet on the ride home while L sobbed.
T told them there would be no treats, no snacks, no TV that night. They paid attention. They didn’t even ask. When it was time to go to bed, they went upstairs without complaint.
It’s never like this when they’re separated. Alone, they have noone to feed off of; no partner in crime. They stay close. They don’t wander. Together, they’re two sparks lighting each other’s penchant for mischief. Ugh! I guess this is what they call the joy of twins.