The boys clamour up the stairs trying to overtake each other on the bend. They reach the stairgate opening at the same time. For a few seconds they’re wedged together in the narrow gap – a mass of flailing arms and legs – then they topple forward and fall in a heap on the landing. After a moment to untangle their limbs they’re on their feet running to the bathroom. Splosh. Anything within reach is thrown in the bath to a chorus of giggles. Pyjamas (laid out all ready), a new nappy and every bottle on the bathroom shelf are now all floating beside the rubber ducks and stacking cups. That’ll teach me to lag 30 seconds behind.
I heave t-shirts over heads and whip off shorts and nappies. It’s not easy as the boys are bouncing from one foot to the other in excitement.
I dunk them both in the water. T2 stands rigid, all traces of excitement gone. T1 runs around the tub backwards and forwards, making himself dizzy. When he gets bored he tries to climb the window ledge that runs along the side of the bath. He lifts himself so high and then slides back and lands with a plop into the water below. After a scramble to get his head above the surface he smiles and starts dunking his face in, taking big gulps. He blinks the liquid out of his eyes in a moment of terror and then plunges his head under again.
T2 looks at his brother in horror. He hugs his soaking body against mine and tries to pull himself out of the water. He moans a tune.
When it’s time to wash their hair, T1 allows a bucket full of water to be chucked over his head and after violent shake, like a dog drying his coat, is as good as new. T2 can’t bear a trickle of water on his head and screams at every cupful that is poured.
How is it possible for twins to be so different?
When it’s time to get out, T1 screams. He’s having too much fun and tries to scramble out of my reach using his brother as a shield. He’s quick but I’m quicker. The howls echo down the street.
In seconds he’s dry and wearing a nappy, then it’s his brother’s turn. T2 has wanted to get out from the moment he got in, but now he wants to stay. He screams as I lift him and cocoon him in a warm towel. T1 is silent now as he tries to lift the toilet lid. I have to be quick before he starts posting things in there. I dry T2 and put on his nappy, then he’s up and joining his brother trying to pull the flush and grabbing the end of the toilet roll like an Andrex puppy.
The bath-time dance is over. I’m soaked but they smell like babies should- sweet and clean and edible. The evening has moved on to the next stage and all I can hear is a chant of “milk milk” over and over.
Maybe they aren’t so different after all.