It was 2008. I was cutting 2-year-old M’s nails. (She was 25 months old, if you seek precision.)
M: Mommy cut my nee-uls. Me: Yes, I’m cutting your nails. M: Mama cut my toe. Me: Yep. M:(pointing to her knee) Mama cut my knee? Me: No honey. Your knee doesn’t have nails. M: Why?
When a child between two and four keeps asking “Why?”, it’s definitely not to annoy you. It’s often not even to understand the causes of things, although they are certainly starting to understand the concept of cause and effect.
Your child asks “Why?” to indicate interest in the topic at hand.
M didn’t need me to explain to her narrowly why her knee was without nails. Instead, she was interested in me talking about the distinct purposes of the different parts of her body. I could show her how similarly her knee and elbow bent, allowing her to move around. I could explain why her nails and hair grew and needed trimming while other parts of her did not. I could point out the similarities and differences between her fingers and toes. I could compare her dimpled toddler hand to my lean vein-ridden grownup hand.
By hearing what my daughter was trying to ask, instead of what she did ask, we were able to embark on a wonderful educational discussion. It all started with the simple word “Why”.
Once I realized what “Why” meant, I didn’t hear it repeated any more. The girls were satisfied with my first answer, because I was responding to their request for more information instead of giving a quick cause-and-effect brush-off.
Has your child reached or gone through the “Why?” phase yet?
I was not a person who had a lot of experience with babies before having my own. I actually am fairly certain that the first diaper I ever changed was one of my own babies’ in the hospital. I didn’t know the distinction between newborns and infants, googled the difference between infants and toddlers, and I’m sure someday I’ll be confused by what makes a “tween.”
Our twins are now nearly 21 months old and we still refer to them as “the babies.” A quick Wikipedia search tells me that a child becomes a toddler when they’re between the ages of one and three. Our experience of crossing over into Toddlerville has been a sensory one. Let’s focus on three of those senses today.
I’d love for someone to keep tabs on how many times in one week my husband or I say, “I can’t hear you.” This is stated while one or the other is talking and is inevitably interrupted by one of our kids shouting, grunting or whining to communicate what it is they want. They do have a few words in their arsenal (I use the collective “their,” because they seem to say words for the first time at the same time!) but they seem to first try shouting at us or each other.
Ironically, one of the things we made a point of, pre-children, was making the effort in our house to walk to where the other person was to talk, rather than shouting room to room when we were going about our business in our house. It’s like our kids knew this courtesy that we had for each other, and squashed it in those cute, chubby hands on purpose. Their caveman communication seemed to evolve over time, but in retrospect, is markedly different than the distinctly infant coos.
Sight can be broken down into two categories. First, what our kids can now observe. Back in those hazy infant days, I could eat a rice krispie treat while my kids ate dinner, with them none the wiser. Nowadays, if they see me do that, the aforementioned shouting/whining begins until each has a rice krispie treat in hand. (My husband makes the BEST treats, and they’re around regularly!) Hence, we’ve noticed modeling appropriate behavior (like, not eating dessert first??) has become more important.
Secondly, what I see in my kids’ behavior. One example coming to mind: getting the bath ready, changing poopy diaper of boy toddler, while I watch my daughter take my kindle, run into the bathroom, and chuck it into the filling bathtub. I could give countless examples of seeing the mischief these two are already getting into. But, it’s also seeing their faces light up as they discover new things, like the birds using the birdhouse on our porch, now that spring is finally returning.
I looked at a photo the other day from the infant days and noticed I had big picture frames on a low shelf in our house. Doesn’t that sound luxuriously decorative? These toddlers want to touch everything! In fact, I would say that the times I feel most frantic as a mom of twin toddlers is when they’re both into EVERYTHING at the same time-one might be emptying out the contents of the nightstand next to our bed, while the other is pulling toilet paper off the roll. One time I was attempting to put laundry away in the same room as them and my son ran into the room and jumped in front of me, with a tampon in one hand and scissors in the other, so proud of his discoveries. Mind you, drawers that contain these things have child locks on them, which brings us back to sight, and them watching how to undo the locks.
Not quite as simple as Wikipedia’s definition, but a bit more fun to reflect on.
