When the boys turned a year old, what surprised me was the suddenness of toddlerhood. One day they were babies, the next day they were toddlers with tantrums and opinions and getting into trouble. What has surprised me about the boys turning 18 months is the sudden and complete lack of cooperation. I knew 18-24 months was time of "independence" but I did not know this meant they would refuse to cooperate with everything.
After months of two immobile babies, it is impossible to describe the joy of saying, "Let's go upstairs and brush teeth!" and seeing two toddlers run to the stairs, climb them, run into the bathroom, climb onto their stools, and peek at themselves in the mirror while waiting for their teeth to be brushed. It was like the biggest birthday and Christmas present wrapped into one with the most ridiculous bow on top.
Now it is a completely different story, particularly when Jon travels. I say, "Let's go upstairs and brush teeth!" and Nate runs to grab a book. Alex refuses to leave his toy. I walk over to each of them, grab their hands and walk them to the stairs. I open the gate and they turn around, lift their arms and say, "UP!" I somehow manage to get them up the stairs through a combination of throwing toys up the stairs for them to chase and putting them on successively higher steps.
They run throughout the upstairs so I have to lock the upstairs gate and corral them into the bedroom to shut the door. They then run through the bedroom getting into everything (I've learned to never leave a bookmark in a book...) or run into the bathroom and climb into the tub. I used to try to say, "Let's brush teeth!" this entire time but they've stopped cooperating so I save my words.
Somehow I get their teeth brushed because they either decide to cooperate or I put them in a headlock. Then I have to corral them out of the bathroom, stopping Alex from flushing the toilet and stopping Nate from climbing onto his stool to grab anything and everything off the bathroom counter.
Once in the bedroom, I put one of them in the pack and play (PNP) while I change the other. The one who is getting their pajamas on is usually protesting by this point, so it's a WWE smackdown to get a diaper on. I've pretty much perfected pinning them down with one leg, leaving both hands free to change their diaper. Meanwhile, the one in the PNP is throwing things out onto both me and the other one. All it took was one book to the head for me to learn to keep the PNP filled with stuffed animals.
I swap them out, change the other one's clothes, and start saying, "Time for a BOOK! Do you want to READ?" so they will actually sit in one place while I grab some books. The books are never where they started before the boys trashed the room. I read them two books, tell them it's night night time, and here's the one place where they still cooperate.
They walk to the bedroom door, walk to their beds, and stand there waiting. I'm not sure what I'll do when this final piece of cooperation stops happening. When Jon travels, I always have grand plans of what I will accomplish after the boys go to bed. And then I always wonder why I feel so exhausted and have no energy to get much done. I think I'll have to refer back to this post, because this represents just 15 minutes of my night with their lack of cooperation.
I never thought I would be one of those parents dragging their kids around by the wrist to get them places. Again, my naive pre-baby self was hilariously ignorant, particularly about the logistics of twins. Some days, if I have any hope of getting things done, I've got to drag them around nicely and firmly by their wrists.
At the very least, I am getting quite a bit of exercise chasing them through the house to corral them. And I've stopped saying, "Let's go." quite as much.