Thursday, November 7, 2013

Two of Everything!

I don't usually turn heads at Costco, but one memorable experience proved an exception. That was the day I found myself not only in woeful need of cat supplies, but determined to never be caught short again. I lumbered along, propelling a double-wide cart heaped with three bags of kitty litter - that's 126 pounds - and another 64 in crunchy dry food. (Hey people! It's Costco!) Yet several shoppers stop me, gaping openly to ask, "How many do you have?" (Of what? Arms? Heads? Oh, you mean cats!) I provided a truthful answer, (six!) although Dear Abby suggests a worthy deflection for too-nosy people that I might have considered, "Why do you need to know?"

Today I write of a return mission to that place, this time in pursuit of three other things - coffee filters, compliments, and observations. Two of these items were collected in abundance......


I glide into the store, fully aware that multiple pairs of eyes follow me. In my cart, snugly strapped into the kiddie seat, are one year old twin granddaughters, Ava and Angeline. They are dressed in pink from head to toe, cute as a pair of little buttons. Their five year old twin brothers, dashingly handsome Nick and Sae, amply fill the "race car" part of the cart. Yes, I know. We are a sight to behold. Grandma has staged it all and cannot wait for the party to begin.

The boys - Halloween 2013

But mommy is here for groceries. Lots of them. She's been told that numerous times by fellow shoppers. You see, everyone has an opinion on the spectacle that is a set of twins, doubled. "Wow! You sure have your hands full!" Sometimes mommy just can't take it any more. So, today I tell her to go ahead on her own and load up. Enjoy the luxury of solitude. My own needs are simple. I know what I came for, and even before I turn the first corner, I find it. "Oooooh! Twins! No, wait! TWO sets? OMG Ellen, come look at this!" The women squeal as if beholding the bearded lady out on a date with the half-snake man. I pull my cart alongside them and graciously introduce us all. The kids are used to it. I'm on top of the world.


We move on, but it happens again. "Do twins run in your family?" "They do now!" I smile in reply. And again. "Do they do everything together?" "No, they are individual personalities with their own  strengths, interests, and friends." I check off my first observation. It is always the ladies who stop to comment. The men in the store are glued to the elbows of their wives, anxious about being in the right place when it is time to hoist a 50 pound bag of oranges into the boss lady's cart. I observe only one poor soul - a bewildered elderly gentleman - break rank to accost a bakery employee, asking if shoelaces (!) can be found near shelves that groan with Italian bread loaves.

With grandma at the wheel, the boys are in heaven. They point and I steer. "To the toy department!" we shout in unison. Three foot Darth Vader and Spiderman dolls are poked and prodded. We return again and again. Grandma is never in a hurry so there's plenty of time to examine everything. We visit the Christmas aisles and the boys stand up in the cart, mesmerized by a decoration that strikes me as bizarre. It is a disemboweled ceramic snowman with a pair of tiny trains circulating in the place his intestines ought to be. "Junk! Dust collector!" I breathe to myself, but only before one of the boys announces that if they had that snowman at home he'd sit and watch it all day and all night long. I didn't expect this observation to strike me the way it did. Has a lifetime of accumulating things misled me to a place where there is no room for the same unbridled joy a little boy discovers on the shelf of a warehouse store?

I brush that aside and move forward again, reflecting on the times my daughter has been confronted with intrusive queries about her children. What kind of a person would ask such things, I wonder. But when we turn the corner I see the answer to my question. She's shopping the pasta aisle. Stopping dead in her tracks, she demands to know if the kids are fraternal or identical twins. I think it's obvious but I answer her anyway. "Fraternal. Both sets." She absorbs this, confirms it for herself, and then brazenly asks if these grandchildren of mine are the result of In Vitro Fertilization. On paper, Dear Abby's rebuttal is genius. I've always kept it in a handy part of my brain - just in case. But I face this young woman and detect only intense interest without a shred of malice. That makes it impossible for me to offer the answer she probably deserves. "No," I reply truthfully. "They are not." Satisfied, she moves away, but not before I tell her that her own little ragamuffin of a kid is cute. That time though, I'm afraid, I did lie.

On our last revisit to Darth and the Spiderman, I am approached in a now familiar way. "Twins?" I turn around, facing a couple who are smiling affectionately. Contentedly. "We have a set of them too!" they tell me. Grandparents. Something about these people makes me wish I could reach out and group-hug them both. Their eyes are kind, not darting and curious, their comments gentle, not probing. Their own grandchildren are 12 years old, a boy and girl. They are so proud of them. I'm not offended that they don't tell me my grandchildren are cute because I live Grandma Code too. Only our own are the world's cutest and smartest. Yours and mine. We know that. No need to belabor it. Grandparenthood is far too wise and much too gracious to indulge in the ugliness of competitive comparison. We've traveled the same road to become who we are now and we celebrate one another with fondness and respect. My chat with these lovely people lasts only a moment, but when we move to part, I tell them how nice it was to talk to them. They tell me the same thing. Grandparent Code - at its finest!

