So, I don’t really get annoyed about twin attention when we are out and about. People. Love. Twins. It’s really sweet, and many people are curious and ask us questions, or just loudly proclaim to their friends, “Did you see the twins?!” The Saturday before Christmas we trudged through one of the local malls because we needed the boys’ ornaments . Tommy and I decided to divide and conquer. He pushed the boys around in the stroller in the mall corridor, while I looked through one of those Christmas themed stores that are bedecked with a million bedazzled decorations calling out to your children to break into a beautiful array of smithereens.
Gracie and Ava were very excited because they have never had the opportunity to participate in the purchasing of ornaments. We give each child an ornament on Christmas Eve before dinner at the table. We call these table gifts. Each child has a theme to their ornaments (This is partly so that we will be able to remember which ornaments belong to who)…so that the kids can take them with them when they grow up and will be able to have the ornaments that they remember from childhood. It’s a fun tradition that we are continuing from Tommy’s childhood.
Anyhow, we circled the store about twelve times…the young man who ran the cash register commented that he thought we were employees, since we had been there so long. And when we were confident that we had picked the cutest snowman (Finn) ornament, and the cutest Santa (Granger) ornament, we checked out, and met Tommy and the boys in the mall.
Tommy was stopped just outside the door talking to a couple.
“Beautiful family.” The woman called as they made their way down the mall corridor.
Once we got out to the car Tommy mentioned that the woman had stopped him commenting how beautiful the babies were. She then greeted each of them. As is usual with our boys, Granger immediately flashed a flirty grin basking in the sudden onset of attention. Finn, on the other hand, turned his head away smiling into the side of the stroller as if the brunt of the attention were just a little too much for him.
“Oh” The kind woman gushed, pointing at Granger. “He’s the social one.”
And turning to Finn she pronounced “And he’s the shy one.”
I really think that people are well meaning. I really do. Twins, especially baby twins, are a really fun anomaly to come across in your everyday life, but as the parents, we’re already concerned about their identities and the pressures of being constantly compared to one another. If Granger gives high fives on his first day of high school will he be forever known as the high five giving twin?
That might have sounded ridiculous to me a little over a year ago, but we have had a lot of people come up to us and give us a 10 second compare and contrast of our twins’ personalities.
Yes, if someone new comes to our home, Granger might be the first to smile. And yet, Finn might cry when they leave after spending much of the afternoon in their arms. Of course that doesn’t make one of them the social one and one the shy one. There’s no such thing. There is also no nice one. No evil one. Not a fussy one. Or a smart one. I have super sensitive and intuitive readers, so I know I don’t need to tell you this, but it’s surprising to me how insensitive people can be with their comments when we are out and about.
For one thing, the boys are so rapidly changing still that a trait that one shows now, may just not have developed yet for the other baby. One seasoned mother of twins once told me that when she thought she could concretely define something about one of her girls, it would change. I think it’s tempting for people to want to feel like they have the the boys figured out…I think this is true when strangers meet babies in general, but it’s more pronounced with Granger and Finn than it was when we had just Grace, or when we had toddler Grace and baby Ava.
I don’t think there is some one size fits all solution to this issue though. I’ve mentioned in passing before that I tried reading a bunch of books on parenting twins after the boys were born. Some of the tidbits in them really irritated me. Things like, treat your twins as individuals. They aren’t a packaged set of dolls to be dressed up and paraded around. I seriously wanted to flip those books off. I felt like only an idiot would need that advice….Some of the other advice included absolutely to never compare your multiples….that. is. impossible. You can’t possibly promise to never talk about who crawled first, or who said the first word. That’s ridiculous, trite crap from someone who thinks they are too perfect.
All children are individuals whether they shared a womb or not.
I think it’s perfectly natural to compare children as long as it’s in a healthy way….and I’m still figuring out what healthy is. For instance, Granger enjoys hammering and can sit and hammer the same toy for a surprising amount of time. None of our other children have done this so far. Finn may take it up next week. Who knows. Finn was the first of the boys to learn to dance. He also tends to dance more often. However I would not refer to Finn as our dancer…
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t want any of our children to be pigeon holed into their perceived interests or personality traits. At this point in time I’m most concerned about the nature of being a multiple. I’m sure that we will make mistakes on this front, and that there are pitfalls that I’m not even aware of….but it’s on my radar.
So yeah, no neat and tidy ending on this one, but I guess that’s just life.