The Truth About Raising Twins
Two girls, the same and opposite, finding their way through the world.
They say twins have a special relationship — a bond for life. Secret languages. Loads of inside jokes. A kind of telepathy even. Not true for my two girls. They were born just 14 minutes apart, but it might as well have been 14 years.
My first born, Mandy, is outgoing, energetic, and eternally optimistic. When she was a child, she loved nothing more than going to the park and picking marigold flowers with her friends. Little marigold adventures. Mandy loved horses too and would ask me questions like ‘why does God make the sun set when I’m having so much fun?’
Her twin sister, Fatty Oink Oink Poopface, was very different. Even as a young girl, she was quiet and introverted. She preferred books and TV to the great outdoors. When my wife and I would come to pick up the girls at the park, we’d have to pry Mandy away from her friends. Then we’d find Fatty Oink Oink Poopface alone on a solitary swing barely pushing off with one foot. It was never a problem getting her to come home.
It was difficult for our two girls to get along sometimes. Many twins insist on sleeping in the same bed until early adolescence; our girls wanted their own rooms by age six. Oh, our sweet little girls.
They grew up too fast. By the time Mandy turned 12, she was already boy crazy. Her bedroom walls were covered with posters of the latest boy band — her favorites changed too quickly for me to remember who was who. She formed a clique of friends who spent most of their time together, either in-person or over the phone. They rarely invited Fatty Oink Oink Poopface to join their activities, but that was fine with her.
She had her own life. Her room was painted black and covered with colorful, scribbled writings. Voodoo magic was her Justin Timberlake. I think Fatty Oink Oink Poopface was lucky enough to inherit her mother’s keen sense of humor. We had an inside-joke, just father and daughter, about how she hated me and would, one day, ‘poison’ my food. What was it now… I think, arsenic was her preference. I loved them both so much.
Then a school counselor called my wife and me into a meeting. She told us Fatty Oink Oink Poopface had a self-esteem problem. We were shocked.
When I look back on the news, I shouldn’t have been so surprised. She had the soul of a poet. Sensitive. Deeply self-reflective. Some of the greatest artists in the world went through depressions, and Fatty Oink Oink Poopface was no different. Still, we took the news seriously.
The counselor told us it was important to show our love equally, never displaying any favoritism. At the time, I scoffed. I felt threatened by someone questioning my parenting, and I became defensive immediately. It was inappropriate, but what loving parent can stand being put on trial for loving their children.
My wife was far more understanding. She set me straight, and we started really listening to our daughter about things and stuff. We also recruited Mandy.
Mandy’s self-esteem was like a rock-fortress, and we thought we knew why. She had a plethora of confidence-building extra-curricular activities like cheerleading, glee club, and student government. We pushed her to include Fatty Oink Oink Poopface in her various groups. We figured if it worked for one twin, it would work for the other. They were almost exactly the same, after all.
We couldn’t have been more wrong. Fatty Oink Oink Poopface just wasn’t her sister. If anything the new extracurriculars made her self-esteem issues even worse. She quit all of them, and went back to doing her own thing. This time, we gave her our full support. You try to do your best as a parent, but children don’t come with a manual.
Of course, the self-esteem issues worked themselves out. Like most crises, it seemed like the end of the world at the time but turned out to just be a phase.
Now they’re both about 30. I’m writing this little piece in the home Mandy’s husband, billionaire astronaut Greg Dexter, bought us. She has her own career, just to keep her busy. I think she’s given herself some title like CEO at the social media company she started. Typical Mandy.
Fatty Oink Oink Poopface has her own list of achievements. Her third novel just came out. It’s got some artsy title to it, something like ‘Bitter, Depressed, Alone — Going Up As Fatty Oink Oink Poopface,’ whatever makes the Illiterati happy. And her husband’s prison sentence has been reduced because of good behavior, I can’t wait to meet that young man.
My twin girls are still as different as night and day, but that’s all right. I love them both equally, but that doesn’t mean I love them the ‘same.’
What’s the lesson of my little life experience?
Don’t pay attention to how your children are supposed to be, pay attention to who they are. Mandy and Fatty Oink Oink Poopface are identical twins, but their similarities are only skin-deep. They pioneered their owns paths, and I’m so proud of both of them.