Friday, May 23, 2008

Parenting Multiples, Pt. I

*Note: I'm not a specialist, a doctor, an expert, or anything of that nature. This is my personal opinion only.

Clearly, I'm not a parent. And when I reproduce, it will probably not be multiples because fraternal twins don't run in my family and identical twins are freaks of nature. I can say that because I am a natural clone, so don't up and get all offended by that. The fertilized egg, it was minding its own business, just multiplying and it split. Too. Far. Probably before Day 5. One little ball of cells cuts itself in half and becomes two people. How crazy is that??

But I have read a lot of material on parenting twins/multiples.

There's one piece of advice that really bothers me that probably everyone just accepts as fact: Be sure to treat your twins as individuals.

This, in theory, is wonderful advice. Generally speaking, our parents did a good job of making us feel like individuals. But they never went so far as to ONLY call us by our names and never refer to us as a unit. We have been called "the girls" and "the twins" forever, by family, friends, and acquaintances.

People who insisted on calling us by our names all the time with no variation actually made me feel a little uncomfortable. Ignoring my role as part of a unit is ignoring a large piece of my identity. I often felt "Hello? I'm a twin. She's right here, we're together. Can you not see her?"

Both Baby A and I were (still are, when we have the time) voracious readers. I use the term "voracious" for good reason; those books/magazines/novels/dictionaries/newspapers never saw it coming. Naturally, if I saw something about twins, I would read it. That caused more harm than anything anybody had been calling us. I worried, for about two seconds, that I was co-dependent on Baby A. And then I realized I wasn't and quickly got over it.

"Co-dependency." "Lack of individual identity." "Underdeveloped sense of self." All this just because twins/multiples are sometimes referred to as a unit by those around them? I don't think so.

If anything, being called "the twins" or "the girls" solidified who I am. I am a twin, an identical one, who has a whole other human being hanging around that has the same genetic code. Hell yes, we're "the twins." I love being a twin!! I'm also Baby B, aka A_____, someone who is so alike and so unlike from her twin, completely individual.

I'm going to throw out an example of why ONLY calling twins by their separate names is overkill. A family, say the Robinson family ("Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you will know, oh-oh-oh"; sorry, I digress), is known as "the Robinsons" often times instead of "Mr. Robinson, Mrs. Robinson, and Elaine." (Couldn't resist, because I just saw "The Graduate"). Does that diminish their ability to discern their own identities and function apart from the group? I think not.

So, maybe that example was a little facetious, I'll admit. But here's the point: treating multiples like individuals is very important, but trying to completely ignore or discount their identity as a unit is unwise. Or, if you're unsure what to call them, just ask, like, "Do you mind if I call you two 'the boys' sometimes or would you rather just be called 'Mike and Alex'?"

Signing off,
Baby B

No comments: