On Sunday after church, we had a potluck lunch. While I staked out a table with MayDay, CPod wrangled the twins, keeping our place in line. G-Dog and ConMan held his hands, but after sitting through three hours of meetings (and truly being on their best behavior), they were more than a little rambunctious. They held on tightly to CPod's hands while swinging to and fro across the front of Daddy, the human jungle gym. They played peek-a-boo behind his back and laughed and carried on while they waited for their spaghetti. None of this behavior was abnormal, and it certainly wasn't inappropriate for the setting.
A couple stood behind them. CPod overheard the wife say to her husband, glancing significantly at my two wonderful boys, "ConMan is the good twin," as though trying to explain away their behavior by casting one child as the bad influence.
We're not sure if the boys heard her, but regardless, CPod turned around and said, "Actually, Sister So-and-so, these are two very good boys." He gave her a very pointed look that made it clear to her that her comparison of the twins, and her subsequent judgment based on limited knowledge, was absolutely inappropriate and could be damaging to the tender psyche of a young and sensitive boy were he to hear her say it.
Here's the thing. G-Dog is an enigma. Though he and ConMan are twins, he takes his 97 minute headstart seriously -- never have I met a more assertive child. He is the oldest. I'm convinced that if it hadn't been for the extraordinary measures required for us to conceive in the first place, G-Dog would have been born not just first, but alone. He is opinionated and headstrong and persistent, extremely logical and inquisitive. But he is also very energetic and BOSSY and is constantly seeking for new ways to control his environment. (Don't say it, Mom. I already know he's just like me.) Add to that a very delicate and sensitive emotional side and a deep and sincere love for all things little and helpless, and you get a kid that to many, is too much work to handle and not worth the required effort.
I'll be honest here -- I have moments with all of my children that require way more effort than I have to give sometimes. Eighteen months ago, the child that required the most effort was almost always G-Dog. Because we have worked hard at developing communication skills with him, and begun a continuous dialogue about his feelings and how they relate to his behavior, his temperament has stabilized immeasurably and life in our house has been a lot easier. We have learned how to take each child's individual characteristics and use them to our advantage when tailoring consequences and rewards. We delight in their differences, even though, sometimes, those unique things that make them tick also make our parenting lives more difficult.
I am afraid that I can almost guarantee that the people G-Dog meets through his life, especially those who teach him in school, will not all be willing to see his "difficult" behaviors from a different perspective. This will be further complicated by his twin-ness: ConMan's unique characteristics are simply easier to take for many, and the comparison is, I fear, inevitable. Inevitable -- and unfair to both kids.
Sigh. I don't know how to protect them from labels, from people who don't realize how much their words can be prophecies. I hope G-Dog and ConMan will be able to hear my voice above all the other ones, reinforcing them, holding them up, helping them know who they really are and how much potential they each have by divine right. I see God in both of them. Please, may He help me help them to see it in themselves.