Mr M and I recently had a lovely weekend away, our first from the twins. It was full of laughter, good friends and slightly too much Pinot Grigio. On the first night a few of us decided to indulge in a dangerous game of the card game Taboo, which I now believe should come with a warning stating it can bring out the best and worst in those who play it. For those of you not familiar with this game, it’s based upon the player’s ability to describe something without using any words from the accompanying list. There’s a timer and a hooter to squeak at the player if they say any of the forbidden words. It’s a very, very funny game and it’s also a undetonated bomb ready to explode in the hands of some people – mainly me.
It’s generally known that I’m competitive in a lot of areas of my life, especially in things I know I might have a chance of winning. I know for example that having run four half marathons in my life that I’m never going to win one but I’m ok with that. If you told me the same about a round of Trivial Pursuit there’d be some choice words thrown about, and I couldn’t be held responsible for them quite frankly. If I get into a competitive mindset anyone and everyone is fair game. So you have been warned.
The next day after Taboo (I won of course) it got me thinking about how competitive I am and whether it’s a trait I want to pass on to my children. Now I do think that an element of competition is healthy, even amongst children. I’m not a fan of events where everyone wins and is celebrated. In my opinion (and it is only my opinion here), if someone wins through their own skill and ability then they should be acknowledged and rewarded for that. I also truly belive that all of us have to understand the disappointment of losing because that’s life sometimes. We won’t always win everything and unless we know how to handle the feeling of being “runner-up” I sometimes worry it’s creating a generation of children becoming adults who don’t know what that feels like and how they should deal with it. So in theory yes, I do want the girls to grow up knowing that competition, or a healthy level of it is a good thing.
What does give me reason to pause is the idea of competition between them. There is always, to a certain extent competition between siblings and I’d expect that between my daughters. My brother and I are very competitive about some things which other people might find ludicrous but we laugh, joke and banter about it whilst secretly spurring ourselves on to beat the other. The pause is the idea of them competing as twins.
There is a deep-seated fascination with twins which I’ve only really appreciated since becoming a mum to them. I’m sure a lot of people think it’s exactly the same as having two children similar in age but for so many reasons it definitely isn’t. There are things I will never experience as a mum to a newborn and a toddler, and those challenges are no more or less than those faced by parents of twins or multiples but they are different. When, for example you get stopped in the street for the twentieth time, and are asked the same (often incredibly personal) questions, or someone stands in front of your path so they can stick their head into the pram and tell you how their neighbours best friends sisters niece had twins it can be hard to maintain a reasonable level of enthusiasm for going out. Online shopping is undoubtedly a top ten hobby for parents of multiples, I’d stake money on that. Naturally as twins get older they start to hit their developmental milestones, and nine times out of ten one of them will be doing it slightly before the other. Each of them will always have a first (smile, tooth, clap, wave) but one of them will always be first at that specific thing. Recently my youngest twin (who has always been the bigger of the two) began to crawl and someone asked me if her sister had yet. When I said no, they cocked their head, gave me a pitying face and told me not to worry they would. Now I know that, Mr M knows that and anyone else who knows and loves our daughters also knows that because they are individuals first and foremost. They might be massively lucky to have a sibling born on exactly the same date and year, and they might as a result have an incredibly special bond but they are still two people with different abilities and personalities. The fact that one of them can’t quite crawl yet doesn’t make her less developed or behind in some way because she hasn’t yet. Whilst I’m sure that parents of children with age gaps can say one child was doing x at so many weeks compared to their sibling there is at least the benefit of the age gap, so each child gets judged on their own development as opposed to the baby who did it first.
I would hate to think that the success of my daughters is measured by who acheived what first as they grow up, and whilst it is always lovely to dress them in matching outfits and see them as the two halves of our whole I hope they are always first and foremost seen as the beautiful, wonderful individuals they are now and will continue to be. I hope that they never feel one achievement is less worthwhile because their sister did it slightly before them and I hope that those around them, myself included remember that it’s not always about the win but about the path you took to get there.
I continue to be fascinated and amazed every day by the changes I experience from both girls, individually and as a unit so I guess in this competition I’m already the winner.