We meet mommy at check out. The young clerk fakes a double take (pun intended!) and asks if we're familiar with the store's "buy one, get one" offer. Hardy har har. He thinks we've not heard that one before, but we chuckle kindly anyway and agree to be "charged" for just one kid from each pair. He means well. They all do.

We're not yet out of the parking lot before I realize that I've forgotten my coffee filters. Understandable. But my observations about human behavior - especially those of my own -  have come home with me to stay!


  1. What a story! I really enjoyed it. I do think it's pretty incredible that they have two sets of twins. You must get stopped everywhere. My sisters are twins and I remember as a child that people stopped us all the time just for the one set. Your grandchildren are beautiful and they must be a joy and a blessing in your life.

  2. Great post - I only wish I had two sets of twin grandkids to take shopping with me - it seems like a delightful day.

  3. You just had so much fun! I can hear it in your voice -- you are just full of Grandma pride! You were wallowing in all that attention both from the shoppers and the Grands! Grandma J at her very happiest! Don't even blame you a bit! (Wonderful pictures!)

  4. in vitro....thank goodness I was not drinking something as I read this because i would have choked laughing as i spit it out. It is SOOOO good that coffee time is not when I read this post.

    Next time you need to attach a little flag or balloon to the cart, ha ha

    The pictures are wonderful! All are adorable but oh the one of Angeline's eyes in that closeup. Swoon......

    I most CERTAINLY would be accosting you in the store ...probably asking to pick one of those babies up for a hug and kiss. Yep, I'd be the really annoying one !!! :)

  5. Ah the unspoken Grandma Code. I know that one!
    I love the story you told.
    Oh and for the record...I have the cutest grandkids and twin brothers who are now in their 40's. LOL

    Thanks for stopping by.
    ~Naila Moon

  6. Wow, I can't imagine stopping a stranger in a store and demanding to know how her children were conceived! Nunya bizness, woman! Move along!

  7. "I'm not offended that they don't tell me my grandchildren are cute because I live Grandma Code too. Only our own are the world's cutest and smartest. Yours and mine. We know that. No need to belabor it."

    ...and now our secret is out!

  8. Hi J. thanks for your visit. I thoroughly enjoyed your post. They are beautiful. Our first pregnancy was twin daughters, lots of twins in hubbies family, but died at birth. I did not get to see them as I was very sick. I know they are angels in heaven. None of our 6 children have twins, but grands are grown and marrying now and some may show up. Blessings J to you and your family.

  9. Oh my goodness! Double and double again the fun and joy and blessings! Those eyes - those smiles - no kidding, who could resist? I just had twin grandchildren born yesterday - the first time in our family - on either side as far as any of us know. A boy and a girl - from my oldest daughter. Am I over the moon? Yes! What fun to see your adventures a little further down the twin road. Stopping in today from Lisa's Grand Social.

  10. This sounded like such a fun day! What wonderful sociological observations you get to make, every time you go out with your grands! (Always, anyway, being a writer and all, but *especially* when you have your grands!). Thank you for sharing your Costco adventure! :)

    Love, Joy

  11. It really will be interesting to see whether twin boys or twin girls cause Mommy to pull out the most hair!

  12. Sounds like a fun day. I loved the tour of the toy aisle. As I have come to learn it is always fun when the grandchildren are with you. Interesting observations. Thanks for sharing your great trip to Costco

  13. Just found your blog from the blog hop. What a great, well written post! That's awesome you have two sets of twin grandkids and I love your observations about the people around you. :)

  14. Your grandsons remind me of my son with their dark eyes and dark blonde hair. My 3 yr old has the same beautiful coloring. :)

  15. Thanks for sharing your story and it is lucky to have 2 sets of twin grandsons. They look so adorable. Thanks for joining 4 seasons blog hop.

  16. OMG - best laugh all day. You didn't need coffee filters, you were high on grandkids. What a blast of a post - I laughed through the whole thing picturing all those folks accosting you. And, who has the nerve to ask about conception? Geez. I have spent so many shopping trips going up and down the toy aisles I felt like I was with you going up and down those aisles. Wish I lived closer we could go shopping together and put one girl and one boy in each cart and walk down next to each other. We'd drive them crazy trying to figure out how we each had grandkids that looked so much alike. LOL

  17. Oh my goodness this was too fun! When I first read that you were taking both sets into a store I thought that you were terribly brave! I'm not sure I could have managed all that, but you my dear, had fun with it. So great :)

  18. oh J! i wish everyone had a grandma like you! your absolutely beautiful grandkids are adorable and have a light that comes from you :>D

    1. and oh my goodness i just noticed your jelly bean background! no wonder i love you so! heehee