Parenting

Pondering sibling metamorphosis

Imagine this: You are a seven-and-a-half year old girl who is coming out of her shell in a major way, individuating, finding her voice and her body, calling out for interaction, learning about the world like a sponge, excelling at so many things—but forced to compete for attention with two twin brothers who are six, and from one parent at a time.

Imagine this: You are a six-year-old boy who has a twin brother and the two of you have never spent more than a school day apart, maybe not even that because you see each other on the playground during recess every day. You were born minutes before your brother which is really at the same time, but it’s not, so you’re kind of the middle child. Sometimes it’s hard to get your sentences out because you have spent your life trying to get a word in edgewise. But that has made you confident and self-sufficient and funny, and cool as a cucumber.

Imagine this: You are a six-year-old boy who has a twin brother and the two of you have never spent more than a school day apart, maybe not even that because you see each other on the playground during recess every day. You were born minutes after your brother which is really at the same time, but it’s not, so you’re kind of the baby. You think you know what’s right and just but you’re not sure, so you feel an internal struggle to find the perfect balance. You follow your big sister’s lead and you find comfort in your twin brother’s calm, but sometimes the struggle is really hard.

Now imagine these three personalities together, every day, negotiating space, time, and attention.

I watched these three kids play together A LOT today. They played Lego’s together and side-by-side. The brothers watched big sister play dollhouse with me, dying to participate, but managing to remain respectfully on the sidelines. They played pretend bake shop together. They rode scooters alongside each other to the park. They pretended they were riding in a flying car and in airplanes as they each sat in different structures at the playground. They vigorously discussed their pretend play and next moves and “pretend that I’m” this and “pretend that I’m” that. They even told another dad on the playground all about each other, how far apart in age they are from each other, and asked about his kids and their ages. They made fun of each other, then apologized. They cheered each other on for doing great at a game. They offered each other comfort and solutions when one lost his or her patience.

These kids excelled at collaboration, observation, patience, imagination, negotiation, turn-taking and self-regulation, repeatedly, all goddamn day. I’d say they deserve a big applause.

Why can’t grown-ups do that more?

I participated at times (mommy needs to play, too—but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post), but I also had my moments during which I could observe them from a distance. I wonder how their sibling relationships will evolve over time. How will they relate when they’re 24 and 23 respectively? 36 and 35? Will they be close? Will something happen to create a rift? What will it be like when they start scattering across the country, each pursuing his and her own dream? Will they still have inside jokes and a shared sense of humor and finely-tuned roles like they have today?

What will they remember about each other, and what will they forget?

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