Saturday, March 27, 2010

I'm Twin B

I have zero appetite today. In a few hours I will go to my sister's apartment-warming party! I've only been with her there once, after she furnished and decorated it. She seemed so adult, giving me her laptop to use, then a juice box and a box of crackers. I felt like her little sister. I technically am -- she is three minutes older. Oh, and she has a grown-up job with an office and a salary. I'm still a student living at home. Bah, I am jealous!

My theory is that the big sister/little sister dynamic always exists, no matter what the difference in age between sisters. My sister has always been more independent and concerned for my well being. My mom tells this story: once when I was in the hospital when we were very young, my sister said to my mom. "Don't let them (doctors, presumably) hurt my sister." I don't know if I was getting my tonsils out, bi-lateral hernia repaired (yes, when I was potty training, I had two hernias at the same time: complication related to my hydrocephalus). Maybe I was getting brain tests or had an asthma attack -- who knows.

There's video of us dancing around in a circle onstage during a ballet recital. I was struggling to keep up to her. How symbolic!

But there are times that I've played the older sister, like helping her with homework or taking care of her when she was sick. I still do that. I do feel maternal in that situation because I handle illness so much better than she does: experience, I guess. Also, I like the role reversal: yay, sometimes I'm the nurse instead of the patient! Then I get to take care of someone. I know how important it is to have a nurturing caregiver.

Tonight I'm going to try not to feel too much like her baby sister. I may even dress up! I should wear my glasses. They make me look and feel more mature. My vision is a bit blurry today anyway. I'm having to work harder than usual to maintain my focus. Maybe this is because I'm tired? Who knows. I'll also try not to get crumbs on her couch again... If I don't wear my glasses, I can just tell her I didn't see the crumbs, but then she will still want to know how I managed to get so many crumbs there in the first place. We don't even live together anymore -- haven't in months -- but the big sister/little sister dynamic is still there!


  1. Y'know.. in many ways I'm jealous of you for the relationship you have with your sister, even if you sometimes feel like you're the younger sister. I don't have that, as I didn't grow up with a sister.

    And my brother and I fit the stereotype of NOT GETTING ALONG at all. We were never close, and I never had the feeling of being able to rely on someone similar to my age growing up; I was also never in that role for my brother (having in fact been asked by some peers what I would do if they got into a fight with my brother and my response was always "if he was being an ass and deserves it, good luck to you in winning as he needs his ass kicked")

    It's good that you and your sister aren't ALWAYS in the the big/small sister role and that sometimes it changes around depending on the circumstance. I'm sure that's helped make your bond even stronger over the years, knowing that you each have separate strengths and weaknesses!

  2. Interesting. I think most people expect siblings to be similar, especially twins. That’s just because people don’t really think about it much. Of course sometimes siblings are alike, but sometimes total stranger are alike too. I’ve noticed that twins personalities are often particularly NOT alike. The house right next to mine has triplet girls, the same age as my son, 8 years old (I know – lucky guy!). I’ve seen them growing over the past 8 years and they each are quite different personalities from each other. So different from each other it is almost as if they are driven to be different from each other. All three are great kids, all three are most definitely individuals. It seems to me that being a twin or a triplet somehow makes the persons individuality standout.

    I’ve also noticed (I’m sure this is obvious to most people, but I didn’t give much of a thought till I had kids myself) that having things happen to you as a child has a huge effect on your personality as you grow up. It could be anything significant: being sick a lot, being disabled in some way, having your house burn down, having a parent or sibling die – whatever it is; big things happening to a child change that person forever. What I’ve noticed about this is that even though the things happening are “bad” things – they appear to almost always change the person in good ways (good long term results). There have been several studies linking childhood parental loss and achievement (famous research on “Do orphans rule the world?” statistically studies of the abnormally high percentage of successful people that were orphans).

    I’ve noticed this in my own daughter who (now 11 years old) was not able to walk until she was 2 years old. She had hypersensitivity disorder. It took years of therapy for her to now be practically “normal-ish”. The odd thing is, even though at the time it was a nightmare, I think this problem actually helped her. Because she was not occupied with walking (and the things that kids get into when walking) the second year of her life she was essentially stuck sitting there; her mind developed in ways unlike her peers. She has a type reasoning and insightfulness, a maturity and precociousness that is unique to her.

    Things are not always what they appear to be. In THE LORD OF THE RINGS Tolkien said this pretty well when he twisted around the old proverb “All That Glitters Is Not Gold” (Shakespeare, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE) just as true in real life: “All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter” (Poem by J.R.R. Tolkien).

  3. Yes, I just don't understand the relationship you have with your siblings, Lindsey, or how the age differences have affected you. I've said it before and I'll say it again: my mom is going to adopt you and you can be our triplet. My twin sis and I will just forget that you are two years older than us and don't look like us at all. I wonder if your detachment from your family has made the transition to England easier? Though I know you miss your friends. I still think it's amazing that you did that.

    Robin, I agree that twins and other multiples tend to be different. I think people expect to be alike because of the way twins are portrayed in the arts, like on TV and movies: the twins are either exactly the same or completely different. For years, this has offended me because it disregards the complexity of the twin relationship.

    Yeah I definitely think that my experiences growing up have shaped me. I have pretty low self-esteem, no doubt related to the difficulty I had learning certain things. A lot of things required great determination and persistance, though. So it felt amazing when I finally learned something, like swimming or tying my shoes. Today, it motivates me to try my best and be patient. My issues have made me strong. Do you find your daughter is this way too?

    I'm so glad you took her to therapy. I think it's so important for kids to have the resources and accommodations to grow at their full potential. It also really helps to have a nurturing father like you, I'm sure. I'm glad her experiences fostered her keen intellect! I have found the same with my auditory processing disorder: it made me fall in love with writing. Seeing words and writing them down helped me organize my thoughts.

  4. Big sisters never stop being that. I'm 38 and my big sister still sometimes make me feel like I'm a naughty 6-year old!
    I find it really interesting that you have that big-sister-little-sister dynamic, being twins. I always thought it would be really cool to have a twin. Sounds like it is, for you.

  5. It IS cool! Thank you! Yes, our dynamic may be unique to us and not representative of the twin relationship in general. I don't know.

    Hey, that would make a great article... I could interview other pairs of twins and compare their dynamics with they one I share with my sister. It would also be interesting to explore possible influences on the dynamic: Have the twins shared classes? Friends? Are they really alike?

  6. When I was a kid, I used to daydream about having a twin brother (weird, I know).

    My dad's a twin. I'm not sure how the genetics work, but I think that I might have the genetic code (or whatever) that may lead me to get pregnant with twins should I decide to have children. Terrifying! And yet, I hope that my future kids (should I have them) have a close relationship like you and your sister.

  7. Nah, I don't think that's weird! I used to day dream about having an older or younger brother! That experience just seems so different from having a twin sister.

    Aw, yeah Roxanne and I have always been very close. She's my best friend. Is your dad close with his twin?

    Thanks for stopping by, Ash!