Dragon Phoenix Twins

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“Are they Dragon Phoenix Twins?”  I am asked every day, everywhere, and by everyone around me in Chengdu. “Yes, they are,” I reply.

“Waaaaa” they exclaim with glee, and huge smiles, “You are very lucky. How happy you must be.”

Twins generate as much or dare I say more excitement here in China as anywhere else; in particular, the Dragon / Phoenix (boy/girl) combination. The ancient Chinese emperor was symbolised by a Dragon, and his wife by a Phoenix. And so since boy / girl twins have the honour of being called the Dragon and Phoenix, they are associated with being at the top of the hierarchy, the best outcome possible, and so the highest blessing.

Total strangers seem genuinely happy for me, and always remind me of the gift of having them. They smile, caress the children, and try to carry them. Almost without fail I am told: “how cute, what curly hair, and big eyes they have.”  This line sometimes reminds me of the scene where the wolf pretends he is Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother.

But I have yet to come across someone who is envious or jealous. This is amazing considering the One-Child Policy in China.

Quite the opposite in fact. People here associate twins with joy and luck to such a degree that almost no one seems to realise that at times raising two same-age babies can be tricky and tiring.

Our ayi (nanny ) once asked, “Isn’t it strange that out of all the people who stop to talk to you and the children, no one ever mentions how much work it must be to take care of them?!” This came up on a day when both L and R were sick and in need of extra attention. My husband was out of town for work.  Our ayi and I were exhausted and had to laugh at that thought.

Only once, a mum playing with her two year old son in the kids area of a neighbouring housing complex asked if I wasn’t exhausted taking care of two. Almost immediately the three mums around us responded for me: “It’s pure joy to have two, and especially if they are a Dragon and a Phoenix.”

Had my Chinese been better, I would have answered myself: True I complain at times because I am tired from lack of sleep, or irritated by L and R’s constant hair pulling, biting, snatching… But man am I happy to have my Dragon and Phoenix.

How would you have answered the mum in the park?

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Natasha Devalia

I am mum of twins Leila and Rahul. I recently moved to Koh Samui, Thailand (Jan 2013) with her children after spending 7 years in China. My husband travels back and forth for his work. I have started practicing my yoga more regularly again, and even teach a few classes a week, after a three year break. I blog at Our Little Yogis http://natashadevalia.com and at Multicultural Mothering http://multiculturalmothering.com

9 thoughts on “Dragon Phoenix Twins”

  1. I love this perspective on twins. In Canada, people usually talk to me about how much work it must be to have twins. But I like the Chinese perspective better. Sometimes I forget how lucky we are when I get caught up in the daily grind.

  2. I’m with Bea – only a very few times has someone commented that I’m lucky to have twins. I’ve gotten “How do you do it?” or “You’ve got your hands full” more times than I can count. I feel incredibly lucky to have twins. I think twins are special and wanted them ever since I was a little girl. When I told people I hoped for twins when I was trying to be pregnant, they would shake their heads and say, “You don’t want twins!” But I did, and absolutely love the whole twin experience. Sure, feeding around the clock (breast AND bottle!) was tough the first few months, but that never made me regret having them. My Dragon and Phoenix bring joy to our family every day.

  3. What an interesting perspective! Here the first thing we hear is “wow, that must be hard work” or “double trouble.” Thanks for the reminder our little ones (even if they aren’t a dragon and a phoenix) are a blessing, and a source of countless lessons.

  4. I must confess, at the begging of my pregnancy I wished to have a boy and a girl twins. Now that my girl is born I totally can see how having two can be very tiring but from the way I look at my daughter and love her so much…you probably feel it as twice as hard…that’s why you are so lucky!
    Larissa from Hottest Nail Colors for Summer 2011

  5. I think the reminder is good. Being reminded of the joy is important! I very often (VERY often) lose sight of that in my daily grind. And having two has (yes it HAS) prevented me from enjoying some simple things that a mom of singleton would take for granted. I have two 4 year old boys (and 9 year old boy). Example of this: on Saturday I was joining one in his coloring at the table. He loves to color and so do I!! His brother hates coloring. So I had probably 5 minutes coloring in peace with the one, whilst the other was off finding trouble and I had to dash off to the other part of the house to deal with him while abandoning the coloring. Its the divided attention that gets me every time. Focusing on just one is a luxury I do not have, 99% of the time. That’s the twin dynamic that’s so hard for non-twin parents to grasp.

  6. Thank you for sharing – it’s fascinating to learn how twins are viewed in other cultures. When my daughters, also twins, were a few months old we took them on their first apple picking adventure. They slept through the whole thing… anyway, there was a group of Asian tourists that were completely in awe of my girls. They even asked if they could take a picture of us! Now I understand a bit better where they were coming from. Take care!

  7. I have 2 1/2 year old twins a boy and a girl and am truly blessed to have my phoenix dragon twins. Along with their elder brother the hard work doesn’t faze me, its what we women do. We nurture, raise and teach our children, and that is another blessing in itself xoxo

  8. I’m glad I came across this. I’m a grad student and when my Chinese friends found out I was pregnant with Dragon Phoenix twins they were so excited and kept touching my arm for luck. They kept asking how I was so lucky because they wanted twins as well. Now that they are two months old I will send them pictures. One is job searching and loves the photos because they bring him luck :). It is tough taking care of two but having a different joyous perspective really helps.

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