Twin life, twin love

This is just too long for Facebook..

The girls have been begging us since Grade R to split them into different classes and we relented this year, now that they’re in Grade 2. (and Daniel in Grade 4. I have stocked up on wine and gin to get us through the workload)

My fellow twin Moms (and people that are twins themselves) will better understand the dynamic of being a twin, but it’s a whole different thing to even having siblings close in age.

They are literally attached at the hip. They hold hands when they walk, they sit, huddled together on the couch, they play silly games with rules only they understand (which, thankfully, they include their long-suffering brother in), they are always, at the very least, in each other’s peripheral vision. It’s like they orbit each other and is the most beautiful thing.

Bearing this in mind, I have been a little anxious about how they would cope by themselves. 

It’s in the little things, Isabel rushing Mignon to finish a task and sit on the couch with her. Their need to almost exclude everyone else so they can just BE with each other and soak up being together after being separated during a large part of the day.

We had some threatening tears last night at bedtime about how Isabel misses her sister, even though she looks like the tough twin, which just breaks my heart.

We’ll keep an eye on it and see how it unfolds and I’m sure they’ll be ok, but yoh, parenting is HARD. It’s so hard to find the balance between letting them make their own decisions and wanting to be there to catch them before they fall, especially when they’re still so young. 

PS. No. I haven’t blogged since September due to an issue with my right hand, not being able to type/bake/crochet and just general avoidance of writing and social media and the need to withdraw for a while. It’s been so good for the soul, I highly recommend it.

Parenting Daniel

Daniel presented us with his first written story tonight.

Last night he lined up his Lego figurines, got into bed with a notebook and a pen and told us he was writing a story with the figurines as inspiration.

I cannot even begin to tell you how proud this makes me. (And a little weepy)

He has come such a long way this year. He has overcome intense separation anxiety, bullying and some other challenges that are not for me to write about.

He is a funny, gentle, clever little man and we are incredibly blessed that he chose us to be his parents.

It is so good to hear him laugh his trademark belly-laugh again. Having twin sisters that are a tsunami of energy and noise at the best of times can also not be easy, I’m sure he feels excluded sometimes. Yet, the three of them are a unit. They stand up for each other, they giggle, they make up silly games. They love with abandon.

How did we get this lucky?

On raising twins


This morning I was all set to write a whiny post about how really outraged cross the girls made us last night and this morning.

Bear in mind that we had a rocky rainy weekend indoors with children that have selective hearing, so much so that I ended up feeling like Ms Rottenmeier.

Here’s what happened:
There is this beautiful, immaculately maintained antique dresser that was my Grandmother’s in the girls’ room. I can still remember the smell of her lavender perfume from when I was too small to reach my reflection in the mirror. It is one of the few things I have of hers, so it is really precious and sentimental to me. We took a risk putting it in their room as it is now adorned with the odd Hello Kitty sticker, but we have nowhere else to put it at the moment.

Last night, at bedtime, my eye fell onto the mirror and I noticed fine little cracks all over the inside of the glass. Weirdly, there are no dents on the surface. I was baffled.

I called Etienne and we stood there looking at the mirror that was still perfect yesterday morning, mystified. We look over at the girls and ask what happened, did someone throw something against the mirror by any chance. They both (more Isabel than Mignon) looked terribly guilty as only their transparent 5 year old faces can do, drilling toes into the ground and pulling their mouths and eyes just so.

They said they had no idea what happened. Then Isabel took the blame. Then Mignon took the blame. Then they blamed each other. After much cajoling it came out that they were throwing a hair clip against the mirror. We refused to read them a story, which is quite a punishment for them and told them that because they lied and lied again we would think about another punishment and that we were very, very disappointed and upset with them.

This morning we are all in the kitchen and I say that we have decided to ban them from all electronic devices until the weekend, thinking they would be very upset.

What do they do? They huddle together and giggle. GIGGLE. Etienne and I stared at each other, aghast. The little shits.

Banning one of them probably would have been terrible, but they are so enthralled by each other most of the time they really couldn’t care less.

Fast forward to this evening before swimming class and we are all home. They are such a joy to watch, wrapped up in each other and their own little games. It is the most precious thing to see these beautiful little people interact, they have an everlasting friendship that will not be broken by bitchiness or backstabbing or dishonesty.

To be honest, I felt a little envious. But mostly I felt proud that they are who they are, that they will, hopefully, always have each other (and Daniel’s) back and stick together.

Even if it is against their poor parents.

