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Unique to twins?




There are a lot of things about having twins that are hard to put into words or hard for people without twins to understand. For some things, parenting twins is double the work. For other things, it is half the work. I absolutely love being a momma to identical twins.

However, I read some of these articles about parenting twins or talk to some people with multiples and it feels like they are trying to make parenting twins far more unique or unusual than it is. Some of the things involved in parenting twins applies to parenting more than one child. Having twins in itself is special and unique. Why make it bigger than it is? Why say things in a way that puts down other moms, especially since most moms are moms of singletons? It feels like it is making a divide, when there is no need to create more mommy competition than there is already.

I was reading this article and it seemed to cover all the bases for most of the "unique" twin things I hear a lot, "9 things only parents of twins will understand," by Megan Shauri on FamilyShare. I went through the points she made regarding "unique twin things" and expanded on them, since many of them are not twin-exclusive, and some apply to sibling groups but are a little different for twins.

1. "People will ask inappropriate questions."

Totally agree with this one. We have heard some wildly inappropriate questions-- especially in front of our children-- as to how our twins were conceived. Even now I get asked if they are natural. But now that we have 4 children, we hear a lot of inappropriate comments, especially because they are all boys, these also said in front of my four precious children. Comments I've heard from strangers:

"If I had 4 boys, I'd put a gun in my mouth."

"Having 4 boys is the worst thing that I think could ever happen to me."

"Are you an alcoholic? I would be if I had 4 boys."

"God bless you because I can't think of a worse thing than having 4 boys."

"Better you than me because that sounds miserable."

I know the author was referring to fertility/conception when stating the inappropriate questions. When people ask about our boys ("Yes, all boys, all mine") they usually notice two are the same height and look the same ("Yes, they are identical twins") and I will sometimes hear if we "planned" them-- because using our magic looking glass we knew down the road that our 4th child would be another boy? So we thought let's do twin boys for children #2 and #3?

"Good Lord, I'm so thankful I don't have twin boys."

"Twin boys! That is horrible. Wow, I have always wanted twins, but never twin boys."

"I'm surprised you are out of the house and dressed. If I had twin boys, I would stay in bed crying all day."

Note on that: people really need to stop using the Lord's name in vain to curse my blessings.

2. "You have to learn to speak twin."

This is the first point she makes that I truly don't agree with. Twin language? Really? This is one that just makes me shake my head...

Anyone who has raised a toddler knows how language gets warped and distorted as their child learns words. Dirty diaper becomes "bo bo;" water becomes "wah." I've met people in adulthood who are still called by the name they referred themselves to when they were three-years old, unable to pronounce their full name.

Then you take two children learning language at the same time who spend all day together... yeah, they babble and sometimes it appears they have invented a little language. But they haven't. They are babbling. We have taken our boys-- all 3 of the older ones-- on playdates where they are playing with their peers and their friends even seem to know what they are talking about.

I attribute this to the fact that these children are just used to not understanding a lot of what is being said to them. Up until that point in their cognitive life, they have had a world of people talking over them and at them. And so they are imitating what was modeled for them, just like they do with everything else. You give them a pot and a spoon, they pretend to cook {until they start beating their brother with the spoon...}.

Our boys have all gone to speech therapy. With our oldest, we were taught not to encourage his mutated words. Even when he said words in an absolutely adorable way, we were to repeat it back to him correctly so he learned the correct pronunciation. With our twins, we were taught not to encourage their "twin speak," even when it was hilarious. When one babbled a word incorrectly, we were to repeat it back correctly.

Honestly, we never had an issue with "twin talk." I have met many people that strongly believe in twin language. Strongly. We have had age appropriate babble from our children that seemed to be understood by each other-- even our oldest. Our twins would be fussing in their high chairs, yelling some undecipherable stream of words, and our oldest would say, "Mom, he wants the red car and he wants his blanket!" after my attempts of appeasing them failed. Our oldest would diligently fetch these items; his brothers would take them and instantly stop fussing, their attention fully absorbed in their treasures.

As our twins have grown, we have encouraged correct language. When we figure out a hard to pronounce word that they have been struggling over, we learn to recognize it in their speech and work with them on the correct pronunciation. It doesn't make sense to me to latch on to toddler speak and dub it twin language.

When I tell people, no, our twins do not have a secret language, they usually launch into how their cousin's twins could read each other's minds. One would just burst out crying and the other would go get a certain toy and the twin would stop crying because they just knew. My sisters and I were always very close and always anticipated/knew what the other sister wanted, just from our surroundings/past experience/knowing each other. Siblings have a bond. Twins have a leg up on this sibling bond because from their moment of conception they have been thrown together as a pair, even in family's where the sibling bond is often ignored or left to grow on it's own without parental guidance.

3. "You will never stop being asked if they are twins."

My sisters and I look like replicas of each other. We used to find it so amusing when people asked us if we are twins. Sometimes we said yes; it was all a game to us. Now that I'm grown with a set of identical twins... it isn't the game it was then. Our boys are three-years old and I'm not sure I can really convey how often we are asked if they are twins. It isn't that I mind talking to people or that I'm not friendly; I feel like I am very friendly and open. I love our boys and love talking about all of them. It is just that we get asked at every store, at every errand, at the guard shack driving on base, at Chick-Fil-A when we walk in the door, when we order, when we are sitting at our table, by the parents in the play area, by the fellow patrons around us, on our way out to the parking lot... We seem to go in waves of being asked if they are twins. We will only get asked on some of our errands and then other times we are asked e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e every time we go out. {Mind you, I do not dress our twins alike. I sometimes put all of our boys in matching/coordinating outfits for events and such, but not our every day wear.}

4. "There is no such thing as just running to the store quickly."

