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Raising Twins - I Have My Training Wheels On

By Rebecca Robinson - 19th October 2011

I kind of knew that some interesting sibling dynamics were up the sleeve of life. However intellectual I have been about it, there is always something humbling about actually living it. My 4 year old has a different relationship with each of his sisters - we have tried to encourage this ... that each kid is unique and there will be things you don't and do like about each other, and at different times. That's cool.
 
But you see, one of the girls isn't walking yet - it fits with her personality. She is chilled out and more inclined to potter with a stick and small hole - in, out, in, out, repeat, and repeat again. It's mesmerising. So kindy boy has taken a liking to his sister - the one  who is walking and running and able to follow his commands.
 
So as I heard the familiar sound of my 4 year old colluding with his sister up the hallway for their usual game of rough and tumble on his mattress, I didn't think anything of it. The two of them bulldoze themselves up the hallway and on to the mattress already on the floor in his bedroom.  But the words, "You are NOT my best friend"  followed by a swift slamming of the bedroom door in the remaining sisters face was a different spin.
 
I was stunned, hurt and confused. I was supposed to be prepared for this. My little one who crawls up the hallway never quite makes it in time. And if she does, she finds the screaming, yelling and shrieking too overwhelming anyway. But at least the door remains open - like a gesture of opportunity.
 
This time it was closed. And it felt like a deliberate exclusion. It felt unfair, and yet it was his bedroom. And yet it's our house. He doesn't have to like her, but he shouldn't be mean. I argued with myself for the next few minutes ... and I just needed to get dinner done and then ... the uncomfortable thoughts of "he has two sisters not just one" and "they are the same age so they should play together". All the stereotypes of twins started to creep in.
 
I knew I had to do something - that this was the tip of a slippery slope and I was thinking about my commitment to treating the kids the same, but as individuals with differing and changing needs.  What was the right thing to do?
 
So I gave it a shot. I strode down the hallway scooping up the little one who sat perplexed outside the closed door. I opened the door to a circus of pillows and doonas and spoke over the hilarity about being kind, and caring and sharing. I said that no matter who it is, we don't slam doors in people's faces. My lecture continued for a few minutes and I reiterated that we all play differently and that's cool, but ... and then I trailed off with some inane philosophical 'yadda yadda' that petered out as I returned to the kitchen.
 
When I had some time I went back to my copy of Emotionally Healthy Twins by Joan A. Friedman. It reminded me that treating the twins as individuals also meant that sometimes it was unfair for one of them. That each has different needs but they need to learn that life isn't going to exempt them from unfairness just because the other one got something they didn't or they can do something the other one can't.
 
It was comforting. My little one, who has a few months to go until she walks, will have to learn that life moves a little quicker for her 2 siblings. And whilst slamming doors isn't okay, it is okay for the kids to sort out their own alliances,(no matter how much it hurts my heart.)
 
I can hear the chorus of all those mums muttering, "...and it doesn't get any easier..." in the background as the penny drops for me...'clunk'.
 
Strewth.

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