Updated: Aug 13, 2020
We had a party at our house this last weekend to celebrate Simon and Sebastian's first birthdays. Sebastian was born July 10th last year. Simon was born August 28th, 7 weeks to the day later. Since they were born so close together we thought it made more sense to have a joint birthday party instead of two individuals. But where should we draw the line on that? Where is it okay to treat them as a unit and where do we need to make sure to treat them as individuals? I have known several sets of twins in my life. Growing up there were 3 different sets of them (6 total people) in my graduating class of 35 people (tell me that's not a statistical anomaly). Twins face a unique situation that single birth children don't really understand, being thought of as a unit. I have seen this situation help twins grow as people and give them strength. But I have also seen it cause severe personal confusion and resentment towards parents. While our sons are not exactly twins, they get treated that way a lot, but it is my wife and I's responsibility to foster a sense of individuality in them without causing a dissociation with each other.
Can you imagine being born with your best friend? Spending your whole life growing up beside them? Sharing a bedroom and staying up after your parents put you to bed playing quietly so they don't know that you are still awake? This is my wish for our sons. But I am afraid.
I always hated being compared to my siblings growing up and we were years apart. I can only imagine the pressure for that is worse in twins. Twins get compared in real time and, while I believe competition is healthy for children, that is a competition that lasts a lifetime. I already notice my wife and I do it. The boys are the better part of two months different in age and we are still in the early years so it does make some difference. But as far as aptitude testing goes, Simon (the younger of the two) is ahead of Sebastian in almost every regard. Now, I don't place a ton of weight in an aptitude test for anyone that doesn't even have control of their bowel yet. Still, it is hard not to look at anyone who is being past up by someone 20% younger than them and worry. Avoiding comparing the two is only going to get harder as the get older. Test scores, sporting events, habits, even physical traits are all things that are easy to make comments on that could make it seem like you are favoring one of them over the other. However, never telling them they are doing great when they excelling at something makes them think you don't care about their individual accomplishments.
On the other hand though I want to make sure my sons know they are united. Unlike natural born twins, our boys are only connected by the memories they create together and a mandate by the Kansas legal court system. The thought of them reaching adulthood not thinking of each other as brothers is far more terrifying than them resenting each other a little for a matching outfit they were forced to wear as kids. I have two older sisters and they are great, but I always wanted a brother growing up. (For some reason my parents never got me the one I asked for for Christmas every year till I was 12) A brother always has your back. They are there to fight against you when you step out of line and for you when you really need them. I have found several people to call my brother in my adult life. People I can call on when my back is against the wall. One of whom is actually my brother(in law) now. I want that for these two boys that God, my wife, and I worked so hard to bring together.
We all have to consider the ramifications of the decisions we make for our children. It is unavoidable that we will make some wrong choices. But hopefully the things that we do right outweigh those mistakes and we can all raise our wonderful children into awesome adults. That is my wish for me and my children, as well as for you and yours. I hope this message finds you in good health and of a sound mind. I am just another confused father from Kansas wondering...
How did I get here?