My twins shared a womb. They share a room. I even make them share a kids meal. Obviously, it’s important for kids to learn to share, especially since you can’t claim “mine, mine, mine” with the toys at preschool. Still, I think twins deserve at least some sole ownership.
When my boys turned 3 this summer, they got several toys (luccccky!) that were meant to be shared. I appreciated it because there’s really no reason to have two painting easels, two basketball hoops, or two Jake the Pirate hideaways. I think I would need two homes just to accommodate all of that stuff. They would get two different puzzles or two different games or two different shirts, but the big items were meant for both boys. And that’s how it should be. They’re perfectly capable of taking turns.
For their birthday, my dad had bought them one of those Leapfrog LeapPads which, if you haven’t seen them, are like child-friendly iPads packed with games, songs, learning tools, and even a camera. He figured they could try the one and if they liked it, he could get them another. “No, no,” my husband and I insisted. “That’s okay. They can share.”
Ha, we’re silly…and stupid. Apparently, this was one of those toys they were incapable of sharing. After about 20 minutes of, “Okay, it’s your turn,” and, “Okay, now it’s your brother’s turn,” it was clear that this sharing thing was not going to be okay. Like not even a little okay.
Pretty soon, both boys were so frustrated and, well, unfulfilled, that they were bonking each other with the damn toy. When one had to give up his turn, he would wail and cry, and then hover over his brother, barely giving him space to move the tiny stylus around the screen. We weren’t teaching them any kind of valuable lesson. We were just driving them crazy. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it was cruel.
We had three choices: Force them to share and deal with their frustration. Take the toy away completely. Or let my dad buy another one. We chose door #3.
Fine, maybe this means my kids will be spoiled. Maybe this double LeapPad catastrophe will turn my kids into ungrateful brats who think a little tantrum will yield two-for-ones across the board. But, here’s the thing: They’re 3. They have no impulse control. They don’t understand what things cost. They don’t understand that they should just be grateful for what they have. They got a ridiculously cool new toy and they each wanted their own time to play with it.
If they didn’t have the same birthday, they wouldn’t be expected to share one toy. Although most of the time, it’s not a problem, this time it was. And I do have to say that, as twins, they probably learned about sharing long before their singleton friends even heard the word. It’s something that twin parents have to teach their kids every day.
But I believe that some things they shouldn’t have to share, whether it’s a Leappad or a scooter or just time with Mummy and Daddy. Twins are the same age, but they’re their own people. They deserve their own stuff, their own space, and their own identity. If we can afford it, we should give them that.
I’m not sure if we did the right thing or not with the tablets. I’m not sure I actually care what the “right thing” was. I know that this was one of those instances where our boys needed to have “my own” and I’m happy we could make that happen for them. They’re sweet boys and good sharers — they deserve it.