There are classes for CPR, driving, cooking, and birthing. There are hundreds, if not thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of resources around those subjects and innumerable more. When I got pregnant, I read books on baby names, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, magazines and articles on baby proofing, baby food, sleeping, eating, pooping, bathing, listening to classical music in the womb, reading aloud to your unborn child and protein needs for birthing brainy children. I subscribed to Parenting and Parents.
Once my twin girls were born, I read the annual ‘get-ready’ book, right around their birthday, called Your One Year Old, Your Two Year Old, and so on, up to age 5. Added to that, I read everything I could about twins, less common, like Raising Twins: Birth to Preschool and The Joy of Twins.
And then the music stopped. The advice stopped on how to raise your children healthily and started on problems your child may be having. Why do the books on healthy children end at age 5? Is the hard part over? Really?!
I felt abandoned, like a foster adult in the system. I felt like a high-school graduate, where my once-caring counselors are aren’t available anymore, and I’ve been dropped off at the corner of life, unprepared to find my own way.
Who do I go to? Who are our role models, except our own inexperienced parents? There is no standard guide, like the unabridged dictionary, that has everything defined. And you know this is why so many children become fucked up adults and parents. My mother once told me, in the early days, not to read any parenting books because those people don’t know what they’re talking about, and gave me a tip that I don’t spank my kids enough. Of course, she asked me if I was an idiot most of my life too. (And btw, answering “yes” gets you in trouble; answering “no” gets you in trouble; saying “can you repeat the question?” after a seemingly thoughtful pause is a very bad idea.)
Without guidance, I make up both the approach and the answers, on my self-guided tour through a household where new rules become law within seconds. Let me say here, that I think I’ve done a pretty good job by using the same principles from the early books. For example, the books say never to say ‘you annoy me’, but rather to say ‘I am getting annoyed by that loud music”. Through personal experience, I know better than to call my child an idiot, a dumb ass, stupid, or heifer. And definitely not to combine these into phrases…you dumb ass heifer, for starters.
I’ve also learned, especially important for multiples, to alternate. Alternate everything! This means I have to keep track of who did what last. “Claire and Amy, come to dinner”! “Amy and Claire, get in the car”. Who took a shower first last time, who ate the few remaining cookies last time, who got to sit in the front seat of the car, who went first at the hair salon, exhaustively. It comes naturally now or I have (smartly) transferred the tracking to the girls. They figure out whose turn it is to set the table, and wash the dishes, and…compromise, if the magic happens.
What I need help on (without my mother’s advice, I’m sure you can agree) is what to do in situations like, when your twin children have different GPA’s and one is calling the other stupid. With children of different ages, you can reason different curriculum, different teachers. With identical twins, it is ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL. Yet the rivalry is extreme.
What about friends? In the same classes, my kids have the same friends, but they don’t want the SAME friends. They want to be called the correct names, not the 50-50 odds friends, teachers and relatives take. Recently, a cashier asked me if I dress them alike. For god’s sake, I don’t dress them at all anymore – they’re 13! And when it’s time to buy shoes, or swimsuits, or whatever…there’s no ‘taking turns’. So, it’s always two pairs of shoes, two books, two, two, two hits in one.
It’s work!, always trying to keep things on an even, alternating keel.
Who or what do I turn to about twins as teenagers, same room, different tastes. What about dating? College? How do we split a car down the middle? I am torn, in two.