Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Virtual Twins

Christmastime in Houston, December 2010

How old are your kids?

I get asked this all the time. Do you? I guess it's an easy, innocuous conversation starter that can go in any direction depending on the number cited in reply: just commiserate about (or celebrate) the quirks of that particular stage, and you're off.

But I digress.

When people ask me my kids' ages, I say, "Two of them are eight and one of them is nine." (At least I'll say that until this Friday when my oldest will turn 10.) Then the questioner, as soon he or she gets over the shock of all my children being almost exactly the same age, invariably says this:

"Oh, you have twins?"

I never know how to respond to this, because effectively, yes, I have twins. They're in the same grade at the same school and participate in many of the same activities. They play hide and seek together. They bicker ferociously. They compete for my attention. They occasionally camp out on the floor in each other's bedrooms. They share friends.

But are they fraternal, or identical? Neither. They are three months apart in age, and one of them was born in China. For a pretty comprehensive take on what the virtual twins life is like, read this post on Raising Devils, which details some of the pitfalls, as well as the perks: I particularly appreciated the author's riff on Candyland ("I only had so many games of Candyland in me, and I my oldest child exhausted them five years ago"), which describes my usual position on the matter and reminded me of this quote from Anna Quindlen:

Maybe I had three children in the first place so I wouldn't ever have to play board games.* 

I actually like some board games quite a bit, but when it comes to some of the more excruciating (for me) activities of childhood (see tic tac toe), it's great to be able to say, "Go find your brother/sister. Maybe s/he wants to play!" Sometimes it even works.

Visiting the Bejing Zoo, July 2009
*From this essay, "The Good Enough Mother," which is totally me, or at least I like to think it is.

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