Ps. Just in case you were wondering, no, they don’t spend their days playing on electronic devices, they play. Like children should.

Some random thoughts on the girls turning 5

5I wanted to do a whole post with pics of the girls from the last 5 years, but you see so much of them on FB and twitter I thought I would give you a break and only post this one pic of them on their birthday,

Instead I had a random little thought that’s like a thread I have to unravel, so this post is really about having a thought process more than anything else. And I need to give my head a break from thinking about Princess Party Origami Shoes* and other party arrangements that had me grinding my teeth last night.

It started with the girls’ teacher asking each of the parents to write their children a letter about the first 5 years of their life that is read to them in class on their birthday.  As you may know, I’m hardly ever at a loss for words, but I procrastinated writing my 2 letters (as you do when you have twins) until 10pm on the night before they were due.

You see, I have a lot to say about our amazing little girls and celebrating them each as an individual little person. A LOT.  It has been our life’s work to treat them as such, from dressing them differently from day 1 to encouraging different friends and interests and acknowledging that they have different emotional needs and respond differently to discipline.  But in the end I have to concede: they are very much alike in many ways, not in as many ways as they are different, but still. And it’s about time I maybe start to realise it and say it’s ok instead of pushing them away from each other in the end.

For people who don’t know them well there is the most obvious thing that they look very much alike.  Unless you look closely or know them really well they both come across as pretty boisterous (read: LOUD. No idea where they get that from by the way..), it seems like their body language is the same and they both love pink.

The thing is: they are both girls, so they will potentially both love pink.  They love Barbie and colouring in and helping in the kitchen (mostly because our household revolves around our kitchen).  They both love jumping on the trampoline and they both love bubbles in the bath.

I was lucky enough to attend their first ballet “recital” this week and was completely blown away by how much they have learnt in such a short time and how much they LOVE ballet, it made me all weepy.

They are children. They are completely and utterly awesome and we are so blessed to have them and their sweet soul of a brother that has just fitted into the mayhem that they bring with them.

So today I’m taking a moment to celebrate their alikeness instead of their differences, just a moment, because I think it’s worth doing.

*as usual I’m going OTT with party arrangements, mostly in my head, this is just one of those things I thought wouldn’t take long, but ended up being a pain in the arse more than anything else.

PS: men don’t understand parties.  Etienne and I have 2 big annual fights and they normally fall in the day or 2 before the kids’ parties because he is baffled by the amount of stressing I do about parties.  This year I got it out of the way early when I had a printer and origami shoe meltdown on Tuesday night.  At least it’s done and dusted now and life carries on.

PPS: men also don’t understand that if you have 18 of something and suddenly you only have 17 of that thing it is a big fucking deal because then you can’t have 6 rows of 3, you’ll have 2 rows of 6 and 1 row of 5 and that Just Won’t Do. But I think Etienne is on board with that now.

biscuitOh, and those star biscuits I was on about the other day? Etienne came up with the idea of painting glitter in the letters whilst I was decorating the edges.  Isn’t he awesome?

Lastly: I’m going to indulge my paranoia and take Isabel to the Ortho on Monday to have her arm checked, rather safe than sorry! Even though I was *almost* accused of being a hypochondriac like a certain member of my family we shall not mention (my Mother).

Euthanasia – would you?

I know this is a bit of a grim topic for a Tuesday as we are all probably feeling a bit grim anyway having to be back at work after the holidays, but I read this article about twins that decided to have themselves Euthanised and thought WTF?

In a nutshell (and I quote):

The (deaf) twins had lived and worked together their whole lives. They worked as cobblers, suffered spinal and heart disease, and were about to lose their vision from glaucoma.


Many will wonder why my brothers have opted for euthanasia because there are plenty of deaf and blind that have a ‘normal’ life,” he said. “But my brothers trudged from one disease to another. They were really worn out.”

“They lived together, did their own cooking and cleaning. You could eat off the floor. Blindness would have made them completely dependent. They did not want to be in an institution,” said Mr Verbessem.

It could be that I’m super sensitive to the fact that twins decided to have themselves Euthanised because I have twins, but this just strikes me as very, very wrong.

Dying is not really something I spend a lot of time thinking about and I have wondered on occasion under what circumstances I would choose to have myself Euthanised. I have thought maybe if I had dementia or Alzheimer’s, but at which point do you draw the line, because generally speaking when you are ready to draw the line you wouldn’t care anyway.

