Childrearing

Twinning: My Twins Have A Love/Hate Relationship

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It wasn’t until they were five years old that my twins started physically fighting with each other—wrestling, punching, kicking and hair-pulling. I was surprised because we’d peacefully sailed through the stages that my childrearing books predicted twin arguing would occur in. What was even stranger to me was that they often seemed to enjoy fighting—it was more like “rough playing” between bear cubs. I’d say about 80 percent of their “play” involved some kind of physical fighting. If they were within a foot of each other, they’d hug/grapple, then fall to the ground and kick away at each other. They’d kick, roll around and laugh the whole time. Since they weren’t actually having a fight, there was nothing for me to settle, and so splitting them up was harder than if they were really fighting.

But even if their physical arguments didn’t always involve an actual quarrel, they almost always ended with someone getting hurt. I saw more bloody noses that year than a boxing trainer. There was no way to stop the fighting without separating my twins—one in the living room and one in the family room, etc. Surprisingly, after five minutes or so of separation, they would seem to forget about the huge wrestling match they’d just engaged in and would whine to be allowed to play together again.

Suddenly I was the bad guy for keeping them apart.

I’m the type of mom who learns as she goes, so initially I gave in—“Okay, you can both go upstairs if you promise not to fight.” (Yeah right.) And two minutes later, someone was complaining about being kicked or punched in the nose. This behavior got so bad and was so constant that I actually instituted a “No Touching” rule—prohibiting them from even hugging, which was so easily turned into a grapple by my twins that I almost forgot it was a sign of affection.

My twins are six now and while fighting is still a problem, the arguments are more frequently verbal than physical. Both Allie and Nick understand their own strength, and how much they could hurt the other one. They’ve taken enough punches from each other to know they’d like to avoid them as well. While they’ve gone back to playing together, drawing together, and now reading together, they’ve also taken to ganging up on me, as they realized that it’s easier to get away with things like flinging peas around the kitchen if they’re both doing it. These are certainly not my favorite moments, but for now, if nobody’s getting punched in the nose, I’m not going to argue.

(photo: OKSun / Shutterstock)

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