Thursday, February 9, 2012

Twins in competition

One of our sons--Salem-- just succeeded at the potty for the first time. (Jon gets some credit, too.) We were all very excited, and I brought Jack out to see what his brother had done, and set them free to roam the front rooms. I even got out the new box of crayons (bought to replace the chewed-up half crayons), and offered Salem a prize for his success. All the books recommend this type of prize. He was very excited, but so was Jack, who also wanted a crayon, and pushed his way to the box.

What's a twin parent to do?

Well, give them each a new crayon, naturally.

If you have a singleton, it makes sense to only reward them when they clearly suceed, or try darn hard. But with twins, rewarding one so clearly and obviously makes the other feel left out, punished; I could see it on Jack's face; he seemed to be wondering if he also deserved a crayon. Well, clearly he didn't, but I treated the whole event like a party to which he was invited, and he too got a door prize, though the clear "winner" was Salem, who got first choice of the new box of crayons.

I'd rather foster a sense of cooperation than competitiveness, so giving each a crayon makes sense. Also, it's clear to me that they both understand how to work together, learn from each other.

For example, Tuesday I was reclining on the beanbags in their playroom, waiting for Daddy. Jack ran up and started playing with my glasses, and when I took them off & pocketed them, he looked at me thoughtfully. Then he ran behind the couch to Salem, they conversed briefly and giggled. Jack came running back out, came back to me, and sat where he'd been sitting, on my left. Salem then joined us, rushing to my right, distracting me with an adorable "Hi!" and then lying down on my hip. (Just so adorable.) Jack was out of arms' reach with my glasses before I knew what was happening.

They coordinated a simple distract-and-grab, Jack picking my pocket for the prize glasses while Salem worked his toddler wiles on me. The oldest con in the book.

I feel that I can apply this cooperative effort to potty training. I remember seeing a Dateline about the McCaughey sextuplets (the first to survive), and reading about them in Time or Newsweek. The mom had 6 potties, all lined up with kids on them, and when one went wee-wee he got a cookie. The others, seeing this, quickly followed suit and soon she had 6 trained toddlers.

This is the lottery ticket twins -- and twin parents -- draw. Raising twins means a lot of repeated work; we might as well draw from the benefits offered by a permanent playmate, and teach them to learn from each other. By this I mean everyone celebrates the victories, however small, and hopefully they will work together to get more crayons.