The right motivation.

It was a week after the birth of our twins when I’d first heard the term “push present.” I didn’t cotton to the idea. First, there was the stupid, somewhat vulgar name. Then, there was the idea that you had to buy your wife something so that she would feel appreciated. Fellas, if you’ve been by your wife’s side for the nine or so months she is pregnant, and she still doesn’t know that you love her and appreciate her for everything she’s been through while carrying your child/children, then you’re doing it wrong.

I can’t remember how I heard about this concept, but it wasn’t from Lara. Somehow, she had felt the safe delivery of her son and daughter was enough. This from a woman who had been through hell on earth for most of a year and was puking green liquid every 45-minutes for the 24 hours after giving birth.

But I am nothing if not a man of contradictions. While I was and am mildly repulsed by the materialistic idea of a “push present,” I must admit that I was actually already thinking about getting her something. It was exactly the kind of “reward” that I scoffed at, but I didn’t care. Hypocrisy be damned; if anyone deserved a reward, it was her.

I was thinking it would be a new laptop to replace the one that was now slowly failing. But during one of our daily visits to the NICU, Lara and I saw a commercial for the iPad. She turned to me wide eyed and said, “I want one of those.” It was a look I’d seen nearly 20 years earlier, while the two of us of watched Jon Bon Jovi in the video for his song “Blaze of Glory” from that cinematic milestone, Young Guns II. Now, as it had been then, her desire was palpable.

Her need for Steve Jobs’ latest trend setter was stated simply as a fact, not a request. But my mind was set. Two days later, I came home from Target with an iPad. Excited and disbelieving at first, Lara quickly told me to return it; as fun as it looked, she said didn’t really know what she would use it for, succinctly pinpointing the genius of Apple’s marketing team. I did as I was asked, but I told her that she was getting something else.

Six months later, she did get something else: an iPad 2. I had found a way that it might actually come in handy for her photography, which I felt was justification enough. As it turns out, she’s never used it for her photography, but she has grown to love it just the same.

When Jack came home after his circumcision, we tried many different ways to take his mind off of his discomfort. He had enjoyed watching me play video games a few times in the past, especially Rock Band, which combined light shows and music. So one evening, when Emme and I were keeping him company, I downloaded an iPad game that I had heard about that sounded similar: Groove Coaster. Both Jack and Emmeline were mesmerized by its funky techno tunes and wireframe, TRON-like visuals. They also liked that they could play by simply slapping the screen (though their scores were abysmal).

Neither of them had taken much notice of the iPad during the six weeks it had been in our home. But from that night forward, they both became obsessed with it. Neither Lara nor I can use the iPad in the same room as the twins without them trying to roll over to us, zombie style, to try and take it. They will allow little to stand in their way between them and the iPad, especially if Groove Coaster is playing.

I used this fact to my advantage earlier this afternoon. For the past week or so, Emme has been teasing us by almost crawling. She has gotten to the point where she is frantically rocking back and forth, but she can’t quite put together what she needs to do. She has started to cry out in frustration with loud, staccato grunts every time she rocks. Since this is about every five minutes, frustration has begun to strike me and Lara, too.

It was during one of these rocking fits a hour or so ago, that inspiration struck:

All she needed was the right motivation.

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