I have been asked by a few friends to write about my experiences on raising my twin boys. Initially I resisted as this was not meant to be a mummy/baby blog but while I am sharing all sorts of thoughts & experiences, perhaps I should dedicate a page with insights in to my life with my boys.
So… watch this space… for Me and My Twins! 🙂
Rewind – Fast Forward
Fast Forward – Rewind
Since the boys have been born hubby and I have viewed a numerous number of nursery and primary schools. The very first one we viewed was when the boys were 4 months. 3 years later we are still at it.
The boys are currently in a very good nursery/pre-prep school in North London where they can potentially stay till they are 7 years old. However, at the age of 6, boys are to sit a ‘7+’ assessment to secure a place in a good junior school. This is all fine as long as there is an understanding between parents, primary and junior schools that the boys are only 6 and they should be evaluated based on their current abilities. It’s too early to determine their educational path and goals at this age and in all honesty they should not even have to be ‘assessed’. But that is our system in the UK and we accept it.
What I can’t come to terms with is the pressure that is put on the children to perform at this age (x 2 in my case where each boy has a different aptitude and interest) and that parents feel compelled to have their 6 year olds ‘tutored’ to give them a ‘competitive edge’.
Should they even be a competitive edge at this age? Should children have to undergo such pressure?
The parents who do not condone the idea of tutoring their children at this age are usually battling an internal guilt that they may be putting their children at a ‘disadvantage’.
The next option then is to have the boys sit for assessments at the ages of 3 or 4 which is done in a more relaxed and ‘playful’ way wherein the child is unaware that they are being ‘assessed’ and the parents are not on edge. So we then embark on a new set of school tours that have entry points at ages 4 & 5 and go through the age of 11, 13 or 18. This is not long after we have already been through the journey of selecting the ‘perfect’ nursery and primary school.
This is obviously the case in private schooling only and they are limited options of ‘non-selective’ schools that start at nursery or kindergarten and go straight through to senior schools/GCSEs.
On a lighter note, while on these school visits, we have been envisioning our 3 year olds fast-forward to the age of 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and the real thrill has been the journey back (not that far back!) to when we were in similar classrooms, uniforms, activities which made us just want to enroll ourselves, rewind a few years and enjoy those innocent and playful years in a school environment until our boys are ready to begin that journey!
My Heart Skips a Beat
thoroughly enjoying this age and stage that the boys are in. Their sentences are so well-formed that every time they say something new, it throws me off guard. Most of the time I just burst out laughing at the things they come up with.
But what really makes my heart skip a beat is the dialogue between the two of them. Their life long bond and friendship is forming its early roots. ‘A’ loves to engage ‘Y’ in a game or an activity. He says his brother’s name with such love and earnesty. He makes ‘Y’ giggle a lot, and I just love the sound of both their voices. (That’s when they’re not pulling each other’s hair out!).
‘Y’ loves to play his guitar (his 3rd ukulele) and sing. He takes on the persona of ‘Toby’ – the singer who comes to their nursery every week. He picks a cushion, stool or chair while carrying his ‘guitar’ and finds a place in front of his audience. Most of the time it’s ‘A’. He sits, tunes his ‘guitar’ and says, ‘what song would you like today, A?’ And the two of them begin their duets of ‘Ba Ba Black Sheep’, ‘Wheels on the Bus’, ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ and ‘I can sing a Rainbow’. It just melts my heart.
Although ‘A’ likes to give his brother a whack sometimes or tug at his l
ong hair (Y just had a crew cut yesterday), he exhibits generosity and compassion to him when needed. He won’t allow me to walk away from ‘Y’ when he has a tantrum or fusses about something.
And then they instigate each other to create mischief! They were sitting at the kitchen table this morning for breakfast and they remembered the carton of beer sitting below. ‘A’ randomly gets a mischievous glint in his eyes and says, ‘Y – let’s have beer’ and they both scrambled under the table and take a can each! – yes I caught them on time!
When one of them whines for hubby or me at bed time after they’re tucked in, the other one says really sweetly, ‘Mama is coming or Papa is coming’.
It’s all music to my ears and they are so blessed to have each other.
