When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I was determined to raise them as independent little people. I never referred to them as “the twins” and preferred that other people avoid that as well. When they were born, I tried my hardest to avoid dressing them in matching outfits (which was hard because people REALLY like to give them as gifts…and see them worn!) in an effort to emphasize that they are, in fact, two seperate beings.
As they grow – and appear to be very, very much alike physically – I find myself trying hard to point out their behaviorial differences. Sometimes they are true observations, such as “Aaron is a much faster crawler and Brady goes more slowly, trying to work on technique”. But lately I’ve also found myself guilty of saying things like “Aaron is great at self-soothing, Brady is not as good”. I didn’t think too much of it at first, until I was awake and rocking Brady at 4:30 am in the morning. And I had to wonder: Did I do this to them?
For all my talk about Aaron being better at self-soothing, is it because I have a tendency to pick up Brady first? Have I forced Aaron to be more independent (and wait it out) while encouraging Brady to be more dependent on the cuddle, the rock, the touch of a parent while falling asleep?
I have also heard myself proclaiming “Brady will eat anything, Aaron is more picky.” Is that true? Or, do I subconsciously give up on new foods faster with Aaron because I have labeled him in my mind as the finicky one?
I’m not sure. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation I guess. But I am starting to worry about the danger of labeling my children in a desperate attempt to find the differences between them. All this labeling seems to be actually driving and encouraging those behaviours that were perhaps not really there before.
One thing I will have to start working on is accepting that they are, in fact, identical twins. They will look alike. They will behave in a similar fashion. Their personalities will come alive on their own and their differences will shine through. In the meantime, perhaps, I should start celebrating some of these special similarities instead of trying SO HARD to force them to be different people.