Not surprisingly, our twin boys are extremely different, especially since they are fraternal (non-identical) twins. Like me and my twin sister, they really are chalk and cheese. Yes they are both sporty, excelling at rowing, football and rugby, but that’s where the differences end. They are both charming young men when they want to be, and personable to anyone they meet, but their personalities are very different and have been from day one.
I am not complaining about this – we like the fact they are different, and have always sought to separate them at school and encourage them to have their own circle of friends and interests. Aside from personality differences (not readily noticed by someone who may not know them intimately), there are other more tangible differences you can notice immediately.
For starters, they look very different. Their faces are different (I don’t think they even look like brothers) and where one has always had a typical boys build, the other went through a pudgy stage before his teenage growth spurt. They are now both well-built, muscly boys, but if you look closely again you can see physical differences in their muscle development and body shape.
They dress differently too – with completely divergent tastes in clothing. One is very interested in how he looks and what he wears, whilst the other considers clothing to be just that – not a fashion statement but a practical item you wear for modesty, warmth etc. If his girlfriend had her choice, she’d like his twin brother’s wardrobe on him!
Their differences are also borne out at home. Take their bedrooms – one is relatively tidy, and generally presentable for a teenage bedroom, the other is a “tip”, full of the detritus of everyday living – three wet towels on the floor, rubbish in the corner (where it’s been for 4 weeks), dirty socks, school shirts, pens, electronic gadgets, food wrappers etc. The list goes on. The cleaners recently piled it all into a corner so they could vacuum the carpet – I got really excited he had finally succumbed to his own filth and cleaned the mess up until we found the Mt Everest of teenage life behind the bedroom door.
These habits extend to their general living quarters and cause quite a bit of angst. Naturally one of the men-children likes to keep the bathroom and lounge area neat and tidy (just like his parents actually). You can imagine the stress then of living with his twin who drops everything on the bathroom floor (and leaves it there) and uses the coffee table like you would a dishwasher, for a growing pile of dirty glasses, bowls and plates. Maybe he’d like to be a scientist, since he’s often cultivating penicillin in their lounge room!
It drives one of the men-children absolutely mad (as it does me). Occasionally I crack it and make my son do a tidy up (trust me it’s excruciating to watch the slowness with which he tackles this chore), but for the most part, I just let them sort it out amongst them. I guess I consider it one of life’s lessons. You can’t always choose who you live with, and we’re all different, so they have to learn to get along in the world and live with imperfections or they’ll go crazy.
I do observe this with a sense of sympathy and amusement, having lived in close quarters with my own twin, who it’s fair to say was just like my untidy son. We however shared our bedroom for 14 years. It must have been quite amusing for my parents to look into our room and see the perfection and neatness of a spotless room on one side and the dishevelment on the other. I recall one day putting a line of masking tape down the middle of the room so her detritus could live on her side and not infringe mine.
Their approach to school is what you might expect having read the above. One man-child is pretty self-motivated and diligent, both in class and at home, so he seems to have his school work reasonably under control and we don’t have to ride him very often. On the flip side his brother is constantly behind at school, not doing the work, takes forever to finish things (much to his teacher’s frustration and ours) and is just not highly motivated by anything academic related. Being in year 10 this has led to a number of issues, which have recently come to a head. More news on that in another post.
So yes they are very different. Just like many siblings are different. Does it make it harder when you’re a twin to be different? Does it make it easier for people to compare you? Does it make it worse for one twin if any imperfections are amplified? To be honest Father of a Man-Child and I differ on this. Strangely he seems to think it’s more of an issue than me (the twin). I guess I just see two very different children, who happen to be the same age making their journey through adolescence. Whereas he sees two competitive young men, with successes and/or failures in different things, the latter potentially amplified with a negative effect.
What do you think? As a sibling or parent? Is this worse for twins, or is it just part of being a unique individual growing up in a family?
Apologies to my readers who think this story is familiar, I have written about it before: Living with Man-Child Mess. It’s clearly a sore point!