It often feels like my kids are in a rush to grow up. As a result, I often forget that they’re just kids.

Tayler speaks very eloquently. She has very effective communication skills, and she can use this to great advantage when trying to get out of trouble. She’s also very good at sticking up for herself. She has a terrific memory, and is extremely compassionate. Her sense of humor is well developed, but sufficiently different from mine that we don’t always enjoy the same kinds of jokes. She often gets agitated when I tease her.

Tyler is on the warpath for independence. She wants nothing more than to spend time in her room, alone, with the door closed. She emails her boyfriend, plays games on her computer, or paints her nails. She’s quite content to spend an entire evening in her room, and only comes out – grudgingly – for dinner. Tyler has a very sophisticated sense of humor, and loves to tease people. She’s been extremely short-tempered lately, which has me worried that the long dark years of puberty are quickly approaching.

I once took the day off today to spend with the girls, since they were home from school. We had a pleasant enough morning, with no real conflict until just about lunch time. This was somewhat remarkable, as the girls are usually at one another’s throats before they even finish the morning’s cereal. After lunch, I took the girls swimming. They love to swim; and would swim all day long if permitted. I don’t have the stamina, so it’s usually a few hours worth of pool time before we pack up and head home.

The twins are different people entirely in the water. Both of them magically transform from articulate young ladies into silly little girls, and I’m reminded anew of how little – and how precious – they each are. Tyler loves to wriggle and splash and tickle. She often gets more than a little out of hand, and I end up with water in my eyes (if I’m lucky), bruises and scratches, or an unintentional kick in the groin. Tayler used to be deathly afraid of swimming in water deeper than her hips; but now she loves to swim all over the pool.

The game we played at the pool that day involved me holding my breath and floating, face down, until the kids came within arm’s length. Then I’d grab them and tickle them. That this would amuse them for more than a single iteration is amazing to me: if we did something similar out of the water they’d get bored within seconds. But in the pool, they each kept coming back over to me, knowing full well that I’d tickle them given the chance. After this, I tried my best to sneak up on Tayler to tickle her when she wasn’t expecting it. Each time she shrieked loudly, and I had to really work to stifle the laugh that came over me. Were I to tickle her at home more than once, she would snap “Stop it dad!” in a commanding voice.

Once, long before we were married, I babysat the twins while Carina did something. I recorded the twins singing songs and making jokes, and then got them to repeat a few funny phrases. I then used these as interstitials on a mix CD I prepared for Carina. She found that CD yesterday, and played the twins’ tracks for them as we drove home. Included were such gems as Tayler saying “Mommy, you’re the bees knees”, Tyler telling her favorite joke at the time (“Why did the chicken cross the road? Because BOK BOK BOK!” – this simple joke could keep Tyler laughing out loud all day!), and both of them singing “Where is Thumbkin” (which came out “Where is Pumpkin?” followed by a lot of indistinct mumbling as they tried to remember the words).

After the kids went to bed, Carina and I stayed up listening to WAV files she had recorded from when the kids were little. It was a real treat to hear their cute little voices, and to be reminded of just how much they’ve grown up since then. It was also amazing to hear the kids saying way back then the same things they still say and do today: Tyler teased Tayler and laughed mischievously about it, while Tayler repeated “Stop!” again and again.

Carina and I both vowed to begin recording more of the kids, so that we can look back in another ten years and be reminded of how precious the twins were at this age, too.

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