Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A closer look

It's strange and, maybe, it's just a phase, but I find that I rarely think of Matthew and Jonathan as identical twins these days.
All I can figure is that I am so focused on the intimate, complex achievements that come with this age, that I am unable to step back and see them from any kind of distance anymore. Their recent developments have given me the opportunity to see the minutia and, in the minutia, I see two little people who are so very different from each other.
For instance, language has given them the tools to verbally express their individuality, like Jonathan and his obsession with Swiper the Fox, an obsession that Matthew does not share:
"Oh man!"
(Repeat ten times and insist that mom repeat each word as affirmation that she is listening.)
Or Matthew with his bathing preferences, preferences that Jonathan clearly does not share:
"No toys!" Matthew shrieks as a small zebra, a cup and a teething ring come flying out of the bathtub. Jonathan stands, reaches in vain for the discarded playthings and then throws his hands up and cries.
"Toys done," Matthew says triumphantly. "No toys!"
Improved mobility and agility has given them the skills to individually test their physical limits while also applying the techniques of observation and manipulation.
For instance, Matthew has learned to appear fully absorbed in play in their fenced-in area out back, leaving me with a sense of security as I try to sneak inside for a moment to unload the dishwasher. As soon as my back is turned, he is over the fence and around the front of the house. Jonathan remains fenced in, too awed to throw a leg over and follow.
Jonathan, meanwhile, is focused on his jumping skills. He arranges bean bag chairs a few feet away from the sofa and then, calculating the distance just perfectly, he leaps from the sofa into the bean bag chairs face-first.
Greater reasoning ability, empathy and perspective has given them both the skills to manipulate their environment and the people in it to their liking.
A few examples:
Matthew will turn my head in his direction with his tiny hands, cock his own head in the cutest little way, scrunch his eyes just right and say, "Cars? Watch Cars?" He knows he makes my heart melt. He knows I can't resist. In goes the Cars DVD.
Jonathan keeps one eye on his brother and waits for that moment when Matthew wants to cuddle with me. Then he runs over, pushes his twin brother aside, climbs into my arms and declares, "Mine! Mine!" As soon as Matthew loses interest in the battle for attention, Jonathan slips off my lap and resumes play.
Matthew climbs onto the sofa, lays his head on a pillow and covers himself with a blanket, just like his older brother does each morning when he first wakes up. And then, in his desire to complete the charade, he says, "Ovaltine? Ovaltine?" requesting his idol's favorite drink and hoping it gets his attention.
Sometimes, when I am crouched down, picking raisins off the floor, scrubbing milk out of the carpet or scooping up bits of crushed crackers, I'll feel two perfect hands tickle my neck and Jonathan will be standing right in front of me. He'll say "love!" and then kiss me right on the lips. Just as he predicts, I stop what I'm doing and cradle this amazing human being.
It was a lot easier when the twins were more like a unit, when I could step back and say this is who "they" are, this is what "they" do, how "they" behave. Still, I wouldn't ever want to be positioned so far away again.
This new phase is exhausting, but it's also exhilarating.
I am finally getting the chance to know them, to know them as individuals.
As Matthew and Jonathan, brothers who just happen to both be two.


Lexi said...

I think this is so funny because this is the age where i have realized I am raising twins. To me, the twins have always been two separate kids, I just felt like I had two kids really close together, but it is not that they are expressing interestes and fighting and growing differently. It is now that I see that I really am raising twin toddlers. So it is funny that you feel like yours aren't identical at this age and I am just starting to think of mine as twins lol

Unknown said...

Great story! Mine are identical too, but at times they don't look it and other times I have to look closely to tell them apart. It's sweet they look alike but it's great they have their own personalities.