When my twin girls were born, I made a solid commitment that they should enjoy the advantages of being a singleton, similar to my firstborn. However, this was easier said than done. Attentive family members thought it would be cute to give my girls identical dresses, identical bibs, and identical rattles. With my relentless guidance, they are now 30-year-old women with their own preferences in attire, husbands, and activities. It wasn't easy, but over those years, I created guidelines to make my daughters feel valued for their unique personalities.
Rule #1 - Always call them by their given names. When they were born, my visitors and family members spread that news that I had "twins." With my firstborn, everyone spread the news that I had a girl and used her name. But when my two babies were born, they grew to become part of a matched set. When someone wanted to hold one of my infants, I made certain she knew which baby she held.
Rule #2 - Dress each child differently. That well-meaning relative who brought identical outfits was likely dismayed to see only one of my children in the clothes she had given to both of them. Still, I had to explain that I was raising two children who just happened to be born on the same day and who were coincidentally carrying the same genetic code. As tempting as it was to see two identical girls in identical pink outfits, I had to force myself to explain that had they been born two years apart, they wouldn't have had exactly the same outfits.
Rule #3 - Let each child to determine which activities to pursue. It was hard for some folks to understand why one girl wanted to take dance lessons while the other wanted to learn flute. My friends would question, "Isn't that a lot of work shuttling them around to different locations?" I'd reply, "No more work than taking three children of different ages to different sports, music, ballet, or art classes."
Rule #4 - Allow them to form their own friendships. Just because one girl was friendly with the next-door-neighbor's girl didn't mean that my other daughter would also find her fun. Through the years, each child accumulated an assortment of close friends. My declaration for their TWINdependence also compounded carpool issues. Occasionally, I'd find myself as the carpool drop-off for one daughter and pickup for the other. Occasionally this actually worked to my benefit particularly when you added my older daughter's activities into the mix. Other mothers and fathers felt sorry for me as I shuttled three girls around town. I just smiled and accepted their pity, knowing that at least I cared enough to take my children where they needed to be, unlike some parents who always seemed to drop their kids into my car without jumping into the pool.
Rule #5 - Give them different presents for birthdays and holidays. Once again, the well-meaning family members managed to sneak in identical gifts under the premise that they wouldn't argue over the gift that way. OK, I could appreciate that logic, but to also get them the same card? When was the last time two individual children fought over getting the same birthday card?
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