Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sometimes it would be nice if they acted like twins

I had to laugh the other day when I thought about all those parents who fret about separating their identical twins in school, or who dress their twins in assigned colors only, or who enroll them in different activities regardless of their interests--all with the goal of promoting individuality.
I had to laugh because individuality is the reason I need a mother's helper one day a week this summer. Individuality is the reason I had to order two more yellow shirts from Children's Place last week. Individuality is the reason we have huge battles at bath time these days.
And I can't recall doing anything specific to promote it.
For instance, I can't take Matthew and Jonathan to any public place that is not fenced in by myself because as soon as I set them down, they run off in opposite directions.
They might nod at each other occasionally, but rarely do they interact at all. They are content in the knowledge that the other is there and for some reason, that contentment seems to give them confidence. And energy.
So, if I want to take the older kids to the zoo, the Museums Center or the splash park, I need another pair of hands.
My mother's helper is 14 years old. She is our neighbor's daughter. She was so excited when she accepted the job. She was so exhausted after our trip to the zoo on Wednesday.
I hope she has the strength to last another eight weeks.
I had to buy those yellow shirts (on sale, thank goodness) because that's all Matthew will wear lately. Jonathan will wear only orange, though both are willing to make an exception for red or green shirts once in a while as long as we are willing to endure an amazingly long and loud tantrum first.
Jonathan will wear only shorts no matter how cool it is outside.
Matthew will wear only pants no matter how hot it is outside.
And bath time.
Bath time has turned into a disaster.
Jonathan wants bubbles and toys.
Matthew wants clear water and no toys.
I'm finding I can ease the resulting aggression by grabbing a few cars from their toy bin and throwing those in the water. Matthew doesn't view the cars as "bath toys." Jonathan does. So, until the novelty wears off, I'm saved once again.
Here are photos of the boys.
Can you guess who is who?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Identical voices?

Matthew and Jonathan have the same cry.
When I hear them call out over the monitor at night, I can never tell whether the same toddler has awakened twice or whether both woke up at different times. It drives me crazy, especially when they are sick.
So, before they started speaking, I often wondered whether they would have the same voice.
I finally have my answer.
They do.
But they don't.
If both boys say the same thing with the same inflection (and they often do), their voices are indistinguishable from one another. They also have a similar vocabulary and are at the same stage of speech development.
They string words together, but they do not form complete sentences.
What distinguishes them in speech is not their voices, but their personalities.
Matthew likes to yell.
Sometimes, he'll just stand there and holler, "Mom! Mom!" in a flat, loud, determined tone even though I'm right there. Then he'll grin. He just really loves to yell. It seems to makes him feel good, strong, in control.
If he wants to go into the basement playroom, he commands me: "Mom! Basement!"
Jonathan doesn't do that.
When I hear a question asked in soprano, that's when I know it's Jonathan speaking. He is inquisitive and his voice often climbs almost unbearably high when he struggles with that first syllable of a question.
When Jonathan wants to play in the basement, I hear a high-pitched squeak that grows louder, stronger and fuller as it finally escapes: "Basement?"
He doesn't command me; he makes an appeal to me.
Over time, I'm sure experience will change their approaches. They will learn, like we all do, how people react to their attempts to manipulate with intonation and inflection, and their voices will be like their cries.
They will be indistinguishable.
But that's okay.
That's okay because, by then, I won't need to hear different voices to know who is speaking. Jonathan and Matthew will have different interests, different concerns, different questions, different life experiences.
Their personalities will override their biological similarities.
They will sound different simply because they are different.