A Jolly Holly-Day

…or alternately titled, Another Twin Call to Poison Control

Our  twin tale begins with a gorgeous day in Virginia, and an overly confident mommy of 30-month old twins.

Feeling proud of my twosome for their new-found adherence to correction and commands, I decided to gamely venture into our backyard for an outdoor playfest.

Ratio? One Mommy: Two 2 1/2 year-old twins. Seemed to be a pretty safe bet. I played the odds. What I neglected to remember was the house (in this instance, the backyard) always has the advantage.

We started innocently enough; happily raking, shoveling and even gently tossing sand in our turtle-shaped sandbox. We had a few minor skirmishes over prized beach toys, but no punishable confrontations. Everything was going so smoothly, I even entertained the fantasy of establishing a time-slot in our daily routine for these en plein aire play sessions.

Then, the chaos ensued.

He-Twin, apparently disenchanted with the diversions offered by the sandbox, bolted up and out of its confines…heading straight toward our shed. A mental inventory of the shed’s contents revealed not only the rakes (undoubtedly Darren’s desired playthings) but a Grim Reaper-esque scythe/hedge pruner. After one (firm), two (firmer), three (outright threatening), “Darren, Come Here!”-s, I realized I’d have to pursue him rapidly on foot. Scooping him up, I began the verbal correction session. We spun around to return to the sandbox area, and surprise!

She-Twin had not only evacuated the sandbox, but was plucking, and to my horror, seemingly inserting, holly berries into her grinning mouth.

Like a football player, I held my bulky boy in one arm, while sprinting toward my giggling, mischief-giddy girl. Running the cursory finger-rake through her mouth, I excavated a morsel of what appeared to be the dreaded berry.

Double baby scoop, and into the house we flew. Of course by now, the decibel level was deafening. The harmonizing “I’m sorry”-s would have struck a chord, except the dreaded, yet necessary, call had to be made.

Barely able to hear the Poison Control spokesperson over the din, I asked, “Are holly berries poisonous?”

Her response, “Oh yes, definitely. How many do you think she consumed?”

“Maybe just one?” I tentatively replied.

“That should be okay.”

“What if it was two?”

“Two’s okay, too.”

“I doubt she had the time, but what if it was three?”

“That shouldn’t be a problem either.”

The screams escalating in the background forced me to ask what I was hoping she’d reveal voluntarily, “How many is too many?”


“I’m having a hard time getting a straight answer out of my frustrated daughter. What if she did eat five? What do I need to do?”

“Take her to the emergency room immediately. How’s she behaving?”

“Well, as I am sure you can hear, she’s not exactly behaving. But she’s seems irritated in her normal ‘How dare you bring me inside?’ kind of way.”

“Then, let’s hope for the best. Can I have her name? (Answered) Your zip code? (answered) Bye-bye, and good luck!”

Good luck, indeed. It was time for the Grand Twinquisition.

“Sarah, did you eat the holly berries?”


“Did you eat 2?”


“Did you eat 10?”


“Did you spit the berry out?”


“Did you swallow any berries?”


“Did the berry taste good?”


“Did it taste iccky?”


Each of the following one hundred questions, which I’ll spare you here, caused her eyes to twinkle more & more. She had my total, atypical, undivided-with-her-twin-brother attention. And to her view, this was a fun conversation.

At this point, projectile vomit and/or diarrhea no longer seemed imminent.

Now my fear was that this trauma-created interrogation was too much fun. Surely the next time we crossed the threshold, she’d make a beeline to the holly bushes to begin the game again.

“Sarah & Darren, I want you both to listen to me carefully. You NEVER eat anything unless it is on your plate, or unless Mommy or Daddy gives it to you. Do you understand?”

“Yes!” came the resounding, twin-unison reply.

Flash forward to the next morning. Peeking into the playroom, which looks out onto our backyard, I see Sarah. Her face and hands are pressed to the sliding glass doors.

“What are you looking at, Honey?” I asked. “Do you see a squirrel?”

“No. I am looking at the beautiful berries. And next time, Mommy and Daddy are going to give them to you.”

Suppose I am grateful we own that Grim-Reaper scythe after all.

It’ll come in handy when decking our yard-waste bins with boughs of holly.

Fa- La- La- La- La…. La- La- La- La.