Wednesday, 29 February 2012
I had a mother of a singleton tell me all about how her little one, who attends the same kindy as my two, gets really diabolical when he gets together with a close friend of his. "It's as though they set out to make mischief," she said to me. Watching my two boys "sitting" on the mat, "listening" to the teacher (actually, they were sitting almost on top of each other and giving each other surreptitious punches designed to not alert the teacher to their naughty behaviour), I came to the realisation that every day is like that for a mom of twins. I call it the "Henchman Factor" - the necessity of having a sidekick for every hero, that associate who forms the perfect foil for the hero's escapades.
And how much better a henchman could one desire than an identical twin, one who is so similar to you in every possible way? When the boys were young, people always asked us the inevitable twin questions: Which one is the leader? Which one is the follower? Are their personalities very different? These are questions every mother of a set of twins gets asked, every time they step out of the house with their two. I have never found an easy answer to the questions, though. Of course, if I was clever, I would just answer "I don't know" or "no" to the above, and get out of the supermarket about twice as fast as usual, but I always find myself mulling over the responses and trying to give an honest answer.
I am not sure if anyone else has experienced the same with their twins, but I have found that the personalities of my two little henchmen are very fluid. On any given day, the answer to any of the questions will never be the same. I have come to the conclusion that the twins actually swap roles on a whim. It's almost as though they discuss it beforehand, perhaps deliberating it over the heads of their stuffed animals in their beds at night. I imagine the conversation goes something like this:
Sam: Okay, let's get a status report on the twin syndrome.
Paddy: Well, for the first quarter of yesterday, I was the leader. I masterminded the drawing on the trampoline with chalk, and I told you to swing on the sheets on the washing line.
Sam: Implications of that?
Paddy: Well, Mama is under the impression that you are the angel child.
Sam: Can't have that, now, can we?
Paddy: Okay, this is the plan: you can be leader tomorrow and I will play angel child.
Sam: Agreed, but I think, just to mix things up a little, let's also swap personalities.
Sam: Well, you have been whiner for quite a long stretch now. You have also been the drama king. Let's shake that up a bit.
Paddy: Okay. I'll be the brave little gentleman. You screech when you see the cat under the dining room table and refuse to walk down the stairs without holding onto Mama's hand. Better yet, make her carry you!
(They give each other the twin look. Both laugh diabolically.)
And sure enough, just when I think I have a handle on the differences between them (I usually have told someone a major difference that I have noticed), the little wretches go and mess up my classification system. The other day, I told the kindy teachers that if they wanted to tell which one was which, it would always be Paddy who would be bound to throw himself dramatically on the floor at the slightest setback. Only to arrive at kindy the next day to all the teachers calling Sam by the name Paddy, since he had been the most dramatic that day.
Ahhh, the pleasures of having a trusty sidekick!