When the twins were eleven months old, we flew from hot and sticky Buenos Aires to icy, wintry Albany, New York (via Rio de Janeiro and NYC) for the holidays. We stayed with my mother in her tiny house in Kinderhook. The twins had their cribs in an upstairs bedroom, pushed against one wall. Almost from the first day, a mysterious thing happened – scrawling scribbles in what looked to be pencil appeared on the wall by Sebi’s crib. Now, the twins were, at that time, eleven months old. They didn’t walk or talk yet, so we couldn’t ask what was going on. I looked everywhere for a pencil. We took Sebi’s bed apart. We took his mattress off, we shook out his covers. We looked in nooks and crannies in the crib and found nothing – but every morning there were more scribbles.
We washed the wall. Searched again. A pencil in the hand of an eleven month old could be dangerous. We took the bed apart, again. The next morning – more scribbles. This happened for over a week. We could Not understand where Sebi got the pencil. Where was it? How? And then one day, as we were washing the wall and again, searching for the pencil, my mother moved Sebi’s stuffed bunny out of the way, and felt something hard in it. Carefully looking, we found a tiny hole, and poked into the hole, was the stub of a pencil. Sebi had been taking it out, scribbling on the wall at night, and pushing it back into the stuffed animal when he was done.
The mystery cleared up, we could stop worrying about ghosts handing out pencils to wakeful babies at night. And then we went to Florida for the polo season. There, we rented an apartment with pristine white walls. And there, one day, Sebi (or Alex – I’ll never know) found a pen and scribbled all over the wall behind the couch. My husband had been gone all morning and I’d been watching the twins. When he came home, I was busy scrubbing the wall. Obviously, I’d failed in my duty – the blue markings on the wall proved it. “How could you let him do that?” My husband said. “How hard can it be to watch two toddlers for an hour?”
Well, the next day I went shopping and an hour later I came back to find my husband, red-faced, scrubbing the wall. While I’d been gone, and while he’d been watching one twin, the other had found a pen and had scribbled all over the wall again. I was far too virtuous to say “I told you so.” But one day, I promised, I’d write the story down. And so I have.