Chapter 49 – Te'om (תאום )(twin) – October 2025
LJ and Ziva arrived at the twins' kindergarten classroom about ten minutes early; today was the first of several scheduled half-hour sharing time with parents to show off newly-acquired skills. From what Ziva and Tony had been able to pry out of the girls, the kids would be singing the alphabet song with some special effects. LJ was excited to be in a classroom with his sisters, and to see all the neat things around the room.
"Look, Ima; they have a fish tank," he pointed to the large tank with its colorful fish and plants. "And look, they have BOOKS, Ima. Lots of books!" He tugged his mother's hand in the direction of the three shelves of picture books.
"Hello," Ms. Anderson, the kindergarten teacher, greeted Ziva and LJ. "Welcome to our classroom. You can join the other parents who are waiting for our show to begin," she pointed to the three parents who were sitting along one side of the classroom.
Ziva nodded and took LJ's hand in hers, intending for him to follow her to the chairs set up for the visitors. LJ had other plans; he broke free of Ziva's grasp and made a beeline for the bookshelves.
"LJ!" Ziva called to her little boy. "Come back here. We should go sit with the visitors." He turned to face his Ima, his disappointment showing clearly on his face.
"He's okay, if he wants to look at the books. All I ask is that he put them away on the shelf when he's done," Ms. Anderson told Ziva. "How old is he?"
"He just turned four last week; are you sure it is okay for him to…" Ziva didn't want LJ to overstep their welcome to the classroom.
"Not a problem." The younger woman smiled and left to greet another parent who had just entered the classroom.
Ziva explained to LJ that he could look at the books as long as he put them back when he was done; he nodded solemnly and promised to clean up after himself. Ziva walked over to sit with the other parents, waving to Riv and Beth as she passed by the tables where they were seated.
"Ziva DiNozzo," she introduced herself to the other mothers waiting for the kids' presentation to begin.
"Mary Atkins," the woman in the business suit held out a hand.
"Leah Jackson," the other mother in jeans smiled as she greeted Ziva. "You are the mother of the other set of twins?"
Ziva nodded, "Yes, Rivka and Beth are mine." LJ came running over to his Ima with a book in his hand, interrupting the conversation.
"Ima! Look, they have Library Lion!" he was so excited to see one of his favorite books that he forgot that he was interrupting a conversation. He noticed all the mothers looking at him, "Oops; sorry for interrupting. But my brain is too excited to see my favorite book, Ima!"
Leah smiled at the little boy, "Hi; what's your name?"
"LJ DiNozzo," he replied softly, suddenly shy. "I'm four."
Mary looked at the little boy and then at Ziva, "You have a four year old and two in kindergarten?"
"Yes, they are not quite twenty months apart."
"How do you keep up with them being so close in age? I can barely manage one," she commented. Ziva could detect a bit of a condescending tone in the other woman.
Ziva smiled a small smile, "I have two older children also; keeping up with five is a challenge, but I would not have it any other way." She was not sure she liked this woman who seemed to be judging her for having a large family.
Leah jumped in to the conversation, "Twins may be more work, but you have to admit that having two the same age means they always have a playmate. Cindy and Carlson have been each other's best buddy since they were babies."
"Alexander has always had playdates with the children from his daycare," Mary cut in. "His nanny arranged them for him weekly."
"Poor kid," Tony came up behind Ziva and spoke softly in her ear. She was glad he was able to make it to the girls' first presentation today. He'd been unsure if he could reschedule a meeting when he left for work that morning.
He turned to the other parents, "Looks like I am the only father so far; Tony DiNozzo." He held out a hand to each of the women.
"Leah Jackson; my kids are the other set of twins," she introduced herself. "Abe should be here soon, so you won't be the only dad."
"Mary Atkins. Alexander's father WON'T be here; he has an important job at the Pentagon," Tony didn't like the woman the minute she opened her mouth and when she refused his hand, he decided she wasn't worth even trying to like.
A man in uniform entered the classroom; Leah waved him over to the other parents. "This is Abe," she introduced her husband to the others.
Tony held out a hand, "Tony DiNozzo; pleased to meet you Lieutenant." He noticed the double bars on the man's United States Navy uniform.
Ziva grinned at the man's surprised look, "Ziva DiNozzo; NCIS special agent. My husband is a former agent; he now works for FLETC-Cheltenham."
Ms. Anderson called the room to order and asked the guests to be seated for the presentation. The kindergarten children were lined up across the front of the classroom, each holding a large piece of poster board in an assortment of colors.
Ziva motioned for LJ to come sit by his parents as the others got quiet to listen to the children.
Ms. Anderson started the presentation, "Welcome parents, grandparents, and visitors to our alphabet variety show. Sit back and enjoy."
Alexander was the first child in the line; Ms. Anderson looked at him expectantly. He stood there with his card and looked at her.
"Alexander? What is the first letter?" she prompted the boy. He stared at her with a blank look.
Beth was next in line; she nudged him and pseudo-whispered, "A is for…"
"AISFORALPHABETAPPLEAARDVARKANDALEXANDER," the boy blurted out in a single breath. He held up his poster board after Beth nudged him again, but it was upside down.
Tony watched Mary trying to correct the kid with gestures and mouthing silently to the kid. When he held his letter A upside down she just about had a fit. She face-palmed and sighed, then checked her phone messages. Tony felt sorry for the kid.
"B is for baseball, banana, and Beth," their little girl said her lines flawlessly and held up her letter B card to show it off to all. Ziva gave her a thumbs' up gesture as the child grinned at her parents.
Carlson was next, "C is for cat, color, crackers, and Carlson." He grinned and held up his letter C card, "Cindy too!"
The kids went through the alphabet; Rivka's turn came after the letter P. "Q is for queen and quiet," she held up a letter Q in her right hand. "R is for rabbit, red, and Rivka," she grinned at her parents as she held up a letter R in her left hand.
"S is for snake, school, and sunshine," Cindy smiled as she held up her letter S card. "But not for Cindy 'cause that starts with C."
The kids finished the alphabet letters and then sang the alphabet song as a group. The parents applauded; well most of the parents applauded. Mary looked at her phone.