Katie is a working mother of 20-month-old b/g twins, eating too many rice krispie treats and loving introducing them to her kids, even when that bites her in the bum.
My identical twin daughters, age nearly 9, are going through a major relationship realignment. They’ve always been very twinny twins, much to my initial surprise. They still sleep in the same bed, despite nominally having separate ones. They’ve asked to be in the same classroom for the past two years and foreseeable future. They identify as twins above all.
Don’t get me wrong. They’ve always had their unique personalities and interests. M is the chatterbox. J is a talker, but she has moments of thoughtful reflection. M doesn’t. M prides herself on being a mathematician and loves to perform feats of mental mathematics for fun. J likes math too, but prefers mathematical concepts to hard numbers. J is enormously protective of her sister, I suspect at least in part because of her frontonasal dysplasia, whereas M is surprised on the rare occasion that J’s feelings are hurt. M is cautious, while J is my risk-taker.
They both love to read and are intensely social. They both have fabulous senses of humour and a love of wordplay. They’re both smart and insightful and self-righteous and persistent and messy and forgetful and my favourite people in the entire world.
For the past 9 years, I have been taking my children to church. Just over two years ago, they chose the church to attend, and thereby their own denomination too. They’ve attended the Kids’ Kingdom Sunday school program and developed deep friendships. They both feel very much at home there.
Or rather, they both felt very much at home there.
This week, M informed me that she is atheist. She’s been thinking about her beliefs for about 6 months, starting during the period during which we were apart. She is very much at peace with her choice. Her biggest concern was how to break the news to her sister. I told M that as long as she was honest and respectful of both J’s feelings and beliefs, it would be okay.
That same night, with very little fanfare, M decided that she was too hot and wanted to sleep alone. J wanted snuggles and crawled into my bed. For the first time that I can remember, M slept in a room alone. J has done so before, but never M. She’s growing up and growing independent. It struck me that with that small step and the much larger faith decision, M is started to tread her own path, not in active contrast to her sister, as she’s done with math, but spontaneously, organically, and age-appropriately.
J took the news of M’s atheism surprisingly well. When I asked if she wanted to talk to me about how she was feeling, J retorted that I wouldn’t understand. I reminded her of the church community members who would understand and would be available for her to talk to. She said she would call them after she’d had some time to think.
And so it begins, the gentle individuation of my monozygotic daughters. I had feared that this tearing apart would wait until the teenage years, when my daughters will additionally be forging identities separate from me and the family unit. Perhaps this will make the teenage years a little less terror-inspiring? Or at least only as terrifying as that of their singleton peers?
Have your multiples been independent from the start? Or has their inter-dependency evolved over time?
My twins turned two years old two weeks ago. With the hustle and bustle of Halloween then Thanksgiving, I hadn’t realized until the other day when I turned their carseats to forward-facing that my babies are really growing up.
Years ago, right before Big Sis turned one, my husband came home one day to find me looking through her photographs and bawling. I couldn’t believe my baby was becoming a toddler. But now my days are so consumed with the constant exhaustion of 3 kids that I rarely have time to reminisce. And if I do get the chance to think about anything, it’s how nice it would be when they’re all older and we wouldn’t have to deal with tantrums or nap schedules anymore. How great would it be to have a family vacation somewhere far-ish?
But once in a while, like when the twins’ rear-facing carseats flanking Big Sis’s center forward-facing seat became just like hers, it dawns on me that we’ve passed yet another stage of their babyhood. Never again will I see those little faces looking at me through the mirrors hanging from the headrests. Never again will my babies happily throw their chubby little feet towards their sister to be tickled. Thinking about that is kind of worth bawling over.
That’s not to say, however, that forward-facing seats are bad. There is more space between the front seats and second row for the also-growing-bigger Big Sis to get to her seat without having to crouch and squeeze. There are fewer crevices in which crumbs and other nasty stuff can get trapped between the carseats and the car. I actually have access to the front seatback pockets without obstruction. The twins can (and sometimes do) climb into their seats by themselves. And they are really enjoying their increased visibility (how exciting it’s been to drive after dark and hear all 3 of them marvel at the Christmas lights passing by)! I’m glad we’ve graduated to forward-facing seats.
And yet… it’s bittersweet. Every milestone is a triumph tinged with sadness.
