Monday, January 18, 2010

Today, they are three

My first thought on the twins' second birthday was, "Thank God. They are halfway to four."
I make no apologies.
Those were tough days.
But today, they are three.
Today is different.
Today, I am excited.
These two little men can talk to me.
They can reason with me. They can argue with me. They can sympathize. They can empathize. They can stomp their feet. They can hold my hands. They can play hide-n-seek. They can dress themselves.
They can leap onto my lap and wrap their arms around my neck for no reason at all.
They can tell me stories.
Yes, it's still hard.
They still run away from me at times. They still open the fridge, strip off their clothes and sneak into my office to play on my computer. They jump off everything, throw their toys and dump their stuffed-animal basket.
They are demanding, stubborn and curious.
But, they bring their plates to the counter after dinner.
They hug and kiss each other when they apologize. They pretend to be their older brother and sister and they pretend to be each other. Their cars and trains go grocery shopping, to school and to Target.
The best part is that they do most of that in different ways.
Matthew is Matthew.
Jonathan is Jonathan.
They are inseparable, but separate.
I let them choose the flavor ice-cream they will have with their cakes today.
Matthew chose chocolate.
Jonathan chose vanilla.
Each will savor his own.
But each will try the other's.
Today, they are three.
And, this time around, I feel no urge to rush it.
I look forward to the journey that will take us to four.

Friday, January 8, 2010

That one

The realization hit me just before Christmas.
It was early in the evening and all four kids were playing together. My daughter stopped to describe a funny incident involving one of her twin brothers. I asked her which one. She pointed to Matthew and said, "That one."
"Who?" I asked.
"That one," she said.
"No," I said. "Tell me his name."
She shrugged and said she didn't know.
Then I asked her older brother.
He didn't know either.
Neither was bothered.
Matthew and Jonathan were indistinguishable to even their own siblings.
How could we have missed that?
We missed it because we were too busy.
When all four children are together, the household is a chaotic mess. They twins like to get wild and the older kids like to get wild with them. It's all I can do to keep my sanity and to ensure that no one gets hurt.
Who has time for individuality and identities?
I didn't let it go that evening. I pressed my older children to figure out who was who and, in the end, they got it right. When we sat down to breakfast the next morning, we had a chat. Riley (9) and Kiersten (8) told me that they can figure out who is who if they really try, but that they usually didn't bother.
They didn't bother, they said, because I was always quick to identify their brothers for them.
We reached an agreement.
I explained why it was important that they know their brothers as individuals.
They agreed to try.
For a day or two, it was a game.
It quickly became a habit.
There are still times when they refer to the twins as "this one," or "that one," but most of the time it's "Matt," or "Jon."
And something beautiful has come of it.
Their strategy of play has changed.
Riley and Kiersten are learning that Matthew and Jonathan have different play styles and that simply getting wild isn't the only option. Riley and Jonathan have a cuddling game. Kiersten enjoys engaging Matthew in conversation.
The house is quieter (sometimes).
The kids are more content (sometimes).
I am much less stressed.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Matthew and Jonathan did not tear open their siblings' gifts.
They did not throw food at the table during Christmas dinner.
They did not tear down the tree.
They did, however, argue intensly and often over the trains Santa brought them.
Who ever would have thought that Spencer would become a favorite?
Overall, the holidays were a success and we hope yours were too.
Happy New Year from the Foster family!

From left to right: Matthew, Kiersten (8), Jonathan and Riley (9)

Matthew is in the snowman sweater. Jonathan is wearing polar bears. The sweaters came from Grandma Foster. The hula hoops were a gift from their sister, Kiersten.

Jonathan is on the left. Daddy picked out the glow-in-the-dark train shirts.