Seeing Double at Twins Days in Twinsburg, OH

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Categories Activities, Fraternal, Identical, Multiples in the News, Parenting Twins, TravelTags 3 Comments

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Our family just arrived home from our second trip to the Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, OH. Last summer we attended a wedding in Philadelphia with our 9-month-old twins. We packed the car for a road trip from Chicago but had to divide our drive into a few days. Looking for a half-way point we saw Twinsburg, OH on the map and thought, “Hey, we should stay there, it’s a town named Twinsburg.” A quick Google search revealed Twins Days Festival, a record-setting gathering of twins from around the world which just happened to be the weekend we were driving through Ohio. We had to go. How could we pass it up?

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We enjoyed our first Twins Days experience so much, we decided before we even left Ohio we would try to go back every year. It is an experience unlike anything I have seen. The sense of community and camaraderie among twins from all over really is amazing. Among the many activities, our favorite has been the Double Take Parade, which encourages any and all twins to join in the themed parade. This year’s theme was Circus, a truly fitting theme for a gathering of twins. My boys were dressed as Human Cannonballs, with their wagon outfitted as a cannon. There are also lots of research studies for twin participation, and mingling with twins young and old. The youngest set there was 8 weeks, the oldest was 96 years old! There are lots of contests, carnival rides, food, and fun. Friday night is a Wiener Roast for twins and their families, Saturday night there are fireworks and Sunday morning is a pancake breakfast. For older twins there is a golf tournament, a 5K and lots more.

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So much I have read and heard since we were expecting twins focuses on the challenges: the high-risk pregnancy, the bleary-eyed, soul-crushing sleep deprivation, the expense, every-rough-patch-times-two. Dress them alike. Don’t dress them alike. Separate them in school. Keep them together. Everything I read seems to threaten all the ways I am destined to mess my kids up. Plus, as much as strangers are fascinated with and willing to offer up comments about twins, they are almost always negative. “You’ve got your hands full!” or “Double Trouble!” or “Better you than me!”

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It is easy to lose sight of how wonderful it can be raising twins. We have twice the giggles, twice the hugs. My boys are growing up spending every day with a best friend. I get to watch my two tiny infants as they grow into little boys. My boys are 21 months old, racing from milestone to milestone, growing noticeably each day. I wonder every single day how they can possibly be cuter than they were yesterday and how did I get so lucky to be here for the ride. The truth is that while my boys are fraternal and are very different, they were born a pair. Twins Days is such a unique celebration of twinship, I want my boys to grow up appreciating how truly special it is to be a twin. In Twinsburg for that one weekend a year, they can be among people who know what it’s like to go through life with a doppelganger, with a relationship unlike any other. They can be part of the community and celebrate being twins.

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My boys are often subject to lots of attention when we are out and about, and sometimes I feel like they are a spectacle. (I imagine it is nothing compared to identical twins or even triplets or quads!) I want them to feel proud that there are two of them, and love that they came into this world as a set. Twins Days Weekend is always the first weekend in August in Twinsburg, OH. For more photos and information about our trip, you can check out our rundown of our weekend as well as photos form this year and last. You can read more about the adventures of our family at goteamwood.com

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We attend the Twins Days Festival, and I fail to adequately twin it up

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Categories Activities, Behavior, Celebrations, Fraternal, Identical, Mommy Issues, Multiple Types, Other people, Parenting Twins, Relationships, SingletonsTags , , , , 14 Comments

I’ve found that I mentally separate moms of twins into two categories. On one hand are the TWIN MOMS, who are really into having twins. They wear the t-shirts, have the bumper stickers, their kids always match, etc. On the other hand are the twin moms. Lower case. They are the ones who were always too strapped for time and/or money to order the t-shirts. Bumper stickers aren’t necessary, because any clever messages can be traced in the dirt on the back of the minivan. If their kids match, it’s because the last load out of the dryer was reds and everyone pulled clothes from the laundry basket.

The Twins Days Festival is really geared toward TWIN MOMS and their offspring. I’m more of a twin mom. Lower case.

We attended at our twins’ request. As we pulled into the parking lot, my boys were excited to see sets of twins in matching outfits. Attendees had decorated their cars as well. “What’s so special about being twins?” my 8-year-old singleton grumbled.

Oh, that’s a fun one to answer at Twins Days.

As we entered the high school where registrations were being taken, I was overcome by a wave of emotion at the throngs of identically dressed twosomes and threesomes. I was excited for my boys. In our quest to treat twins as individuals, I think we often go overboard and treat them as though being a twin is somehow a weakness that needs to be hammered out of them. We frown at sets of twins with rhyming or alliterative names. We tsk-tsk parents who dress their twins alike. We want them in separate classes, with separate friends. It felt good to be in a place where all the pressure to prove I’m fostering their individuality is removed, and their sameness is accepted for what it is.

The sameness is not just accepted, but celebrated. It seems a lot of effort is put into looking identical at the Twins’ Days Festival. These twins all matched completely – haircuts, clothing, shoes, glasses, hairstyles, purses, jewelry, etc.

I’d made a terrible mistake. Two terrible mistakes, actually. First, my boys were not dressed exactly alike. (This is because I am a twin mom [lower case] and just felt proud that I had the same shirt in two different colors clean at the same time.) Second, my boys have very different haircuts, due to a series of unfortunate attempts at saving money on haircuts. (Lesson learned.)

My hope that the boys would be recognized as twins was washed away by a river of candied apple slobber.

There weren’t many sets of twins or trips whose parents had made my mistake(s). Or if there were, they blended in with all the other non-twins. I was asked if my older three were triplets. I was asked if Miss A and P were twins, when G was standing right there next to them. The boys were not obviously twinnish enough, and I felt like I’d short-changed them.

This event highlighted how very lower case I am.

For most of the evening my kids’ social anxiety kept them very calm and well behaved. I received compliments. But as the kids got more comfortable with their surroundings, things escalated until they were having a four-way chasing/wrestling/punching fight that resulted in multiple minor injuries. As the violence progressed, I thought, “If there’s any public place where this probably won’t be unusual, this is it.” Based on conversations with the moms of multiples I know in real life, face-punching is sort of twinspeak shorthand for “hi, how’s it going?” But the whole evening, I only saw one other set of twins punching each other in the face. I have no explanation for this.

So, Twins’ Days made me feel inadequate. It made my daughter feel jealous. But it made my boys feel fantastic. Don’t mock me, but I’ve shed tears over how much they liked being there, and how they clearly identified so closely with all of these other people who sprang to the earth paired with another. It was such a powerful experience that it made me want to convert to TWIN MOM. Whether we subject the whole family to the festival in the future, we’ll definitely take the boys back each year, for as long as they want to go.

My kids, before G shunned his older sister for having failed to split after fertilization.

Aside: I had the pleasure of meeting up with Kim Schmidt, a HDYDI reader and mother to an 8-year-old singleton and 3-year-old twins, all daughters. She’s writing about the Twinsburg festival for American Way magazine, and I hope she’ll let us link it here when the piece is published. She blogged a bit about the festival here.

Next year, HDYDI meet-up in Twinsburg, Ohio!

Jen is a work-from-home mom of 5-year-old twin boys, and two girls ages 3 and 8. She also blogs at Diagnosis: Urine, where she examines the finer points of potty training failure.

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