Stop and Pick up the Dandelions
We were at Regents’ Park on Sunday morning for a kiddie football lesson. It was the first sunny and relatively warm day we have had in a while, so all four of us went.
A stunning day indeed, the boys were happy to be out running around and tumbling down the hill with their buddies. We had a mini picnic then proceeded to leave. Papa and little A went a head leaving little Y and me strolling down the path.
My little boy decided to really ssssttttttrrrrrrroooooollllllll and stopped several times to pick up the little yellow dandelions growing wild. He didn’t just pick them. He looked at them, analyzed them. Some were too big, some were too small, some he didn’t pick with the stem (which upset him) and some he did. But each dandelion that he was satisfied with was for each one of us while we discarded the other’s that didn’t make the cut (literally).
I was getting a little impatient at one point and then just stopped and observed him. He was paying attention to his environment. He noticed the yellow flowers. He noticed the differences. He realised they were pretty and wanted to pick one for all of us including himself. So pure, so natural, so beautiful, so innocent, so thoughtful.
It made me realise that I needed to see the world now through the boys’ eyes. I needed to stop. I needed to allow him his little curious spirit.
The beautiful lessons you learn through the clarity of a child’s eyes… it’s priceless.
Que Sera Sera
And then they turned 3!
A week long celebrations for our 3 year olds! I felt like I had planned an Indian wedding yesterday and literally just curled up for an afternoon nap while the boys were wondering what happened to me.
We have had 3 separate celebrations for them, and each one has been fun and special in their own way. The first one was with all their baby group friends and many of my friends’ children whom they know. We did this at GoKids, N20. I highly recommend this venue – on private hire – for a toddler’s birthday party. The team there know how to look after the hosts and the guests and we literally just had to show up.
Then on their actual birthday we had family over, which was very, very, intimate and special, and Y & A enjoyed all the attention, yes and the gifts, they each received. And wow! a 2nd birthday cake!
Yesterday we had their school friends over, who really are their ‘besties’ as they spend the entire week with them. This was a surprise party and boy they were so thrilled. I had SillyMillie, the entertainer, for them and all the kids really enjoyed her silliness!
All the celebrations aside, I wanted to share the sweet things they have said and done in the last week that actually signifies to me the transition from terrific two’s to even more terrific three’s!
1. While tucking A in to bed once night last week, I said, ‘Good night, God bless you, I love you,’ and right away he said, ‘I love you too!’. Unprompted. Just spontaneous.
2. Another night I tucked Y in and before I could wish him good night he said, ‘I love you’.
3. When the boys were younger, I used to sit on a folding stool and wash them in their tub and then gradually started to showered them. Now the stool is used to brush their teeth or do a wee. So last week while I was showering A, Y was on the stool brushing his teeth. As soon as he was done brushing his teeth he brought the stool over to me and said, ‘mama, here, I bring you the stool, sit on it’.
My two little charmers and surely turning in to little heart breakers. With all the craziness we go through…. NOTHING can make a mother’s heart feel so full and happy than these beautiful words and gestures. It makes everything so worth it!
The Twin Magic
The last few weeks have been an amazing and magical experience with the boys. They’ve properly embarked on the beautiful twin journey. Their bond is now so visible and their gestures and conversations with each other are sweet and hilarious at times.
When I have one or both of them in bed with me, when either one wakes up, he looks for the other and wants to wake this brother up. Whichever one it is, Y or A, he will say something that only they understand, in their twin code, and the other one just opens his eyes and smiles so wide and repeats the word…. and the day begins… with smiles, then giggles, and then later fights… 🙂
A couple of nights ago, Y went to sleep in the ‘island’ between the two beds, on the duvet that is considered ‘mama’s bed’. A wanted to sleep next to him and kept sliding in next to him and putting his arm around Y’s neck. Unfortunately for awhile it was too stimulating and so I had to separate them, but despite that, they still fell asleep next to each other with their arms around each other. So precious. Wish I had taken a photo.
Tonight, I had Y fall calm down while sleeping over me and then moved him to the ‘island’ while I went to A’s bed to settle him. When all 3 of us were silent, breathing softly in the dark, there was a soft voice:
Y: ‘A… where’s mama?’,
another soft voice responds….’Y… she’s here’
A: ‘With you A?’