This point made by the author was one of those comments that make singleton parents glare at twin parents. Because leaving the house with one child is so easy and singleton parents have no idea how easy they have it?

As a parent of singleton first, I can tell you that it is not that easy. Our first child was a breath holder from 6 weeks to 3 years. It was intense. And going from buckling no car seats as a free agent adult to buckling a car seat every time you leave the house, it is a big change.

Now as a parent of 4, I can tell you leaving the house with one child is not the chore it used to be. Buckling one car seat and taking one child in when I have 3 more children in car seats staying home with Dad feels like much less work. That sounds like I'm saying that one car seat is easy...

No, what I'm saying is that it is relative. Having your first baby is a major learning curve. Having your fourth baby is much easier. Things don't surprise you so much. I expect to have some fussiness in the store, maybe some crying in the car. I expect babies to be loud and disruptive in public and know what age appropriate behaviors from our toddlers are. I enjoy going out and having one on one time with just one child and appreciate not having to do zone defense down the aisle of the commissary.

If I could go back in time there are so many things I would be much more relaxed about with our first, but I can't because I was figuring it out then. I had no idea what to expect at each of the ages and stages. There are definitely times now that I hear a mom of one complaining to me about how their house is a mess and I do want to laugh out loud, thinking about the uphill battle I have at home with our 4 children. But I have been in that mom's shoes. I know how that mom feels and I know those feelings are real.

5. "The learning curve for sibling rivalry happens much sooner."

I think this really sums up a lot of the differences between twins and singletons, not the sibling rivalry, but that things happen much sooner. Instead of easing into balancing sibling groups, you are thrown into it. We went from one child to three children-- a big transition! As someone who rarely pushed a stroller with our first, I was then taking a stroller that could hold three children everywhere we went-- two infant carriers, two bottles, two sets of baby toys and blankets to keep track of, three children to balance. And when our twins became mobile it was much more difficult finding a place for our oldest to do toddler activities, like Playmobile sets. He would pull his toys away from one baby only to be accosted by the other baby. It was a lot for him to take in. Our style of parenting changed a lot going from one child to three children, though there has been a much smaller shift going from three children to four.

6. "They truly love being together."

This one is another stretch. How is this just twins? Our boys fuss and fight and bicker all day long. But they freak out if one of them leaves. They worry about the baby when I leave the house with just him, "Don't forget to feed him while you are gone!" Thank you, 6-year old; I will remember to do that! They worry when my husband leaves with any combination of them-- our 6-year old and a 3-year old; both the 3-year olds... They are so excited when their brothers come home after any amount of time away. "Where did you go?! Did you have fun?!" Whenever we go anywhere-- doctor appointments, piano lessons, etc-- and the one with me is offered stickers or suckers or treats, he demands 3 more for his brothers. They all look out for each other. We have encouraged from the beginning the sibling bond, the band of brothers. It is so important for brothers to have each other's backs.

7. "It feels like your kids grow up faster."

It is weird to me having two pass through the phases together. It feels... different. We seem to hit the phases fast and furious. We binged on toys to make our day easier; we have so many baby toy hand-me-downs, two of everything, because it was easier to give them each a toy in their Bumbo. We had two swings, two bouncey seats, two, two, two. Two push lawnmowers, two Fisher Price poppers, two Fisher Price school buses... And then they grew out of it all and it is passed down to baby #4 who finds far more entertainment in his brothers than his toys.

Looking at baby #4, I'm amazed at how old our twins are. We are out of the baby stage with them-- they are 3 years old! We are moving into the preschool years. How did we fly through that? I still remember the long evenings, double the colds, double the diapers...

And suddenly they are playing games with their big brother and our house is now three of everything. This was a Christmas of threes. Our garage has shifted from toys for our oldest {one of each} plus toys for our twin toddlers {two of each} to toys for our boys {three of everything}.

I think maybe now they are older and out of the extreme hands on baby phase, maybe it will feel more normal to have two children pass through the stages together. Maybe it will feel a little less intense than when it was two babies. I don't know. I am just floored that our oldest is now 6 years old. SIX. Not the tiny baby on my hip. Our twins are 3 years old. THREE. Not the round babies in cribs and diapers. And we have a fourth baby. What? How time flies!

8. "They will always be compared to each other."

There could be a whole article on this one alone. Yes, yes, yes, yes, a million times YES. We have 4 children and we have heard, "Does he sleep like the other ones? Does he eat like the other ones? Is he a good baby/bad baby/same baby as the other ones? Does he look like the other ones?" Normal, right? Yup.

But for twins, it is different. We hear that and then some. If one of our twins falls off the slide and starts crying, I hear, "Is he the sensitive twin?" If one of our twins is wearing mismatched clothes and the other twin is wearing what I picked out, I hear, "Is he the rebellious twin?" If one of our twins is throwing a fit in public, I hear, "Is he demanding twin?" If one of our twins says hi to the people asking if they are twins, I hear, "Is he the outgoing twin?" The are just labeled. Labeled everywhere we go no matter what they are doing. They are labeled as the twins and then people want to attribute each and every one of the smallest behaviors they are exhibiting at any given moment to which twin they are.

And when our oldest is noticed in the midst of the twin labeling, he gets asked, "Are you a good helper with your brothers?"

{Face palm}

9. "You will always be teaching people about twins."

Yup.

"My dad is a twin so I was sure I would have twins."

"My brother's cousin's wife had twins, so I know my turn is next."

Read my blog post, "Identical or Fraternal {revised}."


What do you think of this list and of her article? Do agree that these are unique to twins or do you think they cover sibling groups as well?
 

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