Terminal illness? No thanks, I would want to suck those last few days/minutes/hours out of life and spend them with my family.

If you knew were you going to die on a certain day you could probably plan things properly and book your funeral in advance and choose your own casket etc, but in my heart of Calvinistic upbringing hearts I can’t get my head around it.  It just seems very cold and calculated. Maybe I just like the fact of NOT knowing when I’m going to die, I prefer the element of surprise, if you know what I mean. Or am I very old school and narrowminded in my thinking?

What do you think, would you choose to have yourself taken out of the gene pool and if so, under which circumstances? 




If being stubborn was an illness..

.. then Isabel would have been terminally ill.

We try really hard not to a) compare the girls with each other, especially because they are twins and b) predict what they will be like when they grow up. It feels like we would put them in a certain “box” and we want our kids to be free to grow up to be who they are, not what we think they should be based on our perceptions.


Isabel is by far the most stubborn child I have ever come across. Eeeever. Take last night for example:

We made lovely ostrich steaks, mash and salad for supper. (yes, I actually helped, it might rain) Madam decides, no, she’s not even going to come to the table. At this time of year we all use leverage created by the Christmas hype such as no gifts, no visit from Santa, no sweeties from the advent calendar and so on and so forth.

We don’t often use this leverage, it’s not how we want to parent, but it shames me to say it has come up over the last few days. Whenever we do use it it works to varying degrees, so imagine our surprise tonight when none of it worked.

Isabel just ignored us flat out. She wandered around the house whilst the rest of us had a lovely supper and knew not to come near the table otherwise there would be trouble. We didn’t shout, we didn’t get mad, we just said that there would be no other food and no choccie from her advent calendar. Was she upset? Nope, she was not bovvered. Not one little bit.

She just politely ignored us. We were waiting for her to finally give in and have supper, she has done this before, but always caved in and had supper in the end. But she stuck to her guns.

As a matter of principle we don’t fight about food, we only ask that they have at least a little of what is on their plate and generally they all eat really well. But this is a whole different ball game.
I know I over analyse stuff, but I worry that she is trying to control or manipulate us. I worry that she might have issues with food. I worry that she trying to tell me something I am missing. I worry if she is getting enough attention. (Etienne, if you’re reading this, stop rolling your eyes!)

Or maybe she just wasn’t hungry. But she said no to chocolate. What type of kid says no thanks to chocolate? (Actually, Mignon does, but that’s another story)

Do you have a really stubborn child? How do you handle these situations?

Ps: This is the same child that politely informed me this evening that she will have an iPad and a diamond necklace for Christmas. Boy, is she in for a nasty surprise.
Pps: it’s December. In Cape Town. Rain is highly unlikely. Just so you know.

Understanding the left-handed child – a question

I am completely fascinated by twins, especially because we have a set of our own.  Partly because I want to make sure that we raise them as individuals within their dynamic whilst making sure that they stay close, but also because I want to equip them with what the world will assume about them because they look the same.

During both of my pregnancies we used to love watching the “in the womb” series on National Geographic and they had just brought out the twins version when I was pregnant with the girls.

One of the things I remember most is that they referred to twins often being “mirror twins”.  In other words, they literally mirror each other, so much so that sometimes even their organs mirror each other (not the case with Mignon and Isabel).

Besides the fact that their personalities and personal tastes are very different, the biggest way that our girls mirror each other is that Mignon is right-handed and Isabel left-handed.  I know that technically speaking it is a little early to say your child is left-handed as they are only 4, but Isabel does everything with her left hand, so I think it is safe to say it will probably stay that way.

This brings back lots of memories of the challenges I have seen left-handed people have.  For example, my friend Leo always battled to write with those blasted fountain pens we were forced to write with at school as it kept smudging.

My sister (being the only left-handed person in our family) also had her fair share of battles growing up as no-one really catered for lefties in the 80’s.  It was difficult to teach her how to eat as a left-handed person because my parents simply didn’t know how.  Nowadays I can easily go and buy a pair of scissors specifically for Isabel and I’m comfortable that she won’t be made to feel like a freak or be forced to use her right hand when she goes to school.   (as a side bar: they must just try it, she is stubborn as all hell.  No idea where she gets it from of course)

So I want to ask: do you have left-handed children or are you left-handed yourself?

What are the biggest challenges you faced?  Is there anything we could be doing for Isabel to make it easier for her or something obvious that right-handed people miss that’s hard for lefties?

As always, comments, suggestions and advice is more than welcome!