Saturday, February 27, 2010

The time-out swap

I used to be able to count on Matthew.
Or, at least, on his time-outs.
He'd begin testing me immediately after we dropped the older kids off at school. By the second trip to the time-out chair, I knew, without looking at the clock, that it was time to get lunch ready.
The third trip generally came just before we left to pick up the older kids from school, and fourth time-out was our call to dinner. Sometimes, there was a fifth time-out. That meant we were late getting them to bed.
But I couldn't count on Jonathan.
Just the mention of discipline made him quiver.
And whenever his brother was buckled in the time-out chair, he would cry and cry, demanding that I set him free.
I could honestly say that Matthew was our difficult twin.
Not anymore.
Just as they have done with so many other personality traits, Matthew and Jonathan have swapped. It's almost like they are toying with us. They push us and push us to label them and then, just when we're confident that we know these guys, that we know who they are and that we can openly say so, they pull a fast one.
One takes on the trait of the other.
But that doesn't mean they mimic each other.
Somehow, they still manage to do it in their own, individual ways.
Yes, Matthew's behavior has improved.
But he doesn't have the empathy that Jonathan had.
He couldn't care less whether his brother gets a time-out.
And I can't count on Jonathan like I could count on Matthew.
Jonathan's time-outs come in one endless stream all day long and they are proceeded by screeches of "I don't like," I don't," and "I will not" along with lots of hitting and pushing.
Matthew simply defied us, quietly and boldly.
I'm not thrilled with this phase, but I am thrilled to find even more evidence that identical genes do not mean that Matthew and Jonathan will respond to situations with identical emotions and attitudes.
Even in their rebellion, they are individuals.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The games they play

The rice was cooking. The ground turkey was soaking up the taco spices. The black beans (protein for our vegetarian son) were in the microwave. Dinner was almost ready the other day when my domestic bliss was distributed by a frantic, high-pitched cry.
"Help! Help! Someone help me!"
I darted into the living room, afraid of the scene that might await me. What I found made my heart stop ... in a good way. Jonathan stood on the edge of the sofa in a crouch. Matthew stood below him with his arms outstretched.
"I will help you Jonny," Matthew said in a soft voice. "I will help you."
Jonathan leaped gently into his brother's arms and both boys crashed to the floor in a fit of giggles. Then Matthew climbed onto the sofa, stood in a crouch on the edge and yelled, "Help! Help!" while Jonathan reached out to him.
It was a game.
Just a game.
New, complicated, highly imaginative games are becoming an important part of Matthew's and Jonathan's twin life lately.
Among their favorites:
They serve each other pizza and salads.
They use a toy blood-pressure monitor as a racing flag and take turns running to an imaginary finish line.
They have rules about who can shout "bah" and when while they are watching DVDs.
Even more interesting is that they are in agreement.
Matthew and Jonathan do not argue about the rules. When one chastises the other for breaking a rule, the scolded twin complies. Neither tries to take control over the other. They don't question each other's judgment.
Oh, I'm sure their time will come.
They are only three, after all.
But I am living in the moment.
And right now, I am in awe of them.
I am loving it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The birthday: trains, trains and more trains

For their third birthday, we took Matthew and Jonathan to a place in West Chester, Ohio, called Entertrainment Junction. Entertrainment Junction has a large train display and a play area that features Thomas the Tank Engine and all of his buddies. It was the perfect celebration for a couple of train addicts.

Matthew driving the train

Jonathan waiting for Thomas, Annie and Clarabel to come 'round again.

Big brother Riley (9) and big sister Kiersten (8).

At home the next day wearing the birthday sunglasses. Cool dude Matthew is in green. Cool dude Jonathan is in red.