When the twins were about 15 or 16 months old, I started noticing what looked like bite marks on Baby Boy’s hands. It was an anomaly, as no one had observed him biting himself or being bitten. For a bit I actually thought they were self-inflicted in a temper tantrum, or maybe it was an experiment to leave marks on himself. It wasn’t until I saw a mark at the wrong angle to be self-inflicted that I began to suspect Baby Girl of biting her brother.
Strangely, it wasn’t for another while before we actually caught them in the act. And then Baby Girl began to get these markings too. They were really good about doing it quickly when no one was watching though.
But by now, 5 or 6 months later, we’ve had the chance to see them at it many times. They’re still pretty stealthy about it, but we now know what to watch for: a certain prolonged guttural screech, usually coming from both parties in a fight over something, and then a quick lean-over by one, a pause of silence while the pain registers, and finally the extended agonizing cry of the other.
The problem is when they play in close proximity. And of course that’s how they almost always play. If they are confined in the same room for a while, that’s when the conflicts arise. They get cranky and will start fighting over toys and space. Big Sis actually got caught up in it for the first time this past weekend. We can’t really be sure what happened, but according to her she was trying to play with her brother when sister came and bit her, hard enough to leave a bruise. We think Baby Girl was trying to play with brother. There wasn’t much warning, and they did all this while both myself and their dad were in the same room!
Now I really don’t think my kids are malicious. I’ve watched them bite and get bitten and then go back to playing alongside each other like nothing happened. In fact, after Baby Girl noticed her sister crying after being bitten, she went to comfort her by rubbing her arm and giving her a hug and kiss. (Big Sis was just as loving, forgiving immediately and defending her little sister from our scoldings.) They just get caught in the moment and that is their only form of communication when screaming doesn’t work.
However, the bites are getting more vicious, and they’re no longer on the hands but on the upper arms. And now they’ve bitten someone other than themselves.
Should I be concerned? Is this something that they will grow out of? Is this a twin thing? I certainly wouldn’t want them to be that kid in preschool, the one who bites. We’re at a loss as to what to do, but they seem to be getting over the bites very easily. It doesn’t even faze them that their arms are all bruised up for days, but we are really just baffled at and bothered by this behavior.
Any MoM’s out there who can help us out?
lunchldyd is mom to 21mo biting b/g twins, and their 4yo sister who never bit.
Having a set of b/g twins 2.5 years after their sister puts me in a position to be able to compare and contrast the experiences of having twins and having a singleton– really having twins vs having two singletons. Now that the twins are 19 months old and Big Sis is 4, I feel I’ve gotten enough under my belt to do a little analysis. (Of course, everyone’s situation will vary, and all experiences depend highly on the temperament of each child as well as the character of each household, but I do find that there are some definite differences).
Developmentally, I’ve got two kids doing the same thing. They generally play the same way, eat the same things, like the same places. They are in the same age group in any classes for which I’d sign them up, and very soon they would be able to play with each other. It’s one drop off and one pick up for both kids to grandma’s, and to preschool/school later on. At least until they’re old enough to pick their own separate activities, they’d be doing most things together. Big Sis will always be 2.5 years older, which means they would rarely be doing or liking the same things.
Two kids at the same age also means they’re more or less on the same schedule. There may be days when their naps are off, or even weeks during transitions when one does something that the other doesn’t yet. But even accounting for those differences, I consider them a unit for eating and sleeping. Big Sis has a different naptime and bedtime from her siblings; and actually she doesn’t even get to nap anymore because of the scheduling difficulties, even though she really could.
It’s a given that children cost a lot, but I think twins come with some economies of scale (assuming the comparison is between twins and two singletons). I get to buy many things in bulk, and sometimes I can even get a twin discount on stuff. But having twins over singletons is more of a time saver than anything else. Making two bottles at once only takes slightly more time than making one bottle, when I change one child I usually just change the other– almost everything we do takes less time than doing them with two children of different ages.
They have each other. They get to grow up together, learn together, support each other, and never be lacking a sidekick because their twin will always be there. Older/younger siblings do a lot of things together too, but it’s just not the same, at least not until they’re adults.
