I'm reading a pretty good book right now. It's called Raising Twins from Birth Through Adolescence: What Parents Want to Know (and What Twins Want to Tell Them) by Eileen M. Pearlman and Jill Alison Ganon. I'm only about 1/2 way through it but so far it has a lot of really interesting things to say. Sometimes it's hard to get into a book when you only have 5-10 minute segments of time to read, but the way this book is laid out I can usually get something out of it during such a time stretch.
Right now I'm knee deep in a chapter about Labels. I think all parents who have more than 1 child have to deal with such issues to some extent, but to parents of twins or more it's even more difficult to avoid labeling your children. It's how the human brain works. We look for differences in order to find unique qualities that set one person apart from another. It's how we define people as individuals. But with twins some comparisons can be hurtful or even damaging.
So I've been looking at how I've inadvertently "labeled" my kids. Several family members have looked at Ziva and commented on how she's going to be the "tomboy" someday because she's very active. And I've found myself automatically giving her the green or blue cup to drink from, or dressed her in more neutral colors instead of pink or purple. Or go just the opposite and put her in the most frilly shirt possible to fight off such a stereotype. Either path I go with this I end up being upset with myself afterwords.
And Anya, who since the beginning has been known as "the shy one". I find myself often shielding her from new people or situations, anticipating that she will get upset before she even has the chance to make that choice for herself. Yet she was the one who warmed up to Santa Clause right away at a kids Christmas party, not Ziva. So obviously I need to give her more space to be open to new people and experiences so she can learn to make those judgments herself.
It's so easy and simplified to say child A is ________ and child B is _______. The challenge is in allowing your children to just be who God created them to be and stop putting them into little boxes and expecting them to stay put. Because the child who is rebellious and challenging today may very well be the helpful and considerate child tomorrow.
As one fraternal twin girl in this book put it, "There is really no good twin and bad twin. Each one is good some days, and each one is bad some days." I think that's a pretty apt description of the twin experience. Just like you and me and everyone else, they have their good days and their bad days. Sometimes they take turns on those days, and sometimes they decide to be good or bad simultaneously. And Lord help me when they're bad simultaneously!