People always ask if my 7-month-old boys are aware of each other. I think they are imagining cute conversations, sharing toys, or indications that they miss each other when apart. (None of that happens.) In reality, I’m struck by how UNaware they are of each other – they occupy the same space without appearing to know it’s another person there beside them.
Granted, seven-month-old folks don’t have much of a sense of personal space to begin with, but my boys seem to have no barrier between themselves whatsoever. Like little magnets, they tend to gravitate into the same 6 inches of space. They’ll snatch toys, gnaw on the same thing at the same time, climb over each other, and chew on each other’s hands and feet. They are really interested in faces, and will grab ears, eyes, and noses.
Sometimes it’s really sweet. M is getting some fuzzy hair on top, which R loves to stroke. Other times I cringe at the force they use, but the recipient doesn’t seem to mind or even notice. And then there are the times when R grabs M’s face in order to pull up to standing, or M kicks R in the head while I’m trying to give them both a bottle. The resulting cry is indignant, hurt, or angry. I’m just starting to see a bit of jealousy when one is closer to me – the other starts to fuss and scramble up Mount Mom and before you know it, I’m on the bottom of the sobbing dog pile.
When I see these interactions, I feel like I’m looking into the future. Siblings generally have very physical relationships; I do with my brother and sister. Two active boys, equally matched in size and energy, are sure to even more so. How do I want to respond to their physical interactions when they are toddlers, young children, teens? How can I encourage them to be gentle and respectful when they play?
Like all things twinny, it’s an added dimension to navigate. I’ve got to attend to the sibling relationship at the same time as I figure out how to be a mom. How much should I intervene vs let them work it out for themselves? Will they be just like any brothers, who happen to be on par developmentally? Or is there something to growing in the same womb that makes them comfortable sharing space in a way that I just can’t understand?
I’d like to implement a policy of “if it doesn’t bother them, it shouldn’t bother me” (unless it’s clearly dangerous, of course). If they are content to suck on each other’s fingers (ew. ew ew ew), then I let them. And honestly, most of their interactions fall into this category. But when it does hurt, I redirect the offender to another location or a toy and comfort the hurt one. Later on, redirection will be replaced by warnings, time outs, and apologies – and lots of practice communicating their own boundaries. Of course, making sure they do have space (even when they don’t know how to ask for it) is an important part of getting along for all siblings.
There are all my “best-laid plans!” I’m sure I’ll get a few curveballs from my guys anyway. How do you involve yourself in your twins’ interactions?