And the BAD…
“Double Trouble” is true! It was actually easier when they were infants, when as long as I figured out how to feed them simultaneously, they were happy. There was a rough patch getting them on the same sleep schedule, but after that it was pretty good going until they became toddlers. Now, sometimes there are just not enough hands (or eyes). Example: toddlers on the move in the park. One was making a beeline for some stairs, while the other was attempting to topple a large trash can. Big Sis required minimal supervision, as she had found some little friends to play with.
The twins are also much more aggressive than their sister ever was. They are much more vocal in what they want, and will fight, even bite each other! They egg each other on when they’re misbehaving. “Group mentality” perhaps. One climbs on top of the play kitchen, and the other will climb it too. One screams and throws food, other other ups that by tossing a sippy cup too. Alone, perhaps they would not dare. Singletons just don’t get away with as much.
Activities for twins are difficult when there is only one adult. At least at my twins’ age, everything is much easier when the ratio is 1:1, or even 2:3 when including Big Sis. One adult to a set of twin toddlers is sometimes impossible (as in the case of Parent and Me swim class), but even when possible, it can get very stressful and overwhelming (Mommy and Me classes). Even if different-aged children are in an activity together, they would not need the same kind of attention at exactly the same time.
lunchldyd is a high school teacher on summer break in the Los Angeles area. She wonders how this comparison will change as her kids get older.
My daughter J is the snugglier of my twins. She’s sought tactile comfort more than M starting at a few months old. She’s always had two lovies, a simple flannel blanket with a satiny border named Purple Blankie and a little bear blanket named Green Bee. Never mind that Purple Blankie has no more purple in than green, yellow or blue.
On our move to El Paso 3 years ago, Green Bee got lost. I waited it out for a while, hoping that J would realize she didn’t need her lovey any more, but she begged for a replacement every day. After several months, when Daddy announced our divorce, I decided that this was not the time to break my child of her comfort objects. Enter Fuzzy.
About a month ago, I noticed that Purple Blankie and Fuzzy haven’t been appearing in bed. In fact, I’m not quite sure where Fuzzy is, and Purple Blankie is hanging out in J’s stuffed toy box.
It may have taken nearly 8 years, but J seems to be growing out of the need for comfort objects. Maybe this explains her anger of late. She may be working on new ways to channel her stress.
Do your little ones have comfort objects or loveys?
Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, but now also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.
My daughters turn 8 next month. There is no question that they are big kids.
When they were infants and toddlers, I looked out for the milestones that would indicate their growing: rolling over, sitting, pulling up, walking, talking. I knew that they would do these things on their own schedule. I rejoiced for each one, even as it brought me closer to the day that my girls would leave to me embark on their own independent lives.
Now they are schoolchildren, it feels like the milestones M and J are reaching are externally scheduled. Sure, they’ve lost teeth at their bodies’ whim, but progressing from one grade to another, their increasingly complex dance recital performances, academic accomplishments… all these markers are scheduled on the calendar.
Now, when I discover something that shows me that one child or another is growing up, it’s unexpected and still as bittersweet as those early milestones.
Take bath time, for example. My daughters have been washing their own hair and bodies for a while now. They still need me to squeeze out the shampoo and bath soap, but they can take it from there. They like me out of the bathroom while they’re bathing so they can play a game titled Ocean Water Girls with their Barbies.
Earlier this week, I went into the bathroom to get my daughters out of the bath and discovered that M had gotten out by herself, dried herself off and put on her bathrobe. I didn’t make a big deal of it, just saying, “Nice job drying your [waist-length] hair.” She responded with, “I think I prefer this. Sometimes you dry me too rough and sometimes you dry me too gentle and leave me soggy.” There’s something about the idea of a soggy M, that most precise and perfectionist of children, that warms my soul.
Last night, I found her trying to cut her own fingernails. She hadn’t quite mastered it, so I took over with her blessing, but I thanked her for trying. “It feels more private,” she told me, “to do this stuff.” I told her I completely understood and that she should feel free to whatever self-care tasks she felt like handling.
J still wants me to dry her off after bath and cut her nails. She’s my physical touch love language speaker, after all. However, she does little things to show me that she’s growing up too. For example, she mentioned in passing that two friends had their birthday parties at the same time last weekend. She and M decided which one they wanted to go to and didn’t even bother me telling me about the one they’d miss. I let J know that she still needed to give me such invitations, since a “No” RSVP was at least as important as a “Yes.” She understood, but it struck me that not long ago, my daughters would have come to me for help in deciding between the parties or just handed the invitations over without recognizing the conflict.