Y: ‘Yes, mama’s here’
A: ‘With you? On top of you?’ (what he meant … are you sleeping on top of her?)
Y: ‘Yes, mama is here, up’ (mama is here on my bed)
A mellow excitement follows with Y, and then I threaten to leave the room.
A: ‘No wait mama…. I tell a story. There was a small boy at a bus stop… and he………………’
I was in a sweet shock and just stayed there listening to my almost 3-year-old make up a bed time story.
Just as he got done, I started to slip out of the room, and Y started…’and now I tell a story mama…. there was a boy…..’)
A sweet, sweet, blessed moment. May they keep continuing…. for me! and of course for each other….
Happy UK Mother’s Day!
Red Eyes, Dark Circles, Dull Brain…
Yup! It’s NOT always fun ‘n games as I sometimes like to think it is. (Well, who said fantasising is bad??)
At some point I had this sleep thing down. Almost 2 years ago, when the boys had turned 1, I employed the assistance of a sleep training clinic to help me sleep… ummmm…. indirectly. I hired them to ‘teach’ me how to train my babies to sleep through the night. 3 days… and I had it figured out and I had 2 sleeping beauties – well 4, as we finally could sleep a good 6-8 hours at a stretch! What a novelty that was.
As they say with children, or life in general, ‘it’s just a phase‘, ‘this too shall pass‘. Well… this ‘phase‘ we are currently in has been way tooooo long and it is NOT passing! A hasn’t slept through the night in about 10 months – yes – okay- once a week we get a reprieve. But my star sleeper Y was just amazing… head down, good night, and all smiles at 6:30a.m. Not any more unfortunately, since he had a throat infection over a month ago, he has taken to sleeping ‘on’ me. That’s all lovely and sweet and I would do that any time, but now, 5 weeks later, he’s still restless at night, and wants ‘only mama’. This too I can handle, but not when there’s 2 waking up a 30 mins pattern after each other for a stretch of 2 hours and somehow there’s 4 of us in our bed, and they both still want ‘only mama’.
There are nights I get them to sleep back in their beds, but that’s as long as I sleep on the duvet on the floor in between their beds! Y sometimes is so compassionate at night, he comes and sleeps with me on the floor and says, ‘mama, I share my blanket with you’. Awwww…. love you baby, but my legs are way longer than yours and somehow your blanket isn’t that long. Then in the 1 meter space between the beds, A decides he too needs to sleep with mama, and we’re all sandwiched together … Yes I know it’s sweet, and I know these days will never come back….:) 🙁 but for now, I’m a Zombie Mum.
When will this too pass? Is it a ‘phase’? Will I be moaning in a few years that my boys won’t sleep with me anymore?
9:15a.m. and I’m ready to call it a day!
The boys were up at 6.15 a.m. and it’s been all go go go since then – and yes, in different directions.
Since their room is on the middle level, mine on the 2nd floor and everything else on the ground floor, obviously, one wanted to go up to my room to Papa and the other wanted to go make his new puzzle with me downstairs.
We all march up first, then all go down to begin the day. And then it starts:
‘Mama, make the puzzle with me’. ‘Mama I make breakfast with you’. ‘Mama I want to mix it’. ‘Mama I want to put the raisins’. ‘Mama give me water’. ‘Mama what’s this?’. ‘Mama I want to draw the curtain’.
And then when we all sit for breakfast – ‘Mama! You feed me!’ x 2!
A few spills of ingredients in the kitchen. Breakfast done. I’ve cleaned up and now racing against time to get us all ready for the day. All the way up again to play with the toys in my room so I can shower. Y barges in to the bathroom and fiddles with all the cosmetics and pours out my ‘ear piercing solution’, A turns on the tap. Running out of my shower, I stop them, clean up, get them out, call out for Papa to take over.
I’m ready now and we’re getting the boys ready. 2 very hyper boys this morning, keep slipping out of our hands between each garment strip and each garment wear oh and this is after a toothbrush has been chucked in to the toilet. We get these two slippery boys in to their uniforms and down to the buggy/stroller. Another chase to get shoes & jackets on. Then the hats and gloves. Got one done, and the other one undoes his. We do his and the other gets undone.
