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Technical difficulties prevented this post from being published on Sunday, October 10.

M and J are five years old. In all those years, neither of them has ever asked for time away from her sister. From time to time, they have chosen to pursue different activities with one parent or the other, but my husband and I have had to work hard to pry them away from one another. We didn’t give them the option of being in the same kindergarten class (a discussion for another day), and they made it abundantly clear that being split up was not their preference.

M is a talker, and always has been. She narrates the world around her, and has ever since she mastered the sign for “more” and the word “uh-oh”. I’m as extroverted as anyone I know, but even I tire of the constant avalanche of words and ideas. J doesn’t. J listens, and listens, and listens, and if she absolutely must make herself heard, she does. Don’t get me wrong. J is a huge talker too. She’s just better able to pick and choose between her thoughts to identify what she wants to share.

This afternoon, M told we that she was feeling strange. She couldn’t describe exactly how, but I suspected that she was coming down with the ugly cough that’s been plaguing J and my husband. Since he reported that a nap had helped him significantly earlier, I suggested that we have a mommy-daughter read-and-snuggle session. J picked up Enid Blyton’s Melody and the Enchanted Harp and M grabbed Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go. I grabbed the P.D. James novel I’d been snacking on, since I knew that any other of my current reads would have me reaching for a notebook and pen.

We curled up under our covers and settled down to reading. M elected to read out loud. She has a tendency to skip over unfamiliar multi-syllable words, so I haven’t done much with her to encourage silent reading. On practically every page, she had an editorial comment, on witty rhymes, silly words, or interesting ideas. She wished we could have towed our old neighbourhood to our current location so she wouldn’t have to miss our neighbouts. Were Hakken-Craks real? Having years of practice as mother of the terribly talkative twins under my belt, I am adept at carrying on a conversation with one or both of them while reading (or cooking or cleaning).

Halfway through the Dr. Seuss, J had had enough. “May you please read in your head?” she asked her sister. When M ignored her, she repeated her request, adding, “It’s annoying.” M read silently for a couple of pages before picking up her chatter again. J elected to let her be.

Perhaps I should have scolded J for calling her sister annoying. All I could think, though, was that this was a milestone. For the first time, one sister had expressed annoyance with the other. It wasn’t enough for J to want alone time, but I feel like we’re on the path there. It’s bittersweet. I’ve loved this extraordinary acceptance our daughters have of one other, knowing full well that the closer they are, the harder it’s going to be for them as they develop their distinctive interests and lives.

How old were your kids the first time they got on each other’s nerves? Did you/do you think it’s healthy?

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Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 10-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. They live in the Austin, TX suburbs, where Sadia works full time in information technology. She contributes to a number of parenting websites and magazines and also runs The Mommy Blogging Guide, where she answers mommy bloggers' technical questions.

4 thoughts on “Annoying”

  1. It’s interesting for me to read about twins like yours that have this bond. My boys (17 months) are annoyed with each other all.the.time. They constantly fight over toys or are jealous of each other. They scream and hit each other MANY times a day. (But they get over it so quickly and don’t hold grudges.) They are just beginning to have moments when they get along and play together. But so far, I don’t see any significant twin bond with my boys. I hope that over time they will become better friends.

  2. Wow, I’m amazed it took so long for them to be annoyed at each other. My girls are four. They’re very close, they rarely want to be separated. They share a room, they play togethher for most of every day. That being said, they also fight, push each other’s buttons, and get on each other’s nerves…every day. And it’s been that way since they were around a year old, when they first started playing together.

  3. My girls are 3.5 and I would say that voicing their annoyance with each other (specifically to the other one, not just tattling to me) started about six months ago. Honestly, I think it’s good. They voice it appropriately – “I don’t like it when you do that!” – and it’s something I want them to be able to do. We talk a lot about emotions in our house so it doesn’t surprise me!

  4. From the day they were born my boys have expressed when they were annoyed! They’re almost sixteen now and best buds. I believe that the ability to be honest and truthful (without being mean, of course) actually helps build a relationship.

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