Back in my sanctimonious parent days, the ones before my twins were actually born, I made a ton of promises to myself. Most of them were about how great of a parent I would be. You know, the promises we all make before kids, about how well-behaved they will be. How I wouldn’t be my parents and my children would be angels! One such vow I made, was to never buy two of any toy.
Yes, my kids would be amazing sharers. Just like they shared the womb, they could share things like trains and cars amongst themselves while they smiled and called me ‘Puh-pah’ in adorable English accents they picked up somehow in Connecticut. It’s safe to say parenting went a lot smoother in my head.
Flash forward four years into parenting. Here I am, with a toy box resembling Noah’s Ark. Two of everything. My children never picked up those English accents. Big surprise, right? I wouldn’t use ‘angelic’ to describe them. The word ‘feral’ seems more fitting.
I don’t know what happened to my convictions. Oh, wait, yes I do. Twins. Twins happened. You see, I didn’t have to carry my kids in my belly. I didn’t feel the late night Fight Clubs they hosted. Being the dad, I snored through their battles for King of the Uterus. Turns out my kids have had troubles with sharing since conception.
When the boys became mobile and began to fight over a rattler, I made my first concession. As one wielded the noisemaker like a Louisville slugger, and his brother screamed louder than a pack of banshees, I brought out another rattler. The problem was, it wasn’t exactly the same as the rattler they were currently fighting over. This rendered it completely undesirable. In my new dad panic, I frantically searched for two toys that were the same. We had plenty of similar things from the baby shower, where everyone thought it would be so cute to buy us two of everything. The original disdain I had for two of everything turned into relief as I clutched two of the exact same toys and made my way to hand over the peace offerings to my children.
I knew the slippery slope of entitlement I began to slide down that day. I just didn’t care. I wanted the fighting to end without tears. Or bloodshed. I also began to realize, with frequent eye twitching due to lack of sleep, parenting wasn’t going to be as easy as I imagined it.
Over the years, I have conceded too many times to count. It happens. The learning curve for parenting is steep. My children are no more entitled than any other toddlers, even with their two of everything. I learned to look at the situation differently.
I like to foster independence with my twins. While sharing is very important and they are still very, very, bad at it, they each deserve to have their own things. I looked at it less as a parenting fail and more of a lesson. I wouldn’t tell my four-year-olds they needed to share one bed because they are twins. Why would I be different about their toys? In order to respect them individually, I needed to get them each their own things. Toys included.
So yes, we have two Thomas the Tank Engine trains. We have two of almost every single toy. They have similar interests, but they want and deserve their own things. We work on sharing and taking turns with other things. Like who gets to decide what’s on the television. Which for some reason, they’ve all but stopped sharing with me. I really miss television shows written for a demographic older than three to five. I guess it’s better than tears. Or bloodshed.
This post is part of a series of essays by the contributors to our second anthology, Multiples Illuminated: Life with Twins and Triplets, the Toddler to Twin Years. Subscribe to get new posts on your favorite reader as and when they’re published.
Briton Underwood better known as Punk Rock Papa is a parent above all else. When he gets sick of being at their beck and call, he likes to escape to his page or site. He writes about any and everything he wants, but mainly about his twin boys or his newest addition – another boy. He also would like the world to know he has a beautiful wife because the couch isn’t that comfy. Find him on his blog, Facebook, and Twitter.