Two for the price of one

by DaniGirl on November 19, 2007 · 11 comments

in Mothering without a licence

We didn’t plan to space Tristan and Simon 22 months apart. In fact, we didn’t really plan for Simon at all – not that it wasn’t a blissful surprise. But when I think back to those early days, with a newborn and a not-quite-two-year-old in the house, I shake my head and wonder how we all survived with our sanity intact.

Now, of course, I’m glad they are so close in age. They are best buddies (when they aren’t mortal enemies) and most of the time, we simply treat them as if they were the same age. They have the same bedtime (in beds in the same room), the same routines, the same expectations and the same standards of behaviour. While this probably makes for a bit of a challenge sometimes for Simon, if you were to ask him I’m sure he’d tell you there is nothing his brother can do that he can’t do too, if not better.

It’s easy to forget, sometimes, that he’s two years younger. They play the same games, enjoy the same activities and watch the same shows and movies. They were both enrolled in swimming lessons at their respective levels during the same time slot, and went to the same day camp together. Right now, they’re even both going to school in the afternoons, Tristan to SK and Simon to his nursery school – which I think gives them a well-needed break from their near-constant companionship.

Can you see I’ve got a bit of a neurotic thing going on about ensuring equal treatment? One doesn’t usually get something that the other one doesn’t, whether it’s a toy or a treat or an experience. While this wasn’t exactly intentional on my part, it has evolved into a bit of an unwritten rule around the house to the extent that I didn’t enroll Tristan in skating lessons this winter in part because we’ve already got a load on our plates for this year, but also partly because I couldn’t swing it for both of them.

This equal treatment thing is becoming a little unmanageable as they move out into the big world of socializing, too. Because they have the same friends and enjoy the same activities, they get invited to playdates and parties together… most of the time. Now, though, for the first time, Tristan is being invited to the birthday parties of his classmates – and of course, there is no invitation for Simon. I feel bad for Simon, and while I’ve reassured him that there will come a time when he gets invited to parties that Tristan can’t attend, I’ve also promised him that he and I will do something special together while Tristan is off at these parties.

What’s more awkward, though, is when family friends have invited Tristan along to an activity without including Simon. I haven’t yet said, “Sure, Tristan would love to come tobogganning / to the movies / to your house for the afternoon – as would Simon!” because up until now Simon was not quite as independent (read: potty trained!) as his brother. Now that they’re both less needy and have more or less the same abilities, I would like to see them both included – but I have to keep reminding myself that they are two independent creatures and not a package deal.

It will be interesting to see how the arrival of baby turns the dyad into a triad, especially with four years between Simon and Baby. One thing I know for sure: it’s going to be a lot easier to take care of a newborn without having a needy toddler in the house!

(Ha! Just as I was about to publish this post, Beloved called me and said, “I think we’re in trouble. I thought we had a few years before they’d be eating like this.” Tristan had just finished his SECOND bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, while Simon was eating a couple of waffles and a bowl of fruit and looking for something else. Yikes!)


{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Barbara November 19, 2007 at 9:11 am

I wonder if in a while you won’t be posting how fabulous it is when Tristan is off at a party and Simon home or vice versa because of the chance it gives you to talk with the one who is left behind. Maybe it is because I have an only but was the last of 6, but I think that one-on-one time is a blessing of an only and that people with more than one miss out on this. (I miss out on the “look at the kids playing – more or less nicely – together” while I visit with Ken and other things, I’m know.) Now, to explain to the one not at the party that it’s a good thing, well… Good luck.

2 Alissa November 19, 2007 at 10:08 am

My mom had to remind me just this weekend that “age has it’s privileges” when I protested Drew getting to drive the golf cart much more than Nicky was allowed (even though Nick is obviously not very good at it).

I, too, tend to treat them as equals, even though they’re two years apart. But now, at 6 and 4, it’s getting more and more difficult to do so. Drew has school and friends and activities that Nick doesn’t, and sometimes I feel bad for the little brother. I imagine next year, though, it’ll be easier when the little one is in school and making his own friends and doing his own stuff.

I can’t imagine adding a baby to the mix!

3 patois November 19, 2007 at 11:26 am

With a son and daugther 20 months apart, we had them blissfully together, but not that they’re 9 and 11, and really since they were about 8 and 6, their desires are markedly different. Sadly, the youngest is totally left whining behind on both their adventures.

4 Roz November 19, 2007 at 12:20 pm

Your post brought back VIVID memories of my childhood. I have a sister who is 2 years my junior and my parents would ALWAYS send her to any party and play date that i was invited to. READ: MMMYYYY Friends!

I was so ticked off that i would have to let my little sis *tag* along with me wherever i went. This continued…(wait for it)…until i was in HIGHSCHOOL and when my boyfriend would pick me up in his car to go to school, my parents FORCED me to let my sister come with me.

For CRISSAKE, give me some space!!

ok, done venting :)…just wanted to give you a possible perspective from the older kid’s point of view…

My point is that although i’m sure my parents didn’t want my little sister to feel left out, i don’t think it did much for her self-esteem to know that other people were being forced to include her.

