Saturday, 4 August 2012

BF4EVA (Or Best Friends Forever, for those who don't talk text)

To have a twin is to have a best friend for life.  If you are lucky, that is - some twins I know fight like cat and dog.  I am one of the lucky moms - my twins are inseparable: one of those dyads you read about who feel each other's pains and stand up for each other in fights.  This has not been without its own set of complications, however.

For the last few weeks, I have noticed that Sam has not been as happy at kindy as he was previously.  He has been clingy when I try to leave, crying at night that he doesn't want me to leave him alone at kindy by himself.  This, for Sam, is highly unusual.  He is confident and outgoing, loves to approach other kids and is eager to form groups to play.  Of course, the first thing that went through my mind is that he was being bullied. I am not sure that I would handle a situation like that well, to be honest.  In fact, the exact phrase that went through my mind (although not printable in a family-related blog like this) was something like "if I catch the little sod that is hurting my boy, I will make him wish that ...etc, etc..."). Anyway, after much suspicious and devious questioning on my part, I established that, mystifyingly, there was no bully.  Great!  But also, what could it be that was upsetting him?  For ages, I tried every psychologist's technique in the book to try to get him to tell me what was going on, but with little success.  He just didn't want to go, he was unhappy, and so on.

This continued for about a week and a half.  I dropped them off at kindy as usual, but stayed just that bit extra, making sure they were settled, playing games and finding things for them to do so that when I eventually left, they would be absorbed in what they were doing.  But nine times out of ten, as I headed for the gate, the forlorn little figure of Sam would be standing alone in the midst of a crowd, mournfully watching me go.  It was enough to break my heart.

Then, one day when I was there to pick them up a little early, I noticed that, sitting between my two boys on the mat was a little usurper.  A girl.  After mat time was finished, Paddy came rushing up to me.  "This is Eva," he crowed.  "She is my best friend here at kindy," he announced proudly.  And then it hit me.  Sam, whose whole life revolved around Paddy, had suddenly been confronted with the fact that his brother had other friends, and that he was now the odd man out.  The piggy in the middle.  The third wheel.  They had always interacted with their friends as a dyad, and now, here was Paddy going off and making a friend of his own.  What a hard knock for such a little boy (and such a sensitive one at that, too) to take.  

But worse, how to put it right?  Of course they will make friends in their lives, and there is a good chance that those friends will not be friends equally with both twins.  I fretted for days, before eventually speaking gently to Paddy about having his brother as his best friend and other friends as just friends, then speaking to Sam about how he should try to make friends with other kids at kindy. In other words, I was generally not doing anything that was of much use at all.

In the end, the situation resolved itself.  One day, when picking up the twins from kindy, Sam bounced into the car, bright and happy.  I was very relieved and asked him what had happened that day.  
"I decided to change my mind," he declared definitively.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"I just thought I was tired of being sad, and I changed my mind to be happy instead," he said.  "People like it better if you are a happy person," he added.

Wow, I thought.  Imagine if we adults could just change our minds like that? What could we achieve?

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