Someday My Prince

Delaney and Hayden have recently discovered the world of fairy tales through the movie Thumbelina.

I still remember the original Hans Christian Andersen film: "Thumbelina, what's the difference if you're very small? When your heart is full of love, you're nine feet tall."

But this remake features new music by the unlikely ensemble of Barry Manilow, Charo and Carol Channing. Try tuning into this more than once a day, starting before you've even had your coffee.

The story's [basically] the same: a diminutive gal finds her handsome Prince, but must dodge a tap-dancing Beetle and an aggressively lonely Mole, or else risk getting frozen in an ice cube.

Or something like that.

Finally they promise to live happily ever after -- "or longer," as Prince Cornelius says optimistically.

My Inner Feminist is thinking that I ought to try to correct this picture for both Delaney and Hayden. Why isn't the Prince conflicted about his own pint-sized-ness?

Why isn't he put through the wringer to fit in and ultimately accept himself for who he is?

Why can't Thumbelina say, "thanks for promising me forever, but right now I'm happy to be living in the moment?"

But then, my Inner Child reminds me that these are young imaginations at work, being inspired by the magic of Disney (which truthfully, despite feminist theory, I'm all in favor of). I'm betting that if Determined Delaney sets out, on the verge of her third birthday, to find a Prince that measures up to the standard being created in her mind (if not in everyday reality) by her twin brother, she'll do just fine.

But I like so much more the legend of the Frog Prince told by Peter Mayle in "French Lessons." Apparently the poor trapped amphibian told his princess that, if she would only kiss him and bring him out of his froggy-spell, he would make her his wife. She would cook for him, clean for him, have his kids, put up with his mother and make life generally good for all. Happily ever after.

Sure, she said. Sounds great.

And then she had frog legs (with plenty of garlic) for dinner.

Bon appetit, and may your prince be right there by your side.


Twice is Nice, but To Each Their Own

This Christmas gave us another opportunity to reflect on gender stereotypes, what it means to have Twins, and the continued relevance of Dear Abby.

Without prompting (we swear), Delaney decided she wanted Santa to bring her a Baby with a Bottle. Hayden decided he wanted an Airplane, with an Airport.

We (Mike, me, and my Mom) discussed (debated) the idea of getting Twin Dolls, one for each, a Boy and Girl. Ultimately I ruled it out. The conversation went something like this:

Mom: American Girl makes Boy and Girl Twin Dolls, and a Twin Stroller. You can choose the hair and eye coloring to be just like Delaney and Hayden's. Would they like those?

Mike: Hayden doesn't need a doll. He wants an airplane.

Me: But shouldn't we encourage boys to play with dolls and girls to play with airplanes?

Mike: Yes, but Hayden didn't ask for a Baby with a Bottle, and Delaney doesn't want an airplane.

In the end, the idea of buying two dolls just because they were life-like twins (cute though they were) seemed to diminish the one strong, well-articulated desire that each child had for his own toy.

Writer and identical twin Abigail Pogrebin tackles the "separate but duplicate" challenge that twins face in a new book, One and the Same: My Life as an Identical Twin and What I've Learned About Everyone's Struggle to be Singular.

I'm looking forward to reading Ms. Pogrebin's insights about being a twin and being your own person, too. I'll admit I haven't spent much time focused on issues of twinship-beyond the complexities of their parenting.... Challenges like getting on (staying on) the same sleep schedules. Whether they should share a room or not. How to keep them from passing colds back and forth. That sort of thing.

But issues of their twin-fluenced identity -- uniquely individual and uniquely linked forever -- didn't register until I had to help Santa decide between one doll or two.

Did I make the right decision? Hard to tell. Delaney ADORES her
babydoll, which does indeed have eyes and hair like hers. She totes "Baby" around wherever she goes.

The airport and airplane, on the other hand, take their place among rotating blocks and lego's and kid versions of heavy machinery and farm equipment. Girl stuff/boy stuff, but in the end they both play with it all.

So I guess that's the answer -- at least for now. Bring it on, and identities will sort themselves out.

If I'm wrong, Ms. Pogrebin has a new "Dear Abby" column on her website. I'm thinking I'll be a frequent visitor.

Dear Abby... why oh why won't these babies sleep all night in their own beds.....?


Hang On

Look, Laney. There's That Man.

That's not a Man, Hayden. That's a Prince. Like you.

Somewhere between Christmas and New Year's, between Los Angeles and Roatan, Delaney stopped calling her brother "Aynee" (rhymes with "heinee") and started calling him
Hayden. Her Prince.

Some things just creep up on you, like this evolution in speech and perspective. Like the all-of-a-sudden ability to climb our 10-feet-tall wrought-iron gates, and the equally startling ability to dress and undress themselves.

Like a new interest in dress-up
and magic slippers.

Like the trillions of marching wee-wee ants, that invade with alarming masses. Armed and ready for battle, against the oncoming storm.

"Lluvia," warns Senor Gomez, our gardener. The rain is coming.

The ants overwhelm and inspire. How is it that Mother Nature foreshadows so much? How is it that time marches on so quickly, just like these darn ants? We can pretend to slow their invasion, but ultimately they wriggle their way in.

Our babies aren't babies anymore. They are Prince and Princess, of their own imaginations and lightening-swift movements. With their own pitter-patter and their own happy endings.

By comparison, the rain is slow to come.