Twin Thoughts

May 10, 2010 at 10:02 pm (AJ, PJ, Twins) ()

I often seem to have one child I’m worrying about more than the others, or concentrating on.  For quite a while, that’s been Greta, with the tantrums and the potty needs and the speech-learning and the “No Mama”s that she directs at everybody when I’m around.  “No Mama” not as in telling me no, but as in telling her dad, “No way am I going to let you put my shoes on when I can see Mama is over there peacefully drinking her coffee.”  But as we approach the boys’ 6th birthday, I’ve been reflecting on their lives.  I wrote a speech about twins for Toastmasters last year (a geeky club, but I enjoyed it).  It still sums up our twin experience nicely- remember as you read it that it was originally a speech- I didn’t edit it (much):

happily riding an orca whale

Far and away for the last half decade, what have I spent most of my time on, experiencing, talking about, researching? Twins.

Many of you know I have fraternal twin boys named Auden and Parker, who are turning 5 next week.

Not only have been on the front lines of dealing with the ups and downs of twins, but I’ve been involved in 3 twin clubs and led a weekly support group for parents of newborn twins.

When you have twins, people that have raised twins, or are a twin, or have a second cousin that’s a twin tend to come out of the woodwork at the grocery store.

Why is that? Certainly, even though the twin rate is up to 3% of all births, there’s a novelty factor. But it’s more than that. People imagine that having a twin would be a special thing. And it is. So that’s what I thought I’d talk about today. What it’s like to actually be a twin.

90/365 Tire swinging is one of the big draws for G&G's house

There are some positives and some negatives. Of course, I’m not a twin, so I started by conducting a short interview of my boys. Separately, so as not to interfere with results.

“Parker, do you like having a twin?”
“Yes.”

“What’s the best part about having a twin?”
“Playing with him.”

Benefit number one of having a twin: always always having somebody around to play with. One of them recently told me how sorry he felt for one of his friends that didn’t have a twin. The friend has a brother, but siblings have other activities; are at a different development level. Even at 5, Parker recognizes he’s lucky. They’ve never had to go to sleep alone. They’ve recently taken to sleeping in the same bed again, talking about Star Wars until they fall asleep.

Benefit number two of having a twin: And this one mainly applies to the majority of twins who are the same sex and about the same size. I once asked identical twin friends, grown adult men, when I should expect to have to differentiate their clothing. I figured eventually they’d want a separate dresser and initials in their T-shirts. I couldn’t really get a straight answer out of my friend. I later mentioned it to his twin’s wife and figured out why. They live in different states, have wives and kids. But when they visit each other, which is often, they STILL share clothes, even underwear! They don’t pack a bag! I just could not believe it at first! Both then really, whatever residual sweat is in those clean gym socks is the same DNA as the other guy’s, so why would it matter?

Besides clothes, growing up with a twin, there is usually a back up of anything that breaks or gets worn out. People give each of you a new truck, or new T-shirts, but often only one twin likes it. So that person has two.

The last benefit I’ll share about having a twin is having a lifelong support system. As adults, twins tend to remain close and have more contact then average siblings. A large population study in the British Medical Journal found that twins have a substantially lower suicide rate. Presumably it’s due to always having sometime to talk to and rely on.

Look at that

“Now, Auden, do you like having a twin?”
“No.”

“What is it that you don’t like about having a twin?”
“Fighting Parker.”

This brings me to the biggest drawback to having a twin. And believe me, as a parent, I deal with it their -every- -waking- -hour. As I mentioned, growing up, your twin is around you -all- -the- -time. That means, you have to fight for what’s yours and stake your territory -all- -the- -time. We actually saw, on an ultrasound, Parker hitting his Auden on the head. Around two, they went through a biting phase. I remember taking them to swimming lessons and worrying what people would think about the bruises on their bodies from their brother. I stopped worrying as much when a mom with four kids saw a bite mark on Parker. Instead of acting horrified, she asked him, “Now what did you do to your brother to make him bite you like that?”

