We’ve been home together for two weeks now and all of the sudden, I have twins. Where did that come from?
Obviously I’ve had twins for a while, and they have been twins all their lives. But suddenly they are acting not like squabbling siblings or like two babies but like twins. To the point where I have said things like, “OMG, YOU GUYS SHARED A WOMB, FIGURE OUT HOW TO PLAY WITH THE TRAINS.”
And I have flashbacks to the grocery store trips of my childhood where my mom would say we could get ice cream if you all can agree and I remember consciously thinking we would not be able to, because surely the twins would side together and they would pick something weird because they are old and they are boys but that was never how it went down. It would be me and one brother against the other one who would suddenly be offended at the mere existance of cookies and cream. Everybody likes cookies and cream; how can you oppose cookies and cream?!
Twins, dude. I’ve never been one. I probably have no right to speak on the topic.
As aggravating as the constant arguing is (and topics have included: Is that restaurant Wendy’s or “old McDonald’s?”, riding big bikes as opposed to little bikes despite having neither, and the classic “YES!” “NO!” with no topic at all), watching my twins become twins is something amazing. Part of it is developmental (cooperative play, I see you there!) but I think part of it has been born from finally having extended time to just be normal twins.
If I trace the history of their lives — and I have, with an Excel timeline! — it is painfully clear that for the majority of their early life, my twins were not together. I can’t speak for them but I can honestly say this has traumatized me to some extent. We have now been together as a family for over 700 days. For over 700 days, they have lived together and shared a room. For over 700 days, they have had each other.
That’s not enough.
Something has ramped up in the past two weeks and I know that in so many ways it likely coincides with their age. Three is a magical, crazy time. But for the first time, they also have a seemingly endless stretch of time to be twins. To be the only children in each other’s world, to exclusively have each other. These are things that would generally happen naturally to most twins, but for a significant part of their early lives, they did not have that connection. Even once we were together, we never got the extended time we needed to really settle in together as a family.
There is a general fascination with twins in the world, and I get it. Twins are cute, and there’s a sense of near-jealousy that I can only guess comes from wanting to be a twin or wanting to have twins for the cute factor. It’s like the outpouring of the little-girl wish to someday grow up and be a mommy to twins (was that just me? Anyone else?) All the inane comments about ~double trouble~ (no, double awesome). And all the assumptions based on no research but non-twin’s presuppositions that twins should be separated. As if the primary goal for twins was to untwin them as quickly and effectively as possible. Because they have to be independent, didn’t you know?
Let’s be clear: I have absolutely no concerns about my twins’ ability to play independently. They did it for the first year and a half of their lives. It is a survival skill learned too early and it served them well when it was needed.
But it is no longer needed.
The absolute last thing I want to teach my son or my daughter right now is how to be alone. They both know how to be alone. They learned it earlier than anyone ever should have to.
They do not need to learn how to be without each other because they are the closest family either one of them will ever have. Odds are they will both outlive me. They knew each other before I ever met them and they will have each other after I am gone. They will have each other after any of the other children in their social circle are gone.
Our spouses arrive comparatively late in our lives; our parents eventually leave us. Our siblings may be the only people we’ll ever know who truly qualify as partners for life. “Siblings,” says family sociologist Katherine Conger of the University of California, Davis, “are with us for the whole journey.”
I don’t want their separation encouraged, I want their bond encouraged and strengthened. They’re both free to do their own thing but they also need to be free to be twins together if that is what they choose. As the bystander to yet one more argument over the benefits of Wendy’s as opposed to McDonald’s, I am pretty comfortable with their current expressions of their personality. I don’t get emotional over one more screaming match about chicken nuggets.
I do get emotional when my girl who is more withdrawn in new situations marches up to a much older boy on the playground and yells that the toy is is looking at is “MY BROTHER’S! Don’t touch it!” (It was an echo microphone and I had told him he could play with it, so her righteous indignation, though impressive, was misplaced). When he invites her into his crazy imaginative games and they play for an hour sitting in diaper boxes. When he is upset and she is patting his back (often making him more upset, unfortunately) saying, “You okay. You okay, my brother.”
This is what I want. I want them to be twins, because they are. I want them to be uniquely bonded to one another and to be just a little bit exclusive. Because what they have is special, and no one else will ever share their unique experiences. No matter what they’ve been through or will face in the future, they will have each other.
Plus all three of us are a bit hypervigilant and kind of hermit-like. But we make it work.