On the table was what looked like a baby bassinette, a little wicker basket, with a soft piece of pink cloth and two eggs wrapped in the cloth as though they were babies. In fact, the eggs had little faces drawn on them, and, as I looked more closely, I saw that each had a belly-button.
“Tess! What’s this on the dining room table?”
“What’s what?” my twelve-year-old tomboy genius of a little sister replied.
“Those aren’t eggs. They’re babies.”
“Yes. In health class, each girl got one or two eggs to take care of for a week, to see what it is like to have to care for a baby.”
“Care for a baby?”
“Yes. Keep track of when to pretend to feed it. Carry it carefully. Make sure you don’t leave it in a dangerous place. Take it with you wherever you go, unless you get a baby sitter.”
“But you have two.”
“I wanted twins, Tina and Tammy.”
What happens if you drop them while you are carrying them somewhere?”
“You fail. Watch them for me for a minute? I‘ve got to go to the bathroom.”
“Hurry back. At least, I won’t have to change diapers.”
Tim came in from outdoors just then. He’s in fourth grade and likes to play tricks on people, but he is a sweet kid.
“What’s that, Rick?”
“Tess has given birth to twins.“
“Her health class teacher has each of the girls take care of an egg or two for a week, to get a little idea of what it would be like to be a mother.”
“Don’t let Tess hear that. She thinks they’re cool. Here she comes.”
“Thanks for watching Tina and Tammy for me.”
“No problem. Good babies. Quiet babies.”
Mom came home from school. She teaches seventh grade. She made dinner, and we started to eat, with Dad still at work. He’s an Emergency Medical Technician with the fire department and has strange work hours sometimes.
“What’s that sound?” Mom asked.
“That’s my cell phone!” Tess exclaimed, jumping up from the table. “I’ll take it outside to talk.”
“Don’t forget Tina and Tammy. I’m going upstairs and don’t want to mind them.”
“That’s OK, Rick. They’re coming with me.”
“Tina and Tammy?” Mom asked. “Oh, yes. Tess’s babies for a week. She has no idea….”
I headed upstairs and Tim disappeared. Tess came back in the house to ask Mom for permission to do something with one of her friends. The next thing I heard was a scream.
“Where are my babies?” Tess yelled.
Mom replied, “Didn’t you bring them back in the house after the phone call?”
“No. I set them on the stoop. I was just going to be back outside in a minute. I just wanted your answer about going to the mall with Laura.”
“You left the babies alone outside?”
“Only for a minute. I‘ve got to find them. They‘ve been kidnapped!”
I heard the ruckus all the way upstairs, came down, got the story and asked immediately, “Where’s Timmy?”
“I’m not looking for Timmy. I’m looking for my babies!”
“I’ll bet if you find him, you find your twins.”
Tess ran out of the house, yelling for Timmy, who came in through the back door, carrying the eggs, snugly wrapped in some extra cloth.
Mom glared at him. “Did you kidnap Tess’s twins?”
He smiled. “No. I just took them for a walk. I’m their uncle.”
“Uncle Tim,” I said, “I think you like driving Tess a little crazy, which is a bit mean, but I’m sure she will be relieved when she finds out they are safe.”
Tess came back, annoyed with Tim, pleased the twins were safe, and having learned a lesson.
“You see how easy it is to get distracted when you are supposed to be watching your babies?” Mom asked.
Tess agreed. “Eggs-actly.”