This article is the second in a series of guest posts. I have invited a few select friends and family members to contribute to my blog. I have chosen them based on two things: 1) I personally go to them for help; and 2) I am fascinated by their unique parenting challenges, because I want to hear how they make “okayest” work for them.
Allow me to introduce you to my childhood friend, Holli. We have been friends since fourth grade, mostly because we shared a love of books and finishing our school work quickly so we could read more books. Now that we are all grown up, we share a twin mothering bond. I go to her for reinforcement when someone says something weird about adoption or my twin mommy guilt threatens to swallow me whole. She is always ready with a kind word or a snappy comeback (whichever I need most). She does not mince words. I give you Holli, straight-talkin’ twin mom:
A few days ago I received a request from the World’s Okayest Mom to write a guest blog that capitalized on my experience as the mother of twins. Perhaps she wanted my (often sarcastic) responses to the typical questions I get when out with my children. So, before you ask…“Yes, they are identical. No, neither one is ‘dominant’. No, they are not complete opposites, nor are they exactly alike. No, one of them is not evil. And, yes, they do have different fathers”…sorry, that last one is the answer I typically give out at Walmart, just to see the reactions I get.
Mrs. Okayest may have also wanted me to demonstrate that you can survive twins, but since mine are only eight years old, the jury is still out. What I do have for you, loyal audience, is a story that recognizes the individuality of twins. A story that overlooks how similar my boys are in many ways and exemplifies a challenge that any parent can sympathize with. This is the story of why I had the talk with one of my boys, but not the other.
Yep, you heard me. The TALK. I had the TALK with my eight-year-old son. Are you done gasping in horror? If so, hear me out. Maybe it was because the boys are in different classes, possibly exposing Rylan to information that Ramzie was not privy to. Maybe it was due to the fact that Rylan loves to read – those Captain Underpants books might be a bad influence. Whatever the reason, this past summer Rylan began bringing up the topic of sex. At first, I ignored the comments as he appeared to be gauging me for a reaction. But, when he wrote a story with “sex” in the title, I decided to ask him about it (with the full consent of my husband).
For those of you who do not know me, I taught anatomy and physiology for five years at a private school. The body, and its functions, do not embarrass me in the least (a handy fact when in the company of children). I’m pretty comfortable talking about sex and reproduction, as any of my adult students could attest to. In keeping with my nature, one evening after finding out about the story Rylan wrote, I asked him flat out if he had questions about sex. Before he answered, I told him to think about it – did he really want to know? To my surprise, he did.
I won’t go into all the details of our conversation, but I explained to Rylan in simple terms what sex involved and that it was how babies were created. Here are a few of the highlights:
- Rylan got the giggles. Really got the giggles.
- I couldn’t explain where the phrase “the talk” came from. I still don’t have a clue.
- He said “Ewww”. A lot.
- Part of our conversation went like this:
Me: “Sex is really about intimacy and there are different levels of intimacy.”
Rylan: “Different levels. Like in a video game?”
My husband: “Exactly. One where you’re always going for the high score.” (As you can see, my husband was extremely helpful during this conversation.)
After the TALK portion of our conversation was over, I had to make it clear to Rylan that this was not information he could share. Not with his brother, his classmates, etc. I explained that everyone was ready for this information at different times, and that it was not up to him to determine when that time was. Since he claimed that I had now scarred him for life, I was pretty sure he would keep this information to himself.
My point in sharing this story is that Rylan, despite his comments, was ready for this information, as indicated by his previous comments and story. His twin, however, was not. Ramzie has made no such indications until recently, but is still not quite ready. As their mom, I have to recognize their rights as individuals and not paint them both with the same brush. Part of that individuality involves their maturity and knowledge levels. While Rylan is in no way ‘more mature’ than Ramzie, his knowledge level, for whatever reason, brought him to a place that Ramzie has not yet reached.
Right now you may be thinking that you would never tell your eight-year-old the facts of life – and that’s fine. As a parent, all you can do is take in all available information and then proceed with what you think is best. Not what your mom says, not what Dr. Phil encourages and not what you read in the social media. My gut told me that Rylan would benefit from having the facts and the correct information. Your gut may tell you something completely the opposite. That’s the great thing about being the parent – you get to decide. Just remember to make that decision before his friends or the kids on the bus do it for you.
I’ll leave you with this. If you have twins, or even just have multiple children, respond to their cues and not the “shoulds” of the polite world. Remember that each child is different and try not to become entrenched in a timeline set by an older siblings (flashback to my childhood pleas that were often met with “Your sister didn’t get to wear make-up/shave her legs/stay up later until she was ## years old, so you can’t do it either”). Recognize the cues that they give you and, hopefully, you don’t scar them for life. Oh, and by the way? Your best friend’s cousin’s sister that has a twin boy and girl does not have identical twins. If you don’t know why they aren’t identical, call me. I’ll give you the TALK.