A second drawback of having a twin is that people will always compare you to him. Auden crawled and walked well within the normal range, but since it was a month behind Parker each time, it was hard not to think of him as “late”. As a mom I’m pretty sensitive about comparing them within earshot. Others aren’t so tactful. Even Auden and Parker themselves hold themselves to the same standard as whatever their brother can do. When they were learning to ride bikes, one boy always seemed to be having a better day right off the bat. As soon as that boy took off down the Burke Gilman with Dad, whichever boy was behind got dejected about it and eventually gave up for the day. I had several outings where I sat on the side of the trail with one boy, waiting for Dad and the other boy to get tired and come back. Eventually they both figured it out and usually ride together peacefully.

The last drawback of having a twin, is that to a lot of people, your name isn’t Auden, or Parker, it’s AudenandParker. Normally sensitive people forget who is who, and lump you together. This isn’t too big of an issue for my boys. Auden has brown eyes, brown hair, and olive skin, and Parker has blue eyes, blonde hair, and fair skin. But still, people do confuse them. And I was asked by plenty of people even up to about two years old, “Are they starting to develop different personalities?” They had different personalities before birth!

I’m hoping that some of these negatives turn into positives. The constant fighting should make them great negotiators. The comparisons and insensitive comments should help them to think about what they say about others. Overall, I think having a constant sidekick is a pretty cool thing for both my sons, despite what Auden said at the particular time I asked him. I am grateful that after I’m gone, they’ll still have each other. I think how they feel about each other can be summed up by something I heard one say to the other from the back of the mini van one day when they were three. “You my best friend. But sometimes… you not my best friend.”

56/365 Boardwalk

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Alternative Christmas tree decorations

December 5, 2009 at 12:34 am (AJ, PJ) (, )

As soon as we got home from my parents after Thanksgiving, Parker started up the begging to put up the Christmas tree.  Last year we succumbed and bought an artificial tree.  I don’t know if it’s really better for the environment or not- we’re not cutting down a tree every year, but eventually it will end up in a landfill instead of composted.  At any rate, the current minus is lack of evergreen smell, but the current plus is you can keep it up Black Friday to January 10th or so.
This year I wasn’t in any hurry to put it up, but I knew it would be sooner than later.  What I told Parker was, “As soon as I catch up on laundry and dishes and pick up the family room, we can put it up.” Which I knew I’d have to go back on, because that would mean it would go up next October.  Soon afterwards, I noticed Parker, up on a stool at the sink.  “How do I do this again?” he asked.  So, he scrubbed a few pots, and I decided Why not?
After the tree was up, though, I hit a snag. I could not locate the box of ornaments anywhere in the garage.  They’ve “gotta be somewhere” as Auden likes to say, but I haven’t found them yet.  Never fear, creative kids to the rescue.  They did this Monday morning before I was even downstairs.

Alternative Christmas ornaments
Our tree is now an eagle-kitty cat-Bakugan-scorpian-semi-truck-Clone Trooper-hammerhead shark-trap door spider-themed tree.  In other words, Perfect.  For us JaRuuds, that is.  I’m sure not for your family.

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In other news, I’ve been feeling much better. All my pregnancy symptoms ceased so suddenly that I was getting worried, but it’s been almost two weeks, so I guess all is well in there. Currently the only things making me nauseous are turkey, gingerbread, and peanut butter. The latter is truly unfortunate as my kids demand it at least once or twice a day. Maybe it’s time for them to branch out nutritionally. Currently I’m scrubbing Greta’s face and hands down with citrus soap after lunch so I can stand to lay down with her to start her nap. Overall, though, I don’t have much to complain about. Except how crappy the options are for VBACs. But that’s a topic for another day.

