From the bedroom, where I was busy changing Mademoiselle's diaper, I was listening to le Petit's monologue as he finished up lunch.
"I want water," he said out loud to himself. After a pause, he added, "...but I can't. I can't open!"
I pictured the 1.5 litre bottle of water which was sitting on the dining room table. It was heavy and in glass, with a difficult screw cap.
"Hon," I called out, trying to sound encouraging and not alarmed, "If you want water, why don't you go grab one of the bottles next to Mommy's bed?" My husband stocks several half-litre plastic bottles of water on my bedside table to keep me hydrated during Mademoiselle's late-night feedings. (He brings the bottles home from work free, but I love the gesture. When you're awake at 3 a.m., it's nice to know someone has thought of you earlier, even if they're currently obliviously snoring into a pillow next to you.)
I heard an avalanche of footsteps as le Petit tore down the hallway and clambered onto our bed.
Then I heard, "I can't open it!"
Uh-oh. Usually le Petit has no trouble with plastic bottles, but to my luck, he was defeated by the cap just when I was in the middle of baby poop containment procedures.
"Bring it here, then!" Half convincing myself that my hands were still sufficiently clean, I twisted off the cap, screwed it back on lightly and then gave it back to le Petit. He skipped back off to the dining table.
"I can't open it!" He brought the bottle back to the bedroom and we repeated the operation. I almost left the cap off entirely, but le Petit (clearly smarter than I am already) took one skeptical look at the full bottle, evaluated his ability to carry it, and said no. I screwed the top on extra lightly and le Petit rushed back off to the table.
"Oh!" I overheard a moment later, in le Petit's tone of delighted surprise, "Oh! There's water!"
"Did you spill?" I called out in concern. "Try not to make a big mess."
"Oh! My hand is wet!" le Petit continued cheerfully as if discovering some remarkable natural phenomenon by clever experimentation, then added for my benefit, "C'est pas grave. No big deal."
"A lot or a little of water?"
"C'est pas grave. C'est pas grave!"
This is just one example of how caring for two is both harder and easier than I expected. Harder because I cannot control everything, even less than I had convinced myself I could control it before. Easier because I care much, much less than I expected to care. How bad could a bit of spilled water be? Or milk, or applesauce? What's a few more crumbs on the floor?
I've discovered one surprising thing: when you're a parent to two children, looking after just one feels like a vacation. My mother-in-law has been coming over frequently to take either Mademoiselle or le Petit off my hands (to let me go out of the house by myself, for example, which I still don't dare do with both kids in tow). Every time I feel positively giddy with freedom.