When I was about 12 years old, my older brother threw a remote at my head. Guess what happened? I got in trouble! He did too. And neither of us was fazed. This was just one incident in years of fighting. Siblings do this. They have a sibling rivalry, it’s normal. I love my brother. I loved him then. I love him even more now. (I actually have two brothers. I promise I love my
little younger brother too. He just happens to not be a part of this story.) We were only 13 months apart so there was rarely a time when there was a Dale without a Heather. Only 1 year apart in school, we often had the same friends and were frequently confused as twins. We mixed his Legos with my Barbies and spent hours playing together in the basement. Lots of love, lots of fighting. That right there is the definition of sibling rivalry.
Growing up, there was plenty of time for jealousy. He was more popular than I was. I got better grades than he did. He played sports. I got to go to summer camp. Back and forth. We each had our own world but always had an urge to have what the other had. So yes, you can say I am quite the expert on jealousy in siblings.
There is something rare and awesome and special about twins. Dale and I, while very close in age were still always at a different milestone as kids. As I took my first step, he was learning to climb stairs. As I took the training wheels off my bike, he had already moved on to skateboards and rollerblades. With twins though, there’s often only a few weeks, if any, delay between these big moments. My girls have never had a day between their big moves. They rolled simultaneously, they lurched into a crawl within hours of each other, and they took steps: one morning, one night. They walked right across the room mere minutes from each other. They are learning to talk now and often teach words to each other. The connection they share is something I will never understand but plan on studying the rest of my life.
But boy oh boy, that connection means one BIG thing. They are super, uber, ridiculously jealous of one another. Not sure what multiples can be jealous of? Here’s a list of the sibling rivalry and jealousies:
· Me (everything from who is next to me, who is closer to me, who is on my lap, who I am talking to, etc.)
· Order (as in her diaper got changed before mine so I am going to stomp my feet and throw a hissy fit.)
· Equality (She got 3 crackers. I only have 2 ½.)
· Freedom (Why am I being held when she is walking?)
· Transportation (I want the left/right side of the stroller/car… It’s MY turn to be on mom’s back.)
· Sissy (Hold my hand Lily. Play with me Lily. Read this book Lily. Let me sit on your lap Lily.)
And that’s just the short list. I am fairly confident I could list over 1000 things that my girls are jealous of each other for. I don’t see it ending. But honestly, it’s not bad. It’s not like a jealous tantrum over everything. We have tricks to keep the multiples jealousy at bay.
How We Keep the Sibling Rivalry at Bay
1. We enforce turn taking strictly. I have to keep a mental count of which baby got tucked in first, changed first, milk first, etc. etc. They are still too little to correct me so it’s okay if I slip up sometimes but I am extra aware of being fair.
2. We treat them as individuals. They are identical twins, obviously but that does not define anything else about them. I know that one likes eggs more than the other. But I also know that if I give fewer eggs to the one that I know won’t eat as many, she will get very upset. So we have work arounds. We give them equal amounts and when one wants more and the other is all done, we ask her to share with her sister. She LOVES to do this so instead of having a huge jealous fight over one getting more eggs in the beginning, we are rewarded for our efforts and cunning ways by seeing the sweetness that is twin love.
3. Even though many parents swear against it, we almost always dress them in coordinating clothes. I prefer that they aren’t in identical outfits (mostly so that I can tell them apart) but if one has a skirt on and the other has shorts on, I’ll hear about it. They’ll fuss and pull at each other’s outfits. It’s crazy. Same with toys. I really hate having two of the exact same toy. It seems like a waste of money because they will just inevitably fight over the same one anyway but every once in a while I can trick them into playing with similar toys that are alike enough that they do the same thing but different enough that I don’t feel it was a waste.
Sibling rivalry and multiples jealousy are like two chapters in the same book. Growing up experiencing one, I thought for sure I could handle the other but honestly, I am reteaching myself all about it every day. I love my girls and can’t wait to see how they grow up and where their competitiveness takes them. All I know for sure right now though, is they have a bond that seems purely magical and brings me so much joy to talk and write about.
Tags: Heather C.