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Hello, Future Employers of my Children

Hello, Future Employers of my Children

If you found this obscure corner of the internet decades into the future, congratulations!

Out of all the voices competing in my head for reasons I should second guess myself, there’s one that has never gotten much airtime until my finger hovered over the “publish” button. I was a teenager in the initial days of AOL popularity, back when people on the internet were assumed to be serial killers or 40 year old men pretending to be teen girls.

The majority of my time was spent on message boards for obscure religious fiction, however, and after you’ve spent two years discussing the plot twists and turns of Cheney Duvall, M.D., the likelihood of your conversational partners being deranged serial killers goes down pretty significantly. I’m not sure how many serial killers have bothered to not only read the whole series but acquire such in depth knowledge of Cheney and Shiloh’s relationship that they can write the equivalent of a scholarly article on the reasons they won’t end up together for at least two books.

Against all advice, I exchanged addresses and phone numbers with friends from these message boards, and our online friendships evolved into real life friendships, complete with real life visits. I’m grateful to say that many of the friends I met when I was sixteen and logging on to dial up Internet still continue to this day.

 

A lot has changed since then, and the division between “the Internet” and real life is mostly gone. We’re all using our real names now. Everything is online. I had vague “internet friends” in 1999; and I bought a house and legalized an adoption practically over email two decades later.

So in that sense I don’t fully understand the fear behind posting anything on the Internet – it’s a new(ish) forum, but it shouldn’t be any more damning than the rest of real life. I don’t fully understand worrying about my kids’ future employers googling them and finding, say, a blog post about finger painting. An employer that judges you based upon your activities at age two is probably not an employer for whom you want to work.

The part that does cause me hesitation is the foster care and adoption piece. In that area, my intention is to keep my commentary vague enough to protect their stories but also specific enough to actually say something.  I do have a strong sense, that is constantly in conflict with my need to second guess myself, that there are things I need to say. That our family has a story to tell even if the main gist of that story is hahaha, you thought you had to have your life together to be a foster parent?! That is the side I want to share — I feel like we lived under this shroud of foster care mystery and from the inside, it isn’t mysterious at all. It’s difficult, like worthwhile things are.

That’s the line I’m trying to walk right now. But if you’re here from the future because you Googled my kids prior to a job interview, I’d be happy to fill you in on why they would be awesome.

 

 

With that in mind…

 

Hello, Noah’s future boss. 

It’s nice to meet you. I’m sure you’ve met Noah, and I’m betting everyone else at your organization has also met Noah. As you likely know, he loves meeting people and is the definition of an extrovert. Hopefully by the time you read this letter, the introverts won’t have overthrown modern culture completely. We still need our extroverts! (I am one. I’m biased).

I am confident that you can see why your organization needs Noah. Employers are focusing increasingly on social and emotional skills and Noah is a master of all of these. He is astoundingly empathetic and attuned to the feelings of others. Noah will bring life and fun to your team. If you need a creative thinker, Noah is your man. He is always ready with a new idea and he excels and bringing others along with him in his ideas.

Noah is a quick learner and can make connections like nobody’s business. You could train an employee for a week on the specifics of their job or you could train Noah in a day on the vision of your company. Once he catches your vision, he will spread it. To everyone.

Noah’s experience is broad and includes past work in being a pirate, building a rocket ship to the moon, and various animal noises.

I can guarantee Noah will be an asset to your organization, and he’ll see you at the company picnic he just organized. It’s this Friday at 1:00 pm. You’re bringing a dessert to share.


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Hello, Noelle’s future boss. 

This letter seems futile because have you met Noelle? You’ll probably be working for her soon, if you aren’t already. Chances are you’ve already realized that once she sets her mind to something, nobody is going to stand in her way. She accomplishes what she wants to and she will without fail find the most efficient way to do it.

She is a perfectionist and will ensure that everything is done correctly. That’s a quality that everyone thinks they want until they see it in action, so please remember that her devotion to getting things just right is ultimately going to improve your organization. She won’t stand for less.

As a toddler, Noelle enjoyed playing baby dolls and pretending to cook. I trust that these skills will be an asset in the workplace. She has extensive experience in rocking and tucking in stuffed animals. She is also resourceful; if a blanket cannot be found she is able to substitute a tissue or wet wipe without missing a beat.

I trust you will enjoy working for Noelle, because that’s what you’ll be doing pretty soon.

 

 

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Please Stop Untwinning My Twins

Please Stop Untwinning My Twins

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.

 

Boy/girl twins on a seesaw.

 

 

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.

It’s Very Far Away

It’s Very Far Away

Probably the main thing I loathe about our current lives is the busyness that we live with every week. It is too much, much too much. I want the endless days of my childhood for you, but more often it feels like our days are endless in a completely opposite way.

Except lately. Lately, we’ve had time.

Today you floated in the pool on a quest for peanut butter pizza. I didn’t fully understand it then and I don’t fully understand it now. I heard it was “very far away” and that you had “two hours of stuff.” I know you “had to find the peanut butter pizza” and that you stopped to eat some (pretend) raspberries. I know that this whole endless adventure unfolded over such a great distance and such a long time and yet you never moved very far at all, together on the punching-bag-turned-pool-float, occasionally drifting around in a circle.

You took me back with you. Through the fog of decades, I could look at you and I remember the summer afternoons where time faded away and I entered a state of play where it felt like I had truly gone somewhere. To lean your face on the hot plastic of a pool float and twirl around in a circle in a $7 wading pool and cross oceans.

I never tire of watching your imaginative play but this one hit me harder than most because while I have been thrilled and intrigued to watch your games lengthen, this one felt different. I think you felt you’d been there, too, wherever there is. The land of peanut butter pizza and raspberries and two hours of stuff. Where time slows down like a dream, and you can live a whole sea voyage in five minutes because no one is ruining it by telling you that you only have five minutes.