Every now and then I get to thinking about the whole ‘twin thing’.
Out of the blue it struck me the other day… our girls are very rarely alone.
They spend probably 90% or more of their time together. They share a bedroom. They are in the same class at school. They play together. Often they even bath or shower together.
We work at making time for them to do things ‘apart’…. but even then they are not usually alone. They are with their brother or me or their father.
This is their choice. When given the chance to do something on their own they usually choose not to, though I admit they don’t often get the opportunity to be alone, even if they wanted to.
Is this normal for a six year old?
Is this just how it is when you are part of a family of five (soon to be six)?
I really quite like to spend time on my own. I relish an evening when The Baldy Boy is on night shift and the kids are all asleep and I can just be alone and do whatever. As a child I remember relishing the sanctuary of my bedroom, somewhere that was just mine, somewhere to be alone.
But I am not my children and my childhood is not their childhood, and most importantly, I am not a twin. I have no idea what it is like to be a twin. To have someone who is so much like you, who has always been there, who you know so well and who knows you back. I only have one sibling and I can’t say my brother and I have ever been close….
Maybe not being alone is normal for my girls?
Maybe being alone is not something they feel they need to do?
Maybe being alone is a completely alien concept to my girls?
When I broach the subject of them no longer sharing a room they burst into tears.
Of course this is just another version of the ‘together/apart’ debate which seems to constantly haunt me. There are ‘professionals’, not to mention a heap of books, that all push the line that they need to spend time apart. That we have to really encourage them to be individuals and to separate, that they have to be able to cope ‘on their own’.
While I think that learning to cope in the world on their own is important, I am not convinced that it is the be all and end all. I don’t feel that we have the right to choose when, where or how they separate, or to push them into doing it if they don’t want to. Sure, there are times when they have no choice but to be apart, and we are working on helping them deal with that, but I am not sure they need to be apart to be ‘normal’ or to be ‘happy’.
But is having some ‘alone’ time the same thing?
Do they need time alone to unwind? de-stress?
I find all of this so tricky. I have no idea what it’s like to be a twin and most books and professionals who spout advice about this don’t either. Child development and parenting books and theories are based on your average singleton child. Being a twin, an identical twin, is different. It stands to reasons that twins would be different in some ways, especially socially and emotionally, but are those differences bad? Or is it reasonable and healthy to expect children who are genetically the same (98.9 % the same in our case) and have had pretty much the same life experiences to be pretty much the same and to not need the same ‘apart/alone time’ that others do?
As usual I come up with way more questions than answers.
Why oh why isn’t there some magical book that will tell me how to figure out this tricky stuff, because really I have no darn idea!
(Image above is of the girls their first week at home – they were 11 weeks)
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I have girlfriends who Re twins. They stuck together all through highschool. They then moved away together and went to Uni together and they now live together in Brisbane. They lived with their brother for a little while but that didn’t work out and now their back to a twosum.
I’m another who relishes alone time. But here’s another question for you – is this natural? If you look at hunter/gatherer societies people are rarely alone because it is dangerous. While I don’t like biological determinism, surely this shows that there’s nothing inherently wrong with never being alone – it has been normal for most of our history.
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As a quad, I can only talk about being one of 4, which is a different dynamic than twins, probably less intense. I’m not great at being alone and I wonder how much of that is because of so much together time as a kid with The Others. Mum made a big effort to split us up as kids – we had a special friend we’d all go and visit separately one afternoon a week the year before school. We took individual holidays to my grandparents place in Sydney (I remember loving these, Mum tells me I never wanted to go.) I also really don’t like feet at all which I’m sure must have to do with three other sets of feet kicking me in the womb. Surely. But honestly: I miss my sisters all the time now. I’d give your girls every minute of together time they want – time will come when they’ll inevitably do their own thing and it won’t be practical for them to share a room (although one sister and I hung out as housemates for a LONG time. Boys eventually won out though.)
I’d say two things Kate:
1. You’re their mama, and no book, teacher or expert knows them better than you do.
2. The world is a big place, and six is still small.
Tannah is only away from her sisters if they are having a day sleep-which is getting less and less. She eats, sleeps, baths, plays and goes to her grandmothers with at least one sister.
I think it goes with the territory of having siblings-but is probably more intense for twins.
Your girls are happy to be together-enjoy it while it lasts I say!
I guess in the absence of a definitive answer you let them decide….
I think there are plenty of people who cannot be by themselves ever (as in they hate being alone). I’ve always thought that was kind of unhealthy but then again we all obviously have different needs from one another. I love my alone time and always have… But as you say I am not a twin. I can imagine that it could feel unnatural to be apart from your identical twin who was essentially your other half at conception..