Sunday, January 31, 2010

Roll With The Punches

When you have a two year old (or two), you can either try to fit them into an adult world, with almost certain unpleasant repercussions, or you can plan around them. Up until now, I had always viewed it as somewhat of a failure in my role as a parent and disciplinarian to yield to a two year old.

I believe in giving children their own sense of power - to make choices and have (limited) control over their environment, and successfully maintain the facade that it's real, and not just a parental stunt. It's the eternal child/parent tug of war. And we all know what happens when parents give too much slack on that rope...

But where is the balance of power so that I'm not squelching their fragile independence and creating future therapy-worthy topics?

There's no equation, of course, much to my chagrin. I'm learning it's case by case, just like everything else in life.

Most important for me is to learn to roll with the punches - end an activity or outing even though it may have been pre-planned or expensive. Just like adults, toddlers get to a point where they've had enough, but can't communicate it - that's my job. Maybe if I stop thinking of parenting as a dictatorship and start looking at my children and me as a team, I'll have more success.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Coming out of the Woodwork

Now that I have twins, I run into twins wherever I go. I'm a twin magnet. Twins seem to seek me out. Are you getting the picture yet? 

While pregnant, I encounter two twins (not related to each other) in one day without even leaving my house. Check that; I took out the garbage. My neighbor, whom we've lived next to for 5 years asks me if I'm having a boy or a girl. Twin girls, I tell him. His wife comes out on the porch and announces that she is a twin. Later that day, my housekeeper and I are chatting and guess what? She's a twin.

Standing in line for food on a BC ferry coming home from my mother-in-law's house, the woman standing in line behind us tells us she is a twin.

Ok, not a huge coincidence... Until that same scenario plays itself out dozens of times over the past 2 1/2 years.

Checkers at the store tell me they are a twin so often that I begin to wonder about the statistical chances of randomly choosing the line with the twin checker - out of say, five checkers, how many times do I choose the one that is a twin?

While calling the cable company, my girls are performing their usual loud mommy-is-on-the-phone antics. I warn the customer service representative that he may be subject to the piercing squeals of two two year olds. "Twins?" he asks. Then tells me he knows how it is - he has (grown) twins.

Still with me?

I'm sitting poolside in Cabo San Lucas, watching the activity around me. There are two girls chatting happily, but it doesn't occur to me that they may be related until I walk past them. It's their eyes - a piercing silver green. I literally stop in my tracks to ask if they are sisters. Yes. But they don't reveal to me that they are in fact, identical twins until I mention that I have twin daughters.

Part of me loves these encounters. Another part of me is secretly disappointed that my girls aren't as unique as I would like to think. Regardless, they do tend to attract attention in public places.

Out to lunch with my husband and daughters, there are only two other customers in the small teriyaki grill, two women seated at a table adjacent to us. We are used to being looked at - that delayed stare while people figure out if my girls are possibly twins, but I notice that both women are looking at them with delight and ask me their age - not if they are twins; they have already deduced this. They tell me they are (identical) twins as well, and I'm intrigued to see the similar outlines of their forms, yet shockingly different superficial features: one has short blond hair with chunky red glasses and the other has long brown hair with wire rimmed glasses. But there is no denying they are identical twins. I can see the synchronicity of their mannerisms. They interact with the harmony of an old married couple.

What's endearing in children can be peculiar in adults.

In an odd irony, they lecture me about encouraging individuality between my twosome, a property that was apparently void in their upbringing. Many parents of twins bask in the intimacy between their offspring, but neglect to realize that humans weren't meant to exist in duplicate, and won't truly flourish in life unless they are provided with the tools to become a whole person, instead of half of a pair.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pieces of Me

"It's the one thing we never get over: that we contain our own future"
-Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams (on being pregnant)

My daughters are little pieces of me. Physical, miniature beings that were created inside my body, and that I delivered to their new home on earth. While on vacation recently with childless friends, I was attempting to describe how it felt to have them so far away, and why I had to keep looking at pictures and talking about my girls. I told them it is different than anything else that I've ever felt proud of in my life - my education or my career for instance, because these are little humans that walk and talk that didn't exist before they grew in my womb.

But it's much more than that. People tell me all the time how much my daughters resemble me. Of course they do - that's how it works! But each and every time I hear those words, I feel a swell of pride that only reinforces the instinctual bond between mother and child.

(Is this perpetual cloning the naked, underlying reason for the continuation of the human race?)

Children come in all shapes, colors and sizes and they are all precious, innocent and deserving of love, but what makes my heart melt at the first sight after a long day of my two young mini-me replicas standing eagerly at the garage door?

Is it their affinity to my own features - the blonde hair, blue eyes, fair skin? Or the curiosity of their differences from me? Their autonomous psyches, the ringlet curls, their upturned button noses?

It must be both. They are so different from me, yet so similar. And that makes them irresistible.

Me                                                                    Jaeda
Me                                                                  Tristyn

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Silence is Deafening

I knew I had arrived as a parent when I described the squeals of my daughters playing with their cousins as the "sound of happiness" while they ran the circular route that is our house, leaving a bevy of toys in their wake.

(My house has never been spotless, and now I have a reason. These two pint-sized Tasmanian devils reside there now, and can create enormous messes in the blink of an eye.)

The other day, as I dropped the girls at the YMCA daycare, they were the only kids. As they scampered to claim toys, it was quiet in the room. I said to the attendant, "the silence is deafening" - and it was - the room is usually filled with babies and children and the noises that accompany them.

I experienced this phenomenon in my own house shortly thereafter. The girls were fighting a cold, and had been napping for hours one afternoon. My husband and I took advantage of the child-free time by catching up on reading, emails and chores. But at a certain point, the house feels too quiet. Somber instead of peaceful, almost like a reminder of the void our lives would have without these two boisterous beings.

If Happy does have a sound, wouldn't it be laughter? And what better laughter than that of a child - their brains and emotions unencumbered by adult worries, insecurities and prejudices?
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