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A boy’s bunk = diary of a five old (if it was written by his mama, that is)

October 21, 2009 at 2:38 pm (AJ) ()

On Sunday I was invited to take a tour.  The proprietor offered me a free ticket, and said he’d put my name on “the list” for a private viewing, so I went.  On up to Auden’s bunk.

Here is my tour guide.

Top bunk tour guide 

Like any good tourist, I brought my camera.  Like any friend of a tourist, you may not find the recitation of the trip as exciting as I did.  But something about Auden’s bunk is so HIM; I just have to document it.

Do you remember back when you weren’t big enough to fill a whole twin bed?  And the rest of the space could be used as storage?  I have vague recollections I kept precious treasures in my bed, but not to this extent.  Until I took this tour, I knew he had a lot of stuff of up there, but I hadn’t appreciated its organization or just how much there was.

Auden shares a room with his twin.  His bunk is the only space that is his, and his alone.  When we got them bunk beds a few years ago, I decided not to allow for any top bunk/bottom bunk squabbling.  I assigned Auden to the top bunk, Parker to the lower, and set up the bed with their pillows and blankets while they were out.  [btw, highly recommend on the bunk beds spacewise and fortwise]

I knew Auden would have a greater need for his own space.  With Parker, wherever he is, that’s his space.  To Parker at least.  Simple.  A squirmy, cuddling extrovert, he makes friends at every park, and thinks the whole world is his oyster.  When you’re an introvert with a twin like this, you need the top bunk.

The first thing you will notice is Auden loves spiders,

IMG_2566                     

3D

 IMG_2571

and Star Wars.

 Sticker collection

 SW ships

Auden began by highlighting his “collection”.  While it appears to me everything in the bunk is a collection, the collection known simply as “my collection” is the shells. 

"My collection" 

You might be wondering about the motor oil box.

 Makeshift cupboard 

I’d been thinking about adding some type of shelf or cupboard.  After seeing the bed storage, you’ll see why.  One day a certain two year old sister had practiced her ladder skills one too many times for Auden’s taste, and this quickie box idea was born.  It utilized green knobs I replaced on a hand-me-down dresser.  They were a bit ugly on the dresser, but I think any knob works on a cardboard box, don’t you?  They’re attached with some scrounged washers and handmade cardboard spacers.  Try creating your own cardboard furniture sometime.  It’s really kind of fun.  Someday I may devise an actual shelf made of wood.

After shells, Auden steered my attention to a small shelf that came with the bed.  A short history of the bunk bed- My dad made the bed for my two younger sisters.  After traveling with the youngest to college, it made  its way to our house for two brothers.  I think the shelf was an add-on request for nighttime reading. 

Auden uses it for that, and more.  The left side contains “maps”, which is what Auden and Parker call any instruction book or brochure.  They’ve referred to their LEGO maps for years, and I haven’t had the heart to correct it.  It’s accurate in a way, isn’t it?  On the right, a collection of Spiderman tales.

 "Maps" 
Then with a Bionicle box neatly separating, we have a few matchbox cars and marbles,

 cars 

and some shiny rocks.

 rocks

Notice under the rocks, yet more storage.  He demonstrated a procedure to place his beloved Star Wars LEGO book under his shelf and pillow.  It involved his “computer”, and pressing the computer’s “button”, which is also visible in the rock picture- the bolt in the corner.

Finally, no child’s bed should be without stuffies.

 Stuffies 

For their first few years, the boys had no interest at all in stuffed animals.  I chalked it up to a boy thing, and continued to long for a girl.  Lo and behold, around 3 1/2 years, they both attached to bunnies we’d had in the house since they were infants.  Since then, Parker’s dropped the bunny, which is nice, because Auden has two.  A side benefit of twinship is that when you’re given two things, and only one twin likes them, he has a replacement for when his own breaks or gets lost.  Wood the cat and the Husky dog (Go Huskies!) occupy the top affection spot now.

And there you have it.  Being the mama of this five year old is a great place to be.

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