Considering Big and Little are more than 2-1/2 years, 6 inches and 15 pounds apart, you might be surprised to hear that I get asked if they’re twins. A lot.
It all started back when Little was just a few months old. Big insisted on wearing matching clothes (which I, personally, am not a huge fan of due to flashbacks of my brother and me in sailor suits…sorry, Mom). But in an effort to avoid (some of the) morning drama, I eventually gave in. Then just as Big was letting go of the habit, Little took the lead in the matching game. He’d tear off his shorts in frustration and yell Big’s name as he ran to his drawer to find a matching pair. Thanks to Gap/Old Navy/Target’s lack of creativity in boys’ clothing (and my lack of interest in shopping), everything kind of looks the same anyway, so why fight it?
Not only do my boys dress alike, they love to do almost all of the same things. Baseball, football, soccer, basketball, golf, dance, swim, ride scooters, train for the WWE, have fun (doing all of the aforementioned activities) with friends, play with my (locked) iPhone, wash dishes (yes, seriously), cook and even clean (anything but their rooms).
While I love that they’re so in sync, it can present a challenge from time to time. Why? Did I mention that they’re more than 2-1/2 years apart? Big is 4-1/2. Little is 22 months. And while things like riding a bike across our (very quiet) street, getting dressed alone and assisting (from a reasonable distance) at the stove are perfectly age-appropriate activities for Big, they’re not for Little. The opposite also applies. Speaking gibberish, being carried on a long walk and throwing toys are age-appropriate(ish) behaviors for Little, but not Big.
Since most of the time we spend together is as a threesome or foursome, I find myself struggling to maintain a good balance. Little is often frustrated, and Big is often jealous.
How do I encourage Big to spread his wings, while discouraging Little from getting in harm’s way? How do I nurture the baby left in Little without making Big feel like being a “big boy” is a punishment that leads to less attention?
My dear friend, Megan, gave me the book I Love You the Purplest before Little was born. It’s a sweet story about two boys and their mom who loves them equally, but uniquely. I often try to use the author’s approach to tell my boys what I love about each of them that’s totally different (even if they’re wearing the same shirt and I call them by each other’s names half the time).
In fact the other day, I was saying, “Big is the guitar-y-est.” “Little is the jumpiest.” Etc. Etc. And Big shouted, “I’m the dirtiest!” So maybe he’s not totally getting it yet. But with enough reinforcement, I’m hoping my boys will know that I love them both wholeheartedly—no matter how much alike they want to be, or how different from each other they become.
Have you experienced this dynamic in your family? Do you have any tips to share? Please comment if so…I know at least a few of us could use them!
Jodie, thanks for sharing your experiences and inspiring this post!