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Tom McLaughlin: Dancing With The Girls



Been doing quite a lot of spontaneous dancing lately. It's fun, good exercise, and not something I'd done much of since I was a teenager, but I'm liking it. Sometimes my granddaughters hold hands with me as we dance and other times we cut loose in what I guess you'd call "free-form." It could be sparked by the intro score to "Shaun The Sheep," or most any other kind of music that comes over various electronic media in the house. We sing a lot too, usually old favorites like "Wheels on the Bus" or "Old McDonald." We're having a grand time and we read a lot of books also, many of which I hadn't read for 30 years. There are tea parties too, almost every day.

It's seldom dull here since we invited my daughter and her family to stay with us for a while. She's having twin boys any day now, and looking more pregnant than any woman I've ever seen. With 3-year-old Claire and 2-year-old Lila — my dance partners — she can't reasonably be expected to handle twin boys as well — not for a while at least. The boys' names aren't firm yet, but right now they're Luke and Henry. Various suggestions included Daryl and Daryl or Hans and Frans, but those monikers didn't seem to fit. We'll know for sure what to call them when they finally emerge.

We thought they'd come three weeks ago when she had contractions for several hours, but it wasn't to be. If she hasn't delivered by the time you read this, it will be 39 weeks — a long time for twins. She'd like the pregnancy to be over and we're all ready for the births — except for Luke and Henry that is, who are estimated to weigh around six pounds each at this writing. They're biding their time.

Life is different for my wife and I, but it's the same in a way too, because we were in this mode 30-something years ago. But it's soon to become still more different. Twins will be a new experience.

We moved our bedroom back downstairs where we slept when our own children were teenagers. Back then I wanted them to have to walk by our bedroom when trying to sneak in late. After they were grown and gone, we moved upstairs to the master bedroom. Now my daughter and family have the whole second floor with a couple of bathrooms to themselves, except for a small office where I'm writing this. The main floor now has lots of doll carriages, doll houses, a potty chair, puzzles, games, miniature table and chairs, as well as several other items too numerous to list. The girls are both housebroken, so there'll be just the boys in diapers, a large supply of which have already been donated.

After our nest emptied, It took my wife and I a while to get used to cooking for only the two of us. Now we're cooking for six again and resurrecting old recipes. It's like old times, but now we're older.

My son-in-law has to work at his building and remodeling business and my wife has her counseling practice Mondays and Tuesdays, so I do most of my dancing and singing on those days. I can come up here to my office once in a while other days, but I'm not sure I'll be able to continue banging out a column every week after the boys arrive. We'll see. Other extended family members will hopefully spell us once in a while so we can get respite at our South Portland house.

I used to dance, sing, and attend tea parties decades ago, but not with as much abandon as I do now. I didn't have nearly enough time back then and I enjoy it more this time around. It's not what I expected to be doing when I retired but hey, there are worse ways to spend my time and energy.

When the boys come, I'll take on the added duty of gatekeeper. There are scores of well-meaning friends and relatives on both sides who will want to visit and see the twins, and my job will be to keep them away for four to six weeks as my daughter adjusts. She intends to nurse both of them and it will be interesting to see how that's accomplished. Diaper-changing might cut into my frolicking a bit as well. I thought those days were behind me, but no.

The little log cabin in the woods where my daughter and her family lived is too small now, so I guess I'll leave the South Portland house alone for a while and continue renewing my hammer-and-saw skills helping my son-in-law expand the cabin — when I'm not busy dancing and singing, that is.


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