Let me preface this blog with a PSA to all mothers of boy multiples.
Once your kids are potty trained, buy 21 pairs of PLAIN WHITE underwear. Do not get suckered into buying fun underpants that decorate your kids’ bottoms with cartoon characters. You will thank me for this advice and will be saved countless early morning fights over who gets to wear the coveted Batman underpants that day and who gets stuck with the boring soccer ball undies.
Twice a week after school, the triplets have swimming lessons. Someone from the preschool takes them from class to the pool and helps them change into their swimsuits, and an hour later, Michael and I pick them up and take them to the locker room to get dressed.
As you can imagine, the pool locker room is mad chaos. There are at least 10 shivering preschoolers, their moms or nannies, a handful of naked octogenarians, and Big Mike, who, fortunately, stays content in his chariot as long as he has lots and lots of snacks.
Last Wednesday, as usual, Charlie got to his locker first. He’s speedy-- yanked on all his clothes without help. He’s also very impatient.
In the time it takes Charlie to get dressed, Zach’s managed to take off his swimsuit and put on his shirt. Cooper, meanwhile, has stopped to get water, to pee, to watch his friends, and to peak into the showers. “GET DRESSED,” I tell him. He responds that he needs to go potty (again) and disappears.
Charlie is headed to the exit door. STOP, I tell him. I tell Michael to guard the door. I hope no one notices the pile of soggy cheerios and cookie accumulating around his stroller.
I pull Zach’s blue Spiderman undies out of his locker. They are crusty. Someone forgot to wipe.
I covertly show Zach the skid-marked underpants and tell him that he can’t wear them. He’ll just have to go commando, at least until we get home.
Now, this would be reasonable to the normal human being, but not to Zach. Apparently not wearing underwear is against everything he stands for. He starts bouncing up and down, lips quivering, on the verge of a major tantrum. Because I will not let him wear poop-crusted underwear. I don’t have much time; my patience is wearing thin, Charlie is pushing on the door to leave, Cooper is finally naked, but marching through the locker room waiving his swim trunks like a flag. Michael’s snacks are almost gone.
I’ve learned to choose my battles, and I just hoped the other moms weren’t watching as I rolled my eyes and let Zach pull on the dirty britches.
Little did I know that a bigger battle was brewing.
As Zach is pulling up his pants, Charlie spots the blue Spiderman underpants on Zach and realizes that a terrible mistake has been made. He cannot believe his eyes. “NOOO!!! Those are MINE! Give those BAAAACK.” You see, turns out that the poopy undies Zach was refusing to take off, were actually Charlie’s coveted blue Spiderman undies. The very pair that Charlie himself had worn all day and skidmarked. There had been a mixup at the lockers when they got changed. Charlie wanted the underpants back. That instant.
There is screaming and tears.
Charlie yanks down his own pants to show Zach the mix-up. He is wearing the WHITE Spiderman underpants that Zach had chosen that morning. Zach doesn’t care. He will not take off the poopy blue underwear.
I have a headache.
I look at Michael, whose face and hands are covered with mushy training cookie goo.
I look at Cooper, who is now singing God Bless America, wearing his swim trunks on his head.
I look at the other mothers in the locker room, perfectly cool and calm, with their perfectly cool and calm children, none of whom are wearing soiled underpants, I am sure.
I look at the old ladies and hope they don’t get soggy cheerios stuck to their bare feet (and if they do, that they don't associate them with me).
I man-up and threaten hours of time-out to any child of mine who dares take off underwear or any other article of clothing (except for Cooper who I threaten a 3pm bedtime if he didn’t start putting clothes ON).
And that, my fellow parents of multiples, is why 21 pairs of matching underwear is the only way to go for your preschooler boys.