Big things are happening around here these days. Birthdays, of course--E and Z turn four on Sunday and M turns eight on Wednesday. This will be the first time all of my kids will be over four years old, which for some reason feels like a big deal to me. I may be able to get some things done around the house and yard for the first time in eight years. It also makes me a little nostalgic for the baby years...
After buying bike helmets for E & Z a couple of weeks ago, I decided to not hold them for the birthdays, but get them out to enjoy during the beautiful late April weather we had. In the basement we found three little bikes (M's old bike and hand-me-downs from two friends) and three training wheels (not three pairs, but three wheels)...which makes for only one bike. It turned out that this worked out rather well, because there's no way I would be able to push two kids up the hills and keep two kids from careening down the hills and un-stick two kids when they hit ruts where their training wheels are on the ground, but their rear tire just spins and spins. Instead they took turns, one riding to the road, the other riding back.
Someone who had older twins once told me that the "twin-ness" doesn't matter any more once the baby years are over, but I don't think this is true. It matters when you're learning to ride a bike, and there's only one bike or one parent. It will matter when they start school and we have to decide if they'll be in the same classroom or not, or when they get invited to different parties, or when one excels at something and the other doesn't. I think twin-ness will always be an amazing gift as well as a challenge for them and for us. They still refer to themselves in the first-person-plural much of the time. "After we sleep it will be our birthday?" "When we were babies we did..." I wonder if this is a natural part of the individuation process, or if I haven't done a good enough job treating them as individuals...
After a couple of days on our own driveway, I took them to the neighbor's house, who have a smooth, fairly level paved driveway, bordered by mowed fields (i.e. breezy and less buggy!) and beautiful gardens (I call it our park). When M was learning to ride a bike, C and I had a running debate about which driveway was better to learn on--our rocky, bumpy, hilly dirt driveway, or the neighbors' smooth paved one. He thought it would hurt more to fall on pavement, while I thought he would be less likely to fall on pavement. I still prefer the neighbors' driveway.
E is much more into the bike than Z, and more daring about going down hill than Z, who, now that he has finally figured out the pedal brakes, rides them down the slightest incline. It's funny, because many people who only slightly know the twins always say, "Z is the daring one." "Z's the one who always jumps right into the action." Actually, although they are both energetic and physical, neither of them jumps right into the action--they'd both rather curl up on my lap and hide their faces in strange situations and around strange people. But, in general (not always), E is much more likely to climb up on the dentist's chair, or hair cutter's chair, or try the new bike than Z. But possibly because Z is bigger (and maybe because he was born first, although I'm not sure if this is general knowledge), he is pegged as the "outgoing" one. Another "twin" thing--each of them always has to be considered (by other people) as a "type." The shy one. The active one. The naughty one. The loud one. I don't remember my singleton kid being typecast in quite this way.
P.S. New post up at Capital Walks.