5 yvonne November 19, 2007 at 12:52 pm

I am just now learning that as a parent I need to give my kids what they need, not the same things as each other. They need to understand that parenting is not always about keeping things exactly the same for each child. You would not buy glasses for both children just because one child needs them. I would allow Tristan the time to be independent and enjoy the one-on-one with Simon. he will be grateful for some mommy time as well.

6 Fryman November 19, 2007 at 2:11 pm

OK – you have hit a pet peeve of mine, so if I preach and jump on the worlds biggest soapbox…I’m sorry. Let me preface by saying I love my brother, and would do anything for him – then and now. But…..

I have to agree with Roz – there were many, many times when I absolutely hated my parents, and unfortunately by association my brother, due to his inclusion in the vast majority of things I/we did – bed time, friends, activities, toys, etc.. I loved speding time with him, don’t get me wrong…just not ALL the time. We even got confused as twins – which is hard to believe considering we all know I am WAY better looking. The worst part is that, especially early on, he had no role in any of the decisions that drove me crazy but I would take it out on our relationship anyway – because it was easier and safer than fighting my parents. That being said, the good times significantly outweighed the struggles, but I only know this with the perspective of maturity and hindsight…..well, OK, just hindsight.

I also had an interesting time as I have an older sister who is closer in age but had everything different – bedtime, privileges, activities, etc. It drove me batty!! I actually once wrote an essay/manifesto to my parents explaining that, in case they didn’t notice, I was closer to my sister in age than my brother, and hence deserved the same and more advantages over my brother due to our wider age gap. All it got me was the right to mow the lawn instead of him, but you get the point.

I know you know this, but take it from someone who has lived it. They are not the same age, personality, intelligence, etc. etc. Never will be, in fact. I know this cause I am still WAY smarter than my brother.
Personally, I would work harder at carving out an identity for each of them than enforcing equality. There will always be opportunities for togetherness, companionship, and equality — they really come naturally. As far as I am concerned, the much more challenging and parental skill testing route is to take opportunities like the skating lessons, single invitations, etc. to make sure they know that they are unique and separate and respected for it. It means more time invested, more juggling of schedules, and sometimes more money. But it will give them the confidence to stand out on their own.

Well, except in the case of my brother, who still hero worships me and wants to be just like his big brother…..but can ya blame him?

7 DaniGirl November 19, 2007 at 2:36 pm

Wow.

First, wow to Roz: I cringe to imagine going quite *that* far on the equal behaviour schtick. Forced your younger sister along even in high school? Yikes! Thanks for the perspective check — it hadn’t yet occurred to me that Tristan might take issue with this some day, although I’m quite sure it hasn’t yet become a problem for him. The key word, of course, being “yet”.

And Fryman – wow. You know that you’re my primary model for the brothers-close-in-age relationship, and I’m truly blown away by your comment. Honestly, I had no idea — and of course, all those years I also saw you and your brother as equals (and I am SO not getting into the who was smarter / cuter / the better kisser questions!) and maybe that’s even had an influence on my thinking now. What you said about taking it out on your brother because it was “safer” than fighting your parents – that may have saved some of us *years* of therapy bills!

When I was thinking about writing this post, it was mostly Simon’s perspective I was considering – how it’s harder to be the littler one, and how our expectations are higher for him (and how he’s holding up to our standards remarkably well). Even though I’m older, there are so many years – and the gender thing – between my brother and I that I never really thought about the issue as problematic from Tristan’s perspective.

Huh. You guys have given me a lot to think about!

8 Sharon November 19, 2007 at 2:43 pm

Always late with my comments but hey. I have to agree with Roz and Fryman. I ablsoultely hated taking my sister with me everywhere. Now don’t get me wrong I love my sister now, and don’t mind hanging with her anytime but there was a 6 year age diff and I think My mom just wanted a momnet of peace and quite but I hated dragging her along. I felt I was beign treated unfairly for sure.
I’m sure it’s not a problem now but very soon it will be. Make sure they have their own playdates and friends and stuff to do. Hard I know but it fosters independence and a sense of self.
And they will remain best buds.

9 Laura November 19, 2007 at 3:14 pm

Oh – I can so relate to this post – my boys are less than a year apart. I find myself trying so hard to make things equal! Now we have three and there is 26 months between the 2nd boy and little girl.

What amazes me is that each child is so very different. It is so wonderful to see them becoming their own person, and also having that special connection of being close.

I really appreciated your post – thanks!

10 Jerri Ann November 19, 2007 at 8:19 pm

My boys are 22 months apart and I catch us doing the exact same things…we shall see if it gets better or worse with age but we will NOT be adding a third to the mix. Congratulations to you, enjoy!

11 nancy November 20, 2007 at 9:41 am

As a twin mom, I’ll quickly add that I can hardly wait for one to get invited to a b-day party or playdate WITHOUT the other. I think it develops a respect for the other’s life, own little mini-society, etc. BUT the thing I am most excited about it getting to spend a special one on one time with him (whomever he may be). I will use that time to do something fun just the TWO of us, and not always including the other.

There are of course SO many positives to the same routines, rules, expectations, etc., which is also why it is nice for them to each have something different.

I will also add that my nieces are 4 years apart and it drives me crazy how the younger one has the same expectations/rules as the older one. Sometimes I wonder if they forget she is that much younger and creating a too mature environment for her too soon.

xoxo

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