1.13.2010

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.....?

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