Monday, December 10, 2007

The Experts

The experts at e-mailed me a newsletter the other day. The weekly newsletters are generated according to the babies' ages. They are intended to enlighten parents about developmental milestones while also offering tips for coping, feeding, sleeping--you name it. This particular issue focused on interaction with peers.
"For the most part," the experts write, "babies this age parallel play, staying happily engrossed in their own activities alongside one another, but without really interacting. This is normal — focusing on their own abilities and needs is how they develop. Over time, though, you'll notice your baby stealing glances at fellow babies, and she may crawl over to try to use the same toy."
Clearly, they have not studied twins.
Soon after I read this, I watched Matthew chase Jonathan on hands and knees from the living room, through the gate and into the kitchen. Once they reached the tile floor, Jonathan sat, turned in Matthew's direction and started laughing. Matthew stopped, looked at his brother and laughed in return.
And they were not just giggling.
These were deep, honest, belly laughs.
A moment later, they were at it again, heading toward the dining room at full speed. This chase-sit-laugh-and-repeat game continued for about 10 minutes. It ended when they reached the bookshelf. Unfortunately, for them, my husband and I had removed the books that they had so enjoy taking off the shelves and shredding.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, Matthew and Jonathan have interacted with growls, grunts and other noises since they were four months old. Now, each nap or bedtime begins with the two of them standing up, hanging onto their crib rails and shaking them with all their might while exchanging laughter.
Toys have been a problem since the boys began to scoot at about 6 months. The rattle, ball or block in the other baby's hand is always much more fun. Tug-of-wars erupt about every 10 or 15 minutes. Several of the most controversial toys have gotten time-outs atop the entertainment center.
And let's not forget empathy.
Matthew has developed a habit of pushing food out between what few teeth he has and letting it slide out of his mouth. He seems to like the sensation of applesauce flooding his chin and neck. I decided I had to nip this habit. So, the other day, I issued a scolding "no" as soon as I saw the food beginning to emerge.
Matthew seemed startled. Then his eyes scrunched, his lips quivered and the tears began. Jonathan looked over at his brother. They locked eyes for an instant and suddenly the same sorrowful expression washed over him. Within seconds, both boys were sobbing uncontrollably in their highchairs.
I find it hard to believe their level of interaction is unique. I'm guessing that it is common for twins, whether identical or fraternal, to begin interacting at earlier ages. It requires different parenting strategies than those recommended by the experts.
For instance, I probably would have kept scolding Matthew if he were a singleton until the stream from his mouth dried up. But he won. I'm tough enough to handle one set of quivering lips, but not two.
Dribble away.

1 comment:

Lexi said...

Laycee and Logan recently started interacting with one another too. They are always laughing at each other and they play and steal each others toys, food, pacifires, anything they can of each others.