Can Two Sisters Control the Universe?

By Christopher Gabriel,

There was a time not so long ago when we were the parents that got a good chuckle over the wild stories we heard from other parents about their children.  The assaults on their sanity, the mass chaos that would commence without warning and the meltdowns in stores.  Good laughs, indeed, because surely that would never be a problem for us.  Nope, not our little angels. 

The time for soul-cleansing has arrived: I. Was. Wrong.

We have a split-level home here in Minneapolis. The bedrooms, kitchen, living and dining rooms are on the main floor and our office and laundry room are on the lower floor.  The other day I was sitting in the office doing some work when I stopped to listen in on my wife.  She was upstairs . . . let’s call it “engaged” . . . with our daughters on a variety of topics over a period of about 15 minutes.  Caleigh is nearly five years old and Cadence is 17 months.  I’ve discussed them before as Demando and Commando.  Now, I believe a new set of names are in order.  More on that in a moment. 

Some of what I heard upstairs was as follows:

  • Please put your sister down.
  • No, you cannot make the dishwasher your castle.
  • How did you get that pickle?
  • The goldfish do not want to be shaken.
  • Why is your bed full of water?
  • How did a banana get in the DVD player?

You might be asking why, when it seemed normal order was dissolving into chaos, I remained downstairs.  I don’t really have a good answer for that except to say listening in was about as entertaining as anything I’ve seen or heard in months.  Plus, if there really was a major problem, my wife has this uncanny ability to appear in front of me in the blink of an eye.  If I didn’t know better I’d say she built one of those Star Trek transporters, probably with the help of her father, allowing her to beam into the office, or wherever I’m at, the second she needs a break from our Twin Towers of Tumult. 

Her dad is one of those guys who can build anything.  I’ve begged him to build us a cone of silence that we can place the girls under so when their volume level hits 160 on a decibel meter we can smile, wave and gently tell them “hi girls . . . we love you too!.”  Or, at the very least, one of those limousine privacy windows.  There are times in the car I honestly believe my eyes are going to shoot out of my head because the girls are so loud.  The noise – it seems to travel into my ears, down a few canals, through a couple of passageways and then smashes directly off the backs of my eyes.

There isn’t a tea, a pill or a set of noise-reduction headphones that offer relief.  I’ve tried everything. 

But here’s the curious thing: I think the two of them hatch these little plots for their entertainment when we’re sleeping.  Which brings me to those new names: Scheme and Scream.

Besides being blessed with two very healthy little girls, they’re smart.  Really smart.  That they both are always several steps ahead of my wife and me is beyond cause for concern.  Caleigh got me so mad the other day, I told her “honey, if you do that again, I’m going to take that doctor’s kit away for good.”  Yes sir, I got her on that one.  The threat of permanent removal of a toy will always get them to stop.  Her response?  “Daddy, maybe you should give it to another little boy or girl anyway.  I have enough toys.”

What?  Who is feeding this child such nonsense?  What four-year-old says, in essence, “would you do me a favor and take away all of my stuffed animals, they’re really beginning to take up too much room in my bedroom and you know how much I hate clutter.”

And the other one, 17-month-old Cadence . . . where do I begin?  She has always been loud.  Very loud.  Field level of a Florida GatorsTennessee Volunteers football game loud.  Unfortunately, she suffered through a bout of Colic when she was little.  Of course she finally came through it, but she managed to retain her remarkable screamability.  Not “scream ability.”  Screamability.  The level she hits requires its own word.  The folks at the Metropolitan Opera House have absolutely nothing on her.

It seems Cadence has connected the dots, in a jet engine kind of way, that if she screams, she can get pretty much whatever she desires.  Oh sure, other parents are saying “just don’t give in.”  To them, I say you’ve never met Cadence.  Invariably, she lets loose in the most public of places bringing to a halt whatever is going on at that moment. 

The latest victim: The Mall of America.

While trying to buy a new pair of shoes for Caleigh, Cadence decided she was hungry/tired/bored or simply in need of a little attention and a good internal laugh at the expense of anyone within earshot – which, for Cadence, means anyone within 150 miles.  Without any warning, she went nuts.  And I would hasten to add whatever your idea of a child going nuts is, triple it.  And then triple it again. 

When she flipped the switch, all activity in our area of the mall came to a sudden stop.  People 30 yards away on the opposite concourse, across a pedestrian bridge no less, not only jerked their heads directly in our direction, they came marching over to see what happened.  Nothing happened.  Cadence happened.  It was Cadence being Cadence.

The young girl helping us, no more than 17 years old – I saw genuine fear in her eyes when she heard Cadence offer her award-winning meltdown.  Kids walking by began crying, a security guard was on his walkie-talkie . . . all this because a 17-month-old little girl, ahead of her time in manipulation prowess, decided to see if she could score a major coup: Bring the Mall of America to its knees.

She nearly did.

As the girls dropped off to sleep later that night, my wife and I discussed the very real possibility that Caleigh and Cadence do in fact plot these moments out.  And we’re just not quick enough to figure them out until their plan has already been executed. 

They never “attack” us singularly; it’s always a tag team effort.  Individually, they’re strong in their own creative ways.  Together, they have limitless power.  Power that we hope they’ll use for the good of mankind.

And unless I’m imagining it, when we walk or stroll by other parents with their toddlers and babies the kids seem to make eye contact with each other, do a little motion with their right hand, smile and mumble a few words in sync with the others.  Like some sort of secret communication.

I believe I’m onto something here:  We’re looking at a toddler/baby takeover.  It starts with the simple manipulations, then the more elaborate negotiations finally culminating with complete parental mind control through ear-splitting screams.

As we drove out of the Mall of America there was a car off to our right.  In the back, three children.  They appeared to be screaming and throwing french fries.  The parents in the front – terrified.  As we drove by, a window opened and I swear I saw one of the little girls mouth the words “Caleigh, Cadence . . . vector 7-5-8-3 . . . check 15 at 45.”

I have no idea what it meant, but it meant something.  Something chilling.  Caleigh continues to play dumb and Cadence isn’t saying a word about it.  Sure, she’s 17 months old and only speaks about six words but I’m on to her.  This whole learning-how-to-speak thing is a cover.  I’ll break her.

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Filed Under: ChildrenFamilyhumorLifeMinnesotaParentingThoughts


About the Author: Christopher Gabriel is the host of the cleverly named Christopher Gabriel Program on AM 970 WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota. You can hear him weekdays from 9 to Noon. As a writer and humorist, his work has been been published online by the Chicago Sun-Times, Reuters and publications within the Sun-Times News Group.

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