From Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul

When It Rains, It Pours

Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.

Anthony Brandt

Lauren and Andrea were born thirteen months apart.

There were two of everything—youth beds, carseats, tricycles, near-naked Barbie dolls. And when it happened that four little knees scraped simultaneously on pavement, there was only one Mommy. Taking one by the hand and carrying the other, I brought the girls indoors to clean their bruises before applying ointment and cartoon Band-Aids.

“When will it go away, Mommy?” I heard as I dried their tears.

Channeling my own mother, I answered, “Don’t worry. It’ll go away by the time you get married.” I smiled and kissed their boo-boos, just as my own mom had said and done when I was small.

I dressed them in similar outfits, Lauren wearing her favorite color, pink, and Andrea in “pupple,” as she would say. And so it was on a warm, humid July morning that I helped the girls dress and combed their hair into short pigtails with obligatory pink and purple ribbons. Because rain was predicted, I planned a day of chores.

Toting laundry down and up the stairs, I checked on the girls between changing bed sheets and folding towels. Once when I peeked in, I saw Lauren, four, with a pair of plastic scissors; three-year-old Andrea held a blonde Barbie in place.

“Oh, girls, no! Don’t cut Barbie’s hair!” Lauren froze, mid-snip. I squeezed my awkward, eight-months-pregnant body onto one of their playroom chairs and took Barbie from Andrea’s hands.

“Girls, Barbie doesn’t grow hair like you andme. Our hair is always growing, so we need to have it cut sometimes,” I explained. “Barbie is a dolly. If you cut her hair, it won’t grow back.” I looked at each girl in turn. “And then her hair will be ugly for thewedding when she gets married to Ken.”

Mission accomplished.

Even at their tender ages, my girls knew that every bride is beautiful, and Barbie should not be denied. The girls glanced, almost apologetically, at their tuxedoed Ken dolls sitting stiffly against Barbie’s pink house. Lauren put the scissors down. Out came the coloring books and crayons, and I left them to play again.

Ten minutes later, I stepped back into the playroom and found Lauren, again, with scissors in her chubby little hand. And there was Andrea, looking like Rod Stewart on a great hair day—her wispy bangs now half-inch spikes. Beside her left ear, a chunk of chopped hair dangled. My daughter now had one sideburn.

Obviously, I had underestimated the precision of round-tipped toy scissors. Irritated, I collected all playroom scissors, scolding all the while. I then instructed my hairdresser-wannabees that they were never to cut anything but paper again.

Outside, the sky had darkened, and the house took on a dreary cast. It began to rain and thunder. “C’mon, let’s all take a nap together.” We climbed the stairs, shuffled through my bedroom doorway and settled in the big bed. They took turns feeling my belly move and picking out names for their mysterious sibling as I sang a quiet lullaby to all three of my children.

“Mommy!” Andrea called through my dream. “It’s wain-in’ in the titzen!” A soft touch brushed against my arm, and I opened my eyes. The girls stood alongside the bed.

“Wake up, Mommy. It’s wainin’ in the titzen.” Then, clearer, “It’s raining in the kitchen!” as Lauren, wide-eyed and smiling, echoed her sister.

As fast as possible, I waddled down the stairs. It was indeed “wainin’ in my titzen.” Pouring, in fact. A lone Barbie shoe floated by.

“How in the world . . .” I realized it was coming from above. Back up the stairs, in the bathroom, I found a running faucet and an overflowing, stoppered sink with two rubber duckies bobbing along its rim. Slip-sliding my big-bellied self across the waterway, I turned off the faucet and pointed sternly toward the girls’ bedroom.

They ran.

And I went to the phone to call their daddy home. “Bring a big mop and take-out for dinner. Now!”

That night, I tucked them in, turned on their nightlight and retired to my own bedroom when I overheard my girls talking.

“Lawen, I like the way you cut my haiw today,” said a sleepy voice.

With a squeal, Lauren replied, “You look silly, Andrea.”

“I know,” she admitted, “but it’s gonna gwow out by the time I get mawwied!”

Maria Monto

“Relax mom . . . it’s macaroni.”

Reprinted by permission of Randy Glasbergen. © 2000. www.glasbergen.com.

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