J is no terrible hurry to grow up and is farther behind on her self-care milestones. As she told me last night before nodding off, “I’m glad I have a lot of years until I’m 17. I don’t know where I want to go to college yet.”
You have plenty of time, little one.
Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.
What could be cuter than the mispronunciations of toddlers?
My firstborn has always been a very verbal child. I’d consider her speech now at almost 4 to be distinct and clear, but it was so even when she first began to talk. Rarely did we not understand what she was saying, but that doesn’t mean some of her pronunciation wasn’t adorably incorrect.
Some of her first mispronunciations were not so much mispronunciations but made up words. She consistently used her own word for the purple yams my mom would bake for her that she loved so much. I don’t remember the word anymore, but it was a completely non-sensical word that sounded nothing like “yams” in Mandarin. I think she did the same for the word “hair.”
Another one of her first words was “budget.” No, not the one involving money, but this is what she called her beloved blanket for the longest time. She actually hung on to this pronunciation way after she knew how to correctly say it, I think probably because she sensed we enjoyed it so much! To this day, we still bring it up and laugh about it.
Many of these mispronunciations were so short-lived, though, that by the time I wanted to write them down, she was already pronouncing them correctly. I wish I had been able to get all of them, but we only have a few of the most memorable ones in English: some-ting (something), lolly-pot (lollipop), poof-rints (footprints), hostiple (hospital), weally/wite (really/right), lub (love), fay-bwet (favorite), sawsee (sorry), pick-mick (picnic), catta-pitta (caterpillar), gir-lull (girl), squir-lull nuts (acorns).
And her numbers were particularly charming, especially when they were out of order: “One, two, dwee, five, se-ben.” I fondly remember her favorite game at age 2: hide-and-seek with Daddy. She would count to 10 in her out-of-order way, then say, “Ready not, here come!” (And she would promptly forget whether she was the hider or seeker, so they would often both be running around looking for the other, or both be quietly hiding. Hilarious!)
To all you new parents out there, record record record! Get as much video of your cute kiddos jabbering on, because there will come a day (when your preschooler is arguing with you in fully formed sentences) you will look back on them as your most treasured memories.
lunchldydis mom to 3 3/4 yo daughter and 15 mo b/g twins. As a busy high school teacher and mom of 3, she is constantly reminding herself to take her own advice.
When I was browsing the lovely photos on MathiasQuads.org yesterday for this morning’s post, my daughter M took great care to read the names in each photo caption. She wanted to be sure to match each face to the right name. As an identical multiple herself, she understood how important it was to see Mary Claire, Anna, Grace and Emily as individuals.
M, aged 7, observed that they were rarely in the same order between photos.
M: There’s 16 ways for them to be lined up. Me: How did you figure that out? M: Because there’s 4 sisters and 4 spots and 4 times 4 is 16. Me: That’s a very good deduction, my mathematician girl, but it’s actually 24. Can I show you how?
Is 7 a little young for combinatorics? Sure, but M showed an interest in it, so I dug back into my 8th grade math memories. I drew her a picture to show her how to think of permutations. She picked the colours for each sister.
Me: There are 4 sisters who can go in the first spot. I’m just going to draw one of them. Once she’s in her place, there are only 3 sisters left to go second. M: Then 2, then 1! Me: Exactly. So there are 6 orders available for each sister who goes in the first spot. M: And 6 times 4 is 12 and 12 is 24. Me: Which is also 4 times 3 times 2 times 1. M: Well, that was easy.
We’ll probably chat about combinations tonight during bath time.
I’ve always taken this approach to educating my daughters. If one or both of them is interested in something that illustrates a larger pattern or important skill, I explain it to them at a level that is pertinent, interesting, and within their abilities. Later on, when they’re more intellectually mature, I’ll come back to it. In a couple of years, I’ll show M how to use factorial notation.
My teacher friend Kaylan tells me that the eduspeak term for this is “spiral learning.”
What sparks your child’s interest? What’s your approach to teaching?
Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.