Remember the song, “Three is a magic number,” from School House Rock? Yes, I was a child of the 80’s. Well three is a magic number in our household…sometimes. This summer my 4 year old fraternal twin boys have achieved what my 7 year old daughter has been waiting for her entire life: the ability to pretend play. And while it has had moments of sheer mommy bliss–with all three playing together nicely–the majority of their time together has not been successful. Screams of “I’M NOT YOUR FRIEND ANYMORE!” abound.
My daughter has learned that she can only really play well with one brother at a time–meaning someone is always left out. I have tried letting the three of them problem solve on their own, family meetings, and on-the-spot play intervention and facilitation with only glimmers of success. We have tried separation where one twin gets special mommy or daddy time and my daughter gets one-on-one time with a brother. This works once we get it started but all three kids view the initial separation as punishment.
To top it off, my daughter H and one twin, A, are very similar in interests and athletics and play well together. Recently, my twin E had his tonsils out. My daughter H felt so bad about it that she wanted to play with him, and only him, for days–causing a crisis for A, because he is usually the preferred playmate. E basked in the glow of sisterly love but was dumped as soon as he started feeling better. Breaks my heart.
Both boys idolize their big sister and I know she adores them as well. She loves to help them when we are out and about, swimming with one at a time at the pool; helping them climb at the park. They get along better outside of the house than in.
School has started, and they desperately miss each other as constant summer companions. The boys NEED their playtime with their big sister in a way I have never seen before. Big sister loves to play with them, but after a day of school, also needs some time by herself to decompress, leading to hurt feelings and misunderstandings. So, three is not quite the magic number in our house. How are you handling issues with twins plus an older or younger sibling?
Leslie H. is a stay at home mom to an amazing seven year old girl and two adventurous 4 year old boys.