Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The games that they play

They are not even two yet.
Not quite.
I have a few weeks left.
But it seems that Matthew and Jonathan can't wait.
They are playing like devious preschoolers.
They have always interacted with each other.
As newborns, we would place them on opposite ends of the crib, all swaddled in their receiving blankets. Fifteen minutes later, we would find them in the middle of the crib, side-by-side with blankets undone and heads touching.
By four months, old, the grunting had begun. They were like tiny caveman, exchanging grunts and giggles.
People stared.
Games of chase came with toddlerhood. Shouts of "Go, go, go," from one twin would trigger laps through the kitchen, dining room and living room with one toddler fast on the heels of the other. They even set up obstacle courses of sorts and took turns completing them.
The most popular went like this:
lay down and kick the safety gate; run to the recliner and slap hands on the leather (laugh); run over to the pillow they had thrown on the floor in just the right spot and jump.
Laugh like crazy and start over.
They were amazing and we were proud.
But, in the past few weeks, they have taken their level of play up a few notches. And it's all about games.
There is the usual stuff: tag, wrestling, cheering each other on as they run and leap into their bean bag chairs.
Then there are the creative ones: beg mom to let them color, "accidentally" throw a crayon on the floor, wait for her to pick it up and then pelt her with orange, green, blue and pink as she squats; grab sippy cups and dance with them, chanting "Aye, aye, aye," which, for some reason, makes them each laugh so hard, they can't breathe; "set" the table when mom isn't looking; set up Hot Wheel tracks all by themselves by sticking one end into the sofa and creating a ramp.
If that's not enough, they have both developed the cackle, that cackle the says, "Hee, hee! We've just pulled one over on mom. Let's watch her turn red and growl when she sees it!"
My babies didn't do this.
The worst part about this new phase of theirs is that I get absolutely nothing done.
Not a thing.
Not because they are into everything, moving nonstop and fearless.
But because I can't stop watching.
I am amazed and proud.

Christmas 2008

In celebration of Christmas (and because I lost my anonymity anyway when I linked this blog to my professional site), I'm throwing on photos of the whole family on Christmas Day (Minus my grown stepdaughter who celebrated with us earlier in December and spent the holiday with her mother).

In the photo of the twins playing together, Matthew is on the left. Matthew is lying on his dad's chest. Jonathan is looking up at him in the other photo. Jonathan is on the right in the photo with me. The other children are our 8-year-old son and our 7-year-old daughter.

Merry Christmas all!
Have a wonderful and fun-filled New Year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The results are in

It's official.
The boys can hear and understand spoken language just fine. They use plenty of inflection. They know at least 20 animal sounds and say them clearly. They even know many of their letter sounds.
Matthew and Jonathan can verbally communicate with others.
When they want to.
The trouble is that like many twins, particularly identical boys, they really don't want to most of the time. They use the smallest parcel of language possible to get their messages across and, at 23 months old, they still refuse to put two words together.
Really refuse.
They shake their heads "no."
"Twin language," the therapist wrote on the form in the evaluation room of the early invention program. They understand each other and have no urgent desire to please us grown-ups with their linguistic skills.
That's why they just stare at folks who try to get them to wave "hello" or "good-bye," yet they holler "bye-bye" and shut the door behind me when I take them to the sitter's (They love going there!). That's why they say only the first sound of so many words. That's why I am frequently puzzled when they open the fridge and ask for milk by some term they came up with entirely on their own.
No therapy necessary, she said. They will figure it out. But we really should teach them sign language if we want to lessen the frequency of tantrums as they struggle with the realization that this isn't going to work forever, she said.
The other therapists had a few things to say too. Mostly, they wondered how we do it. The room was like a preschool, filled with countless cool toys and contraptions that drew Jonathan and Matthew like magnets.
But the force wasn't strong enough.
Within 20 minutes, they were grabbing clipboards, standing on chairs, stealing shoes and flipping through notebooks of the three blissfully ignorant therapists. Their antics earned Jonathan and Matthew a ranking of 36 months for gross motor skills and 31 months for fine motor skills.
They made it only to 21 months for adaptive motor skills because I have, thus far, refused to introduce the potty. "I'm not potty training them until they can at least say the word 'potty,'" I told the therapist.
"Okay," she said. "Here's the sign."

Friday, December 12, 2008

He said his name

I was frustrated.
So frustrated.
I had bought a full-length mirror and mounted it in the nursery, hoping the image of himself would finally inspire Jonathan to say his name.
Instead, Jonathan stood before his reflection and said "Maaaatttt."
"No, no, no," I said, pointing to his brother. "That's Matt. You are Jon."
After a few rounds, Jonathan changed his response. Instead of calling himself "Matt," he actually pointed to his brother and then said Matthew's name. Further pressure only made Jonathan clam up.
Well, that was progress.
I sighed.
Jonathan knew who he was. He'd always responded to his name, but he just couldn't bring himself to verbalize it. Maybe the letter J was just too hard. But I knew in my heart that wasn't the issue. Jonathan wanted Matt's name, just like he wanted Matt's yellow bear, Matt's crib and Matt's shoes.
He had never said his name and he wasn't going to.
So I gave up.
I started to walk away.
Then I stopped.
I stopped because as I glanced back at Jonathan, I saw a familiar grin. It was that mischievous grin, the grin that tells me something big is about to happen.
"Maaaattt," he said, signaling toward his brother.
I approached him with caution.
"Yes. That's Matt, but who is this?" I asked, pointing at Jonathan's image. "Who is in the mirror?"
That grin grew. It grew bigger than I'd ever seen it before. Then suddenly it burst into a bright, startled face full of excitement, a look of comprehension and recognition that used every muscle in Jonathan's face.
"Jaaaah," he said. "Jaaaah."
Close enough.
I grabbed him and hugged him tight.
"Yes, yes," I said. "You are Jon."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Who needs pants?

The Boys in their favorite outfits.

Jonathan is on the left. They are 22 months old.