I read an entry from my blog friend Amanda over the weekend. Amanda’s identical twin girls, Maddie and Izzie, are 4 ½. I like to think I ponder individuality quite a bit, but her post really got me thinking about how multiples may sometimes perceive themselves, especially in relation to each other.
I know that when you are a twin, sometimes it is hard to figure out who you are, separate from your sister. This will be a life long journey my girls go through. Every single person goes through this journey, but for twins there is the added element of seeing a mirror of who you are, might be, could be, and even are not, every single day. Most people don’t have to worry about how they are singular in this world until a much older age. I know I’m over thinking it, but I want my girls to be everything they want to be, and last night’s conversation has just stuck with me.
We do a little family game before bedtime a couple times a month, “I love ‘blank’ about you.” We take turns going around the family, “Izzie, I love how graceful you are,” or “Maddie, I love how kind you are to everyone.” Last we say something we love about ourselves, like “I love my smile.”
When we play this game we let the girls say whatever they want, and oftentimes at this age they just repeat whoever went first. And that is fine. They LOVE this exercise. But last night Izzie was having a hard time saying what she loved about herself.
I tried not to put words in her mouth, but she was getting frustrated and I opened my mouth and said, “Do you love how you twirl? Your talented art? Your great math skills?” And before I could say anything else both girls stopped me, “Mom,” Maddie piped up, “I am the girl that is a mather, Izzie does art.”
I said, “Izzie can do math too.” They argued and Izzie said, “I do art, NOT math.” I just said that they could both do art and math and anything they wanted and just let it drop.
This has come up over and over. I don’t know how it started and I know they are just trying to figure out who they are in the world, their sameness and their differences. And yes, Izzie does tend to spend more time drawing and coloring and Maddie will keep answering addition and subtraction problems all day long, but I really hope that at 4.5 years old they are not setting themselves in stone. Izzie is great at logic problems and Maddie loves 3D art like cutting and gluing. I probably just need to take a deep breath and let them be.
With our girls, at 3 ½, I sometimes see them avoid head-to-head “competition”, so to speak. If I’m praising Baby A for writing her letters, and I invite B to join, it’s rare that she’ll want to come near a pencil. And there are times when that carries beyond a particular situation. With writing, specifically, I’ve had to find time to work with B one-on-one. She’s never said anything, but it’s almost as if she seems to think that’s her sister’s “talent” and she’d be best to focus on something else.
Have you encountered this with your multiples? How did you handle it?
Amanda blogs at Ditt and Dott: Raising Twins. She’s such a creative, hands-on mama, and she’s one of the crunchiest people I know (and I say that as a big compliment!). Among many other things, I love following along with the at-home preschool curriculum she does with her girls.