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It Takes Two
A week after the boys move in, a birthday present for me arrives in the
mail from my sister.
"Why aren't you going to open it?" Erik asks.
"Because it's not my birthday yet," I answer.
"But why?" he whimpers, and stamps his foot in frustration.
"I want you to open it now!" Johnny demands.
"I want to wait for my birthday, to make my day really special—you'll
see," I try to explain. I can see that my attempt to explain delayed
gratification doesn't exactly go over well.
Several days later, I arrive home from work. "I have a surprise for
you, Tony!" Johnny exclaims.
"You do?" I reply.
"It's in my room, I'm gonna go get it." And with that, he runs
out of the room and back in with a gift-wrapped box and card, and hands
them to me.
"Oh, I think this is for my birthday," I say. "I think
I should wait."
"It's a shirt," he blurts out. Then he runs back into his bedroom
and back to me again. "And this one's from Erik, it's also a shirt!"
So much for surprises from 4-year-olds.
"Surprise!" Erik, Johnny, and Antonio shout, leaping out from
behind the door when I arrive home several nights later on my birthday.
"Are you going to open your presents now?" they ask, barely
able to contain their excitement.
"Johnny doesn't know how to keep a secret!" Erik chimes in.
"You already know what they are."
"That's true," I reply, "but this birthday is still the
most special ever for me, because you guys are here to celebrate it with
me." They giggle, dimpled and beaming.
"Here, I think the boys would like the two of you to read them this
story before bedtime," Miss Pam, their teacher, says to Antonio,
handing him a book as he drops them off the next morning at school.
"It's called And Tango Makes Three," she goes on, the
book is based on the true story of two male penguins at the New York City
Zoo, who, appearing to exhibit courting and mating behaviors, are given
an egg from a straight pair of penguins who have a history of not nurturing
multiple eggs to hatching. As Mother Nature would have it, the male couple,
named Roy and Silo, successfully nurtures the egg and raises a baby female
penguin, which the zookeeper names Tango because "it takes two to
The boys are very engrossed, as I read to them: "They feed her from
their beaks, and they snuggle her in at night; Tango was the very first
penguin in the zoo to have two daddies." At that, Johnny leaps
up and proclaims, "Just like you and Antonio!"
For the next week solid, as we're getting the boys into their pajamas,
Erik runs over and picks up the book. "Read this one again tonight,
Tony," he pleads. "It's my favorite, I love it!" Score
one for Miss Pam.