A Day in the Park

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

"I have to go to the bathroom."

It was a park day and, for once, the twins' parents had allowed me to babysit.

It's not a trust or comfort issue. I held the boys the day they came home from the hospital, five and a half years ago. I've hosted family-wide slumber parties. And Sarah and Ryan continually let me write about their boys. That's trust.

Instead, the reluctance to have me babysit has to do with the fact that they feel guilty asking someone else to take care of the boys. They don't realize, I suspect, that spending time with their kids brings me joy, no matter how long and loud Connor can scream about snacks, or how many times Evan repeats himself when reporting that his brother didn't wash his hands for long enough. As parents, they live with a level of stress that normally eludes me, the part-time aunt.

Until, that is, about half an hour into my first solo trip to the park with the boys, when Evan announced he had some business to do. "Do you have to pee or poop?" I asked, for clarification.

"A little bit of both," he squirmed. And, of course, there weren't restrooms around.


Park games aren't just for kids. There's the "Don't Lose Sight of the Boys" game, which is especially difficult when they're running in different directions and playing "Hide and Go Seek." There's the "Make Sure They Don't Get Hit in the Head by the Tire Swing" game and its sequel, "When They're Hit in the Head by the Tire Swing, Distinguish Between 'Hurt' and 'Startled.'" (Note: It's usually "startled.") And then there's "Take Two Boys from the Park for Evan's Potty Emergency." This game was not to Connor's liking.

Evan spent the walk home announcing his intentions: Go to the bathroom and lock the door. I spent the time hoping I wouldn't have to clean up "a little bit of both," while also wondering if the bathroom door actually locked. (It didn't.) Connor spent the walk home planning to antagonize his brother, which was apparent as soon as I opened the front door and he raced for the restroom.

Evan's scream was louder than the one that comes from getting surprised by a tire swing. It was during his breakdown that I was forced to deliver - with authority - life's 11th Commandment to Connor: "When someone says they have to go to the bathroom, even if you have to go, you have to let them go first. Period." I didn't know if that is an official Commandment, but it sounded good. Still does.

As much as I adore these boys, being solely responsible for them - and, sometimes, their lifelong moral lessons - isn't always a day in the park.