Thursday, 10 November 2011
Double, double, toil and ...
One thing about twins is that they always seem to want the same things at the same time. I am not sure if it is only identical twins like mine, or all twins, but if one has something, even though there are many other items of the same kind surrounding them, they will automatically want only the one that the other has.
I have often pleaded with mothers of kids attending our birthday parties to give exactly the same gift to each of the twins. "They need to be individuals" is something I have heard often enough from well-meaning parents. But when it comes time to opening presents, the boys get a glint in their eyes as they do a scan for whose present they like the best. It can be exactly the same present in different colours, they will still want only the one. And this leads to massive fights over who should be the one to have the favoured item first.
A classic example occurred yesterday: we were invited to go with the play-group to see a new exhibition at our local gallery. Some enterprising Granddad has spent about forty years of his life collecting and doing up bicycles of all shapes and sizes, and the result is one hundred sparkly new-looking bikes of all kinds of different persuasions. Not only are there multitudes of colours and paint jobs, but also every kind of bicycle-like contraption you can imagine. There are tricycles, two-wheeler bikes, trailers and scooters. There are bikes with pedals and bikes without, huge monster bikes and little tiny motorbikes. Basically every boy's idea of heaven. And not only are they allowed to look at the bikes, they are allowed to play with them too! There is a huge hall set aside for just this purpose, filled with kids on bikes careening around in circles. Life does not get better than this!
I was lulled into a false sense of security by the sheer amount of bikes on offer there - after all, I reasoned, amongst a hundred bikes, there must surely be a few that will catch the eyes of the twins, and peace will reign. I was taken completely by surprise then when the boys did a quick scan of the room full of bikes and unerringly and without any consultation with each other at all, headed for the same bike. To me, it seemed just like any of the other bikes in the room, no different or more spectacular. In a line-up, I could not have picked that bike out of the others that looked just like it. Yet this was the one they both wanted. Chaos ensued as each tried to put forward the arguments as to why they should have the bike in preference of the other. While all the other boys in the play-group had happily donned helmets and were sailing off around the room on their chosen bikes, mine each had hold of a handle of the same bike, and were screeching hysterically. None of my attempts to point out other bikes of equal interest ("Look, this one has flames on it - how cool is that?!") made even the slightest impression on them.
And so, for the next hour, I sat with first one then the other as they took turns riding the same bike around the room, while the other hundred bikes sat behind us, forlornly ignored.