That’s it! I roll them out without hats and gloves, just hoodies and tell them to sit on their hands.
We get to school and now they want to run around before going down to class.
I carry A down the stairs, deposit him in his class, and go up to get Y and repeat.
Both in the safe hands of their teachers, snack bags in their cubbies, gloves in the pockets. Coats hung up and I’m out the door. Ready for bed. I’ve had my work out and my challenge/s for the day. I’m ready for a cup of tea and my bed!
Taking 2 babies (boys) out for Play
Since the boys were around 5 months old, I started to take them to various playgroups. Some organised ones by companies such as Baby Sensory which lead to Toddler Sense, and others were groups friends with their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd child about the same age as my 2. The friends groups I probably started when they were about 3-4 months old and still laid on their backs.
I didn’t always have a nanny with me, but some times I did. With and without, I was always quite a site – 2 car seats or 2 babies in a double buggy/stroller and all the paraphernalia that came along with us – snacks for 2, milk for 2, water for 2, lunch or dinner for 2 and a gigantic diaper bag. I actually used the ‘Wistful Weekender’ by Petunia Pickle Bottom. Yes a ‘weekend’ bag for 1 baby was my DAILY bag for 2! (I do highly recommend this bag as there’s a pocket for EVERYTHING! Including 4 bottles!)
With an accompanying nanny, we were quite the entourage going to someone’s home! But those were fun and special days, watching your babies grow along with their friends and the great bond that starts to develop between us mothers and between the children. Their first friends.
I also would meet friends and their babies on ‘play dates’ at venues like Toddler World at the Hendon Leisure Centre. A bit smelly at first (thank God they redid the place while we were still going there) but large, bright and enough to do for babies through to 3 year olds. Ball pits, gymnastic balance beams , hoola hoops, climbing frames, a large ground trampoline, soft play areas, pilates balls, etc. etc.
But all this is great and loads of fun with 1 child, and it’s the time either parent bonds with their child in a playful environment. However, once the boys began crawling, then walking…. I was in BIG trouble!! I didn’t know which way to run as inevitably they both would run in different directions! Every 5 or so mins I needed to do a head count and make sure my eyes in the front were on one boy and the eyes on the back of my head were on the other. The were times I thought I lost one, only to see that he made a friend somewhere in the large room, or found something he really liked. Other times I was really glad the attendants, or facilitators were familiar with me and my very active boys and would help me out. (and then I learned… dress them in the brightest of colours so I could do quick spot checks any time!)
Needless to say, it helped me keep fit as well as I would run faster than I thought I could, stretch wider than I thought I could while holding one baby with my right hand and the other with my left leg, and get exhausted by the end of that hour as if I had completed a grueling triathlon!
Where do I begin?
2 Years and 10 Months, that’s how old A & Y are today.
2 Years and 10 Months of bewilderment, being overwhelmed, feeling a new kind of love – on the double, and just being in pure rapture watching 2 little boys I gave birth to at the same time (ok, well 15 minutes apart) being so so different from each other.
A & Y came 6 weeks early, and 2 weeks earlier than I realistically expected. Twins can come anywhere from 28 weeks on to full-term, but I anticipated mine around 36 weeks and not 33.5. So for the 1st 2 weeks they were in the hospital in incubators and then just under observation as by God’s Grace they were healthy and were not machine dependent. The best healing for premies is to give them ‘kangaroo care’. Wow! What an amazing experience to hold two little munchkins to my chest at the same time and just listen to each one take their breath.
Watching them and already seeing how different they were was bewildering. I could already see how different their features were from each other, how they positioned themselves while sleeping, how the tones of their little cry were different. I can only imagine that it’s overwhelming to say the least when you’re holding your first-born and you already start to dream in to their future. Holding 2? Wow.
Needles to say the journey has been loads of fun so far. I will let you in to snippets as I recollect the fun and crazy times leading up to now.
My posts will be going back in to the past sometimes and then back in the present. Enjoy the ride.