Opinion: How our twin toddlers turned our lives (and chairs) upside down


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Brian Adams photo.

Brian Adams photo. Courtesy—


Published: 04-13-2024 8:00 AM

Brian Adams of Andover, Mass., is a UNH alumnus originally from Londonderry. He was previously a sketch comedy writing instructor and staff writer at ImprovBoston and a founding contributor to satirical online newspaper Recyculus. He is a father to three girls ages 6 and under.

Our six-year-old daughter had two neighborhood friends over to play recently. The girls had barely set foot in the house before my wife, Kim, noticed them staring in confusion (and perhaps judgment) at our kitchen table. The whole kitchen, along with many parts of the house, could easily give the false impression that we had been the recent victims of a burglary, or perhaps some kind of witness intimidation tactic. Only those of us who live here knew that it was all an inside job.

“The chairs are flipped upside down like that for Hannah and Olivia,” Kim explained to our young guests, unsolicited. She was referring to our newly minted two-year-old twin daughters.

I chimed in, “If we don’t tip them over and lay them on the floor after every meal, they’ll use the chairs to climb up on the table and try to eat anything that’s on there, food or otherwise. They’ll also try to pull down the chandelier.”

The girls looked more confused than ever, which was reasonable. Kim and I were initially confused as well. We had already raised our oldest daughter, somewhat successfully, all the way through kindergarten. No special safety gadgets or advanced strategies were required. Then came Hannah and Olivia, two tiny terrors whose cuteness was only rivaled by their mischievousness.

They end every meal by throwing their tiny forks at my wife with startling accuracy. They follow us to the bathroom and pound on the closed door like tiny zombies, sticking their little fingers under the door and screaming until we emerge. They have us on our heels at every turn, constantly unprepared for what they might do next.

It started with the garbage. Since learning to walk last year, Hannah and Olivia have spent a considerable amount of time trying to access the pull-out trash bins in our kitchen. I installed some cabinet locks to help keep them out. Over the course of a few months, they broke five of them before I decided that maybe eating old banana peels wasn’t the worst thing they could do. As luck would have it, their desire to collect and consume garbage subsided to a more manageable level, but their escape artistry was just beginning.

I put them to bed in their cribs one night, then folded some laundry before deciding to return downstairs. As I walked down the hallway, I saw the two of them walking towards me, with a look that seemed to say, “Hey old man, what are you doing up here?” but came out as “Dada?”

It was then that I consulted with the internet to find out how to keep them contained in their cribs. The next day, a package arrived with two mesh tents that fit perfectly in their cribs. I think they were designed to take kids on camping trips and protect them from ticks or malaria or whatever is going on outside these days. I don’t know, I’m more of an indoorsman. Either way, it appeared that we had them contained during nighttime hours.

Upon watching the twins enter their new crib tents for the first time, six-year-old Alexandra said to me, “Oh, look! They love their new cages!”

“Tents! They’re tents!” I quickly corrected her, immediately imagining her telling her teachers that her twin sisters simply adored the new cages that their Dad got for them.

A new behavior emerged once the new tents were in place. Hannah and Olivia started to disrobe in the middle of the night, every night, showing a sudden preference to sleep au naturale. The result was two wet beds almost every morning and a laundry pile that seemed as bottomless as the twins themselves.

After suffering through weeks of this, my Mom texted me a link to a video she had found entitled “Mom Hack - Keep Your Kids’ Pajamas On” which couldn’t have arrived sooner. The trick? Put their pajamas on backwards like a straight jacket so they couldn’t unzip themselves. Much to my delight, it worked. As such, their nightly bedtime routine started to seem more like the setup for a David Blaine-inspired stunt: ‘Watch as the twin toddlers are placed in their inescapable backwards pajamas, then zippered into mesh tents, completely surrounded by Pottery Barn cribs. They will have only 30 minutes to escape to the living room before their favorite episode of Ms. Rachel comes to an end.

These children of ours have certainly put us through the wringer, but I guess raising kids isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s a challenge for anyone, the only difference being the degree of difficulty. Though their behavior currently puts us in a variety of predicaments on a daily basis, I take solace in knowing that Hannah and Olivia’s adventurous spirits, as well as their tremendous curiosity, will likely benefit them as they grow older.

If it holds true that from adversity comes strength, the good news is that I should be bench-pressing more than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson by the time the twins turn three.