The Change-Up

I often get asked which twin is the {insert adjective here} twin. The outgoing one, the quiet one, the funny one, the good one, the mischievous one. I cannot honestly answer these questions for the long term, because they switch.

Since they were little, they have consistently been inconsistent for more than a few months at a time. The good sleeper would suddenly not be the good sleeper, the needy one would suddenly become the laid back one, the picky one would decide she would eat Brussels sprouts, and so on and so forth.

As time has gone on, I have been able to cope (albeit not gracefully) with these fluctuating personality traits and behaviors. I will adapt to the best way to deal with “the grumpy one’s” drawn out wakeup excuses, or “the anxious one’s” anxiety triggers, or “the stubborn one’s” list of demands that holds me hostage for moments that drag into decades. I try my best to use positive reinforcement for the one that does what she is supposed to, but I am a very flawed being and I often fall short.

There is always, always a period after they switch where I confess I have no idea what the hell I am doing, because what worked to calm that one’s anxieties / stubbornness / outbursts / idiosyncrasies does not work for this one, who has assumed her sister’s role out of the clear blue sky.

Two weeks ago “the spirited one” who was, at the time, also “the anxious one” and “the noncompliant one” had what I can only describe as a full blown anxiety attack over the perfect storm of incidents: her too-big new rain coat rode up on her neck, her car seatbelt was too tight, and she choked on a piece of food I had no idea she was still keeping in the pocket of her cheek like a hamster. She went into such a panic that she made herself vomit, refused to ride in a car for four days, and refused to eat food without tearing it into half centimeter sized pieces for the better part of a week. In desperation, I purchased some placebo-type natural tummy medicine to cure her panicked cries of “my tummy hurts!” every time we asked her to go near a car, eat food, or wear a jacket. After consulting a friend that is a school psychologist, we eventually worked her back into being comfortable in a car seat and with eating food. She still won’t wear long sleeves in a car. So what does “the compliant one” see? That “the noncompliant one” is getting all of this extra attention [and candy] for doing simple tasks that she has been doing easily for months.

And so, the tables turn on Mom and Dad. She decides to forget how to brush her teeth, buckle her car seat, and wipe her own butt, while simultaneously remaining stubborn enough to scream “NO I’M GOING TO DO IT MYSELF.” Remains spiteful enough to act out at school, and look her teacher in the eye, say “I pushed the pee pee out” when asked why she had an accident immediately after she refused to go potty. I adjust my methods and do my best to figure out what in the heck I can do to get them both back on board without losing my mind.

It’s nearly impossible to feel like I’m not perpetually exasperated. Just like with any parent of more than one kid, I constantly have to adapt and change to meet the curveballs thrown my way. I just get to do it … differently.

I loathe the term “double trouble,” but right now, I’m afraid to say it’s an applicable term.

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