I've already written about my twin boys, the Italian and the German, but I hope you'll indulge me as I turn back to them again for another post.
You see, I'm constantly amazed by them, especially in light of how so many other people's children interact with each other. All too often, I hear the bickering and squabbling of siblings in stores, on school grounds, at church, or even in our own yard when our children are playing with the neighborhood kids. I'm sure in these situations I am catching the worse behavior and missing the tender moments these children may share, or at least I hope I am.
And I'm not going to deny that my boys, and their sister, have their tense moments and occasional cross words. They do, and my Lovely Wife and I do our fare share of refereeing. Much like umps at a ballgame, we probably make some bad calls from time to time, but that's the joy of parental privilege. We don't always have to be in the know to be the final authority on what is right.
However, as Our Daughter edges closer to high school and our boys now have fewer years left ahead of them in elementary school than behind them, our ability to dole out blind justice and assert the high authority we enjoyed in their younger years is diminishing. They actually expect us to employ reason and sound judgement in the decisions we make over everything from the clothes they wear to school, to which one needs to get in the shower first, to when they can get a cell phone or an iPod. It's difficult to believe these are the same children who less than a decade ago could be thrilled to giggling by an impromptu game of peek-a-boo.
Parenting aside, I am encouraged by the overwhelming lack of enmity between our children. Our Daughter enjoys mothering her brothers possibly as much as we do, and they display a constant and genuine fondness and love for her. Equally important, though possibly less surprising because they are twins, is the easy relationship between the Italian and the German. As the years drop away, they seem to retain the same level of need and want for each other's company.
From the first time we split them up while shopping at the mall and they ran to each other and embraced like old souls who had been separated for years, to the time the Italian cried and asked "Why would you do that to us?" when we told them they would not be in the same class in school, they have each been the other's best friend.
When they were infants, barely able to stand, the sounds of their raucous laughter would echo through our small house from their room as they crawled in and out of each other's cribs. When our fiery Italian blows his top at the wrong time and earns a timeout, as he did just the other day, it is the German who can be found sitting next to him on his bed, rubbing his back and telling him not to cry. When we ask them if they would like us to use the spare bedroom in our house to give each of them his own room, they hastily refuse the offer.
I would say that my high opinion of them and their visible regard for each other is the result of nothing more than good old fatherly pride, if not for the numerous occasions on which my Lovely Wife and I have received praise from family, friends and total strangers about how much they enjoy watching our children interact.
Most recently, during yesterday's church service, the boys were struggling with a case of fidgetiness the likes of which would normally have drawn multiple harsh looks and whispers from my Lovely Wife and me. Yesterday, however, we were distanced from them by Our Daughter and my brother-in-law, so no inconspicuous reprimands were forthcoming. They hung on each other, leaned on each other, took turns wearing my Lovely Wife's coat, used the coat as a blanket, figured out they could both wear the coat at the same time, hung on each other some more, doled out noogies, and paid almost no attention to any part of the service.
Later in the evening, when picking up Our Daughter from a church youth group program, our assistant rector's husband explained how he had been sitting two rows behind us in church that morning. He and the newly-hired youth group leader caught the entire show our boys put on. Slightly embarrassed, I began to apologize but stopped when he said how much he enjoyed watching the way they played together like best friends.
I know they will grow apart as time goes on. They will have their own friends and interests, possibly go to different colleges, start dating and eventually marry, and have families of their own to support and nurture. My hope is that they will always remain close at heart to each other and their sister, even if time and distance keep them apart.
© Mark Feggeler