Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Friendly indifference

I had always figured that Matthew and Jonathan's friends would easily be able to tell them apart.
Isn't that part of the magic of childhood? This extra sense that kids have, the lack of filters that allow them to see things as they are?
So I was disappointed the other day at preschool when Matthew's best friend tapped Jonathan on the shoulder and called him by his brother's name. Jonathan ignored him expect for the shrug indicating his annoyance at the constant interruption.
I politely pointed out his mistake and directed him to Matthew who just right next to Jonathan.
The boy gave me a puzzled look and then tapped Jonathan on the shoulder again.
"Matthew, Matthew. Come play," he said, his taps increasing in frequency. "Matthew."
I gave up.
These are the things I worry about.
It will be hard enough when adults mix them up as they grow older, but their friends?
I recently read about a 7-year-old girl who was shunned by a group of her peers for no apparent reason. She later learned that her identical twin sister had done something to upset them. They didn't change their stance when she explained the situation.
They chose not to differentiate between the two.
Jonathan and Matthew enjoy having different friends, though they all play together nicely. I hope that this boy is an exception. Another friend, the one Jonathan claims as his closest, tries. He doesn't always get it right, but he at least makes an effort.
If he is unsure, he figures it out within few minutes of play.
A little girl who greets us daily when we enter the classroom always asks me who is who first thing. She wants to be clear. She's always felt that need to know who is who.
I haven't paid enough attention to the others.
I have told the boys over and over again that people will mix them up and that they should forgive them. Simply correct them and forgive them. But I think I might have to revise that tutorial when they outgrow preschool and begin their elementary years.
We all make mistakes.
People will mix them up.
But if they are not sure, they should ask.
And if Matthew and Jonathan politely correct them, they should apologize and make an effort in the future.
I guess all I'm asking for is an effort.
Try to see Matthew.
Try to see Jonathan.
They are two boys, not one.