The other day, when my two daughters were on the swings in the society play area, a lady came up to me and asked if they are twins. “No!” I exclaimed surprised. Why would anyone think that? “They are sisters.” I explained. “This one is 2 and a half and the other is 5.”
After the lady left, as I looked at them swing together, I realized how fast the younger one is catching up with the older one in size. When they stand, of course, there is still a significant height difference but sitting down, well they could be mistaken for twins I guess.
And it is not just how they look either. As far as I can tell, they look nothing like each other. I guess the more important factor is how similar their expressions, choice of phrases and mannerisms seem to outsiders. The younger one tries to copy the older one in every way. Sometimes this annoys the older one, and sometimes it fans the flames of her ego. But neither reaction stops the younger one from diligently copying her sister.
However much they may seem like peas in a pod to the outside world, they could not be more different to me, the person who has closely monitored them since the day they were born. In fact, so much of my earlier parenting experience was rendered absolutely useless with the second baby because their personalities are so different. That is why I was so surprised that someone should think they are so similar.
The older one is naturally cautious. She looks out for cars on the road before crossing with me. She is careful and thoughtful. So much so, that I have been comfortable letting her assist me in the kitchen since she was 2. She is allowed to chop up tomatoes and cucumber for salad since she was 4 because I know I can trust her.
The younger one, on the other hand, is like an enthusiastic baby elephant running headlong in to whatever interests her without any sense of possible dangers. She considers herself invincible and believes that nothing is beyond her capability. To her the age gap between her and her sister is invisible.
For the older one, the down side of being cautious, is being easily scared. The other day the older one saw a spider and was terrified. The younger one went and tap danced on it, so it wouldn't bother her sister. Yikes! I know. Time to teach her that insects are living creatures too.
The older one has always been adept at language. She picked up words very quickly and had a large vocabulary at a very early age. The younger one, on the other hand, still says the funniest things. She often says, “Mama give me always.” Black olives are her favourite snack and she calls them always. In a sentence, when she doesn't know exactly how to say a couple of words, she just confidently rushes through the sentence pretending to have said the words.
While reciting the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill, she says the last line like this: and Jill came nnning after. She says came and after with great flourish, glossing over tumbling, or should I say tumbling over tumbling?
She also combines songs in a funny way. In school, they were taught two songs recently, one with the first line 'God's love is so wonderful' and another whose first line is 'In the morning,' and she either got confused or deliberately started singing “God's la (which sounds suspiciously like Godzilla) is the morning.” Profound, eh?
The younger one loves to tinker and entertains herself for a long time. The older one did not care much for tinkering or spending time alone. But now, seeing her sister, she has developed a great interest in Lego, and it has become one of her favourite toys. She has also started taking up solitary activities like painting, where she doesn't need much of my attention. I guess the older one is learning a few things from the younger one as well.
But the kids learning from each other, does not always work to my advantage. The kitchen wars are the worst. The older one loves to, and is used to being allowed to, help out in the kitchen. But now baby elephant, after seeing her sister, has decided that she too wants to be included in kitchen activities. And that is scary.
From trying to grip a knife by the blade, to toppling a stand full of spoons and jumping while holding a cup full of some liquid, in the kitchen, she is a catastrophe waiting to happen. But she gets really upset and angry if we don't include her. So we have to find simple safe tasks to keep her occupied in the kitchen. Fortunately, I found that, given a little plastic bag, she is happy collecting peels and other garbage, or handing us steel bowls and plates. Phew. Crisis averted for the moment. But soon, she will figure out that her jobs are not glamorous. Oh well, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.
Hope you enjoyed these anecdotes. Because I have to run now. My peas in a pod are trying to claw each other's eyes out over some minor disagreement. That's my cue. Time to go. Toodledoo.