Back when I was about six months pregnant, I happened to run into a former colleague at a district wide grade level meeting (which basically means that all the 1st grade teachers in the district were getting together to discuss curriculum). I hadn’t seen her in quite a while, but news of my twin pregnancy had reached her and she came over to congratulate me. “Oh good,” she said when I told her that we were expecting a boy and a girl. “People are much more likely to see them as individuals instead of a packaged deal. I just hate when my friend refers to her girls as the twins. They are two individual girls, and they should be treated as such.”
Her comment came as no surprise to me, as this very topic pops up quite often in the blogoshpere of parents of multiples. It’s not difficult to find a post where a parent writes about trying to distinguish their children for family and friends or passes on tips regarding how to find time for each child when time is something of which we never feel we have enough. And while parenting multiples has quite a few challenges, I imagine parenting identical children (I mean in appearance, of course) has a few more unique challenges on top.
But all this in mind, I have to confess that thus far (almost two years), I’ve done almost nothing to individualize my twins. It helps that I have one girl and one boy, and I rarely dress them alike, but I know that I can and should be doing more to help them develop their own sense of self. They are always together, and have only had a very small amount of one-on-one time with a parent.
And just recently, I’ve begun to wonder how they think of themselves and what they might be wanting. It is clear that they enjoy spending time together (for the most part), but Tiny can sometimes take it hard if Buba wants to go off on his own. She’ll go after him, take him by the hand, and bring him back to the activity that she wants him to play with her. When I find a bit of time in the day to sit down and play with the kids, often Buba will wander off to do his own thing (read books or play with a toy that Tiny hogs) seeming to know that Tiny will be occupied with me and therefore won’t demand companionship from him.
It’s hard for me to know what’s best for them sometimes. I want them to be close, as singleton siblings might be, but not so extremely close that they can’t do anything without each other. Will this work itself out over time? Will they learn to be individuals when they go to school? Will they independently develop different interests that will lead them to separate activities? Or will I need to take a more active role to help these things happen? For moms with pre-schoolers or older twins, what has been your experiences?
reanbean is a SAHM to boy/girl twins, Buba and Tiny, who will be 2 on Sunday. You can read more from reanbean at reanbean.com.