Since pretty early on in my pregnancy, I’ve had a strange fear that Madeleine and Reid wouldn’t like each other. Or, more accurately, that they wouldn’t end up being close and having a cool ‘twin bond’ like so many twins seem to have. I hear stories all the time about twins who are very close and who play together and have their own little language and feel sad when the other one is hurt. I’ve heard stories of toddler twins who cry when they’re apart, school-age twins who are best friends, and even a set of teenage twins who still like to cuddle if they’ve had a rough day. It’s usually the first question I ask other twin moms I come across now – “are your twins close?!“. I know other families’ experiences have nothing to do with ours, but a twenty-something cashier at H&M told me last week that his fraternal twin brother was his soul mate and I almost cried right there in the lineup.
Madeleine has always had a bit of an affinity for her brother – even back when she was in the NICU. But Reid never seemed to notice his sister much, and with a few exceptions, they mostly just developed separately without paying each other much attention. I figured that it was probably totally normal, but I secretly wondered if mine would be the twins who didn’t really have a special relationship. I wondered if it was because they only spent 25 weeks in the womb together, and then spent a few months in the hospital completely apart. I thought maybe it was because they were fraternal, or because they were boy/girl, or maybe because I hadn’t encouraged them to play together. And then Reid began hitting and biting Madeleine and making her cry, and I was convinced – these two probably wouldn’t be very good friends. Any admiration Maddie had for her brother would surely start to dissipate after a few more whacks in the face!
We’ve been working on teaching Reid about gentle touch vs. rough touch, that biting hurts and so does hitting. You can touch your sister gently if you’d like to get her attention, but I won’t let you hit her. And then he would hit her anyway, and I worried that he’d never get the message. Obviously I was going to end up having the kid in kindergarten who pulled all the girls’ hair and hit any kid who tried to take his toy away.
And then, during lunch the other day, Reid reached out to Madeleine, put his head on her shoulder and gave her a big hug. I can’t really say with any certainty that she enjoyed it, but Reid was so happy, and he’s started to do it more and more since then. Now, when they’re together, they will crawl around and chase each other, babbling to one another and giggling. When we put them to bed at night, sometimes they chit chat so much I think I might need to separate them. And if Reid falls asleep while Maddie still wants to talk? She will stand at the end of the crib closest to Reid’s and yell at him, as if to say, “wake up, Brother, I’m not done yet!”. (At this point, I do separate them, because SLEEP TIME IS SACRED TIME, MADELEINE!)
Reid still hits Maddie, and Maddie still cries. They still grab each other’s toys, and freak out if one of them gets picked up while the other one doesn’t. They still spend a lot of time playing alone, but together, and sometimes it still feels like they don’t even realize that the other one exists. But now I think they might be soul mates too one day. A built-in companion they’ve literally never lived without.