Hey, That’s My Thing!

One of the things we’ve been struggling with recently is twin identity.  BalletBoy’s thing has always been…  well…  ballet.  At the start of the fall, Mushroom decided he wanted to join BalletBoy’s ballet class.  After an initial hesitation, BalletBoy agreed, but at the end of the term, he was clearly relieved that Mushroom intended to drop it.  Then, just before the re-enrollment deadline, their ballet teacher moved away and they got a new one.  Mushroom decided to stay in the class after all and BalletBoy spent a full week moping about it.  He was wonderful about expressing his feelings.  He just felt sad.  Then, after some heart to hearts, he accepted that his brother wanted to stay in the class and moved on from thinking about it.

I’m really proud of him, but it brings up some issues.  First and foremost, I want my kids to be able to find their own paths yet still celebrate their twinness.  We are completely unsure of whether they’re identical or fraternal*, but either way, I want them to forge their own paths.  However, if they want to follow each other, that’s okay as well.  But it has to be okay for each of them.  It was clearly important to BalletBoy that he have something that was all his.  Now that Mushroom has honed in on that, I’m sure he’s feeling his identity pressed upon.  Yet I don’t have the heart to discourage Mushroom.

When Mushroom and BalletBoy were tiny, I thought that by the time they were six years old, they would have separate rooms, separate clothes, separate toys and separate personalities.  They are very different in some ways.  I’ve written before about how they read on radically different levels with reading and often approach learning very differently.  They also have different outlooks on life in general.  Where BalletBoy is usually sanguine, Mushroom is decidedly a miniature pessimist.  But the rest of those separates never came to fruition.  They sleep in the family bed with us and couldn’t care less about their rooms.  They draw from the same dresser of clothes and have never said they want it different.  Other than a couple of items, like their DS’s, they share everything.  World leaders could learn a lot from listening to these two negotiate and take turns.  They’re so brilliantly mature about it most of the time, it boggles my mind sometimes.  But in a way, that makes it all the more important that when they want to do their own thing, that I help support that for them.

There’s no simple answer.  But I’m thinking about it, working on it and trying to be aware.

*Note: Many people seem confused as to how we could not know our sons’ twin status.  The reality is that many twin parents don’t know or think they know but are actually mistaken.  Many of the ways doctors tell parents that they “know” the twin status are false.  Obviously, boy-girl twins and twins with radically different features like hair or eye color are fraternal.  Mushroom and BalletBoy look very alike and I suspect they may be identical, though fraternals run in my family and there are certainly a number of distinguishing features between them.  Nor do they have much of the sameness in personality, interests, learning style or pace that many people report with identicals, though they certainly have the sense of closeness.  At some point we’ll get around to testing them, I’m sure.

4 thoughts on “Hey, That’s My Thing!

  1. My sisters in law are 7 year old fraternal twins, and I really wish their mother would encourage them to have separate interests. They don’t share well, and everything between them always has to be equal or the fight. You can’t customize gifts on birthdays or Christmas, you have to get the same thing for both. If one starts a new activity, the other one will drop what she is doing to go try to get in on the activity too. They are so different it’s difficult to see them locked into this idea that it’s only fair if both of them have/do the exact same thing.
    It’s refreshing to hear that your boys share well, and can be mature about their difference and similarities.

    1. That double gift thing drives me a little nuts. Some people used to try to do that with us and after the initial couple days of having a new thing and both wanting it, it always just felt like a waste of space and resources and I usually ended up taking the extra to the thrift store. So now they get more different things… but they have fewer individual items they own as a result. Everything is jointly held so to speak. So then it feels like neither method is really that helpful for encouraging individuality. I guess the best would be to just get them completely different things that really weren’t for sharing. But that doesn’t feel fair… not unless it’s something that really speaks to an individual interest that the other child doesn’t share. So far, they don’t have a lot of those. They’re both happy to try anything. So even though Mushroom expressed an interest in cooking and got a cookbook for Christmas, I know BalletBoy will use it too and it would seem rude to stop him. Alas. Tough stuff. Thinking, thinking, thinking about it.

  2. Sorry, just found your on Secular Homeschool, and am reading a bunch of stuff that resonates with me. My fraternal twin daughters are almost five, and very different kids who happen to share darned near everything but their loveys.

    Anyway, did you know that it is actually possible to be half-identical? An egg can divide then be fertilized by two different sperm. Neat, eh?

    Enjoy!

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