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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Sickness Olympics

When you are a twin, you're constantly vying for someone's attention. You're never getting someone's undivided self. You learn to share and take turns, but if you're three, well, sometimes those lessons don't always stick. You love your sister more than anything, but sometimes you just want her to disappear for a hot second so you can get a hug without her clamoring up for the same attention. Is nothing to be yours, ever?

I can't imagine this.

It ramps up tenfold when they're sick. Especially since one usually gets the other sick, meaning the sick-phases are rarely in sync. One almost always feels better than the other one. In physical symptoms, that is.

This particular illness first hit Dulce over the weekend. She got a lot of attention because she was quite sick and she needed it. Natalina was fine, bouncing off the walls, and trying to distract me from caring for Dulce at every opportunity, but in a good-natured way.

Natalina fell really ill just yesterday, as Dulce began her upswing. Now, Dulce had gotten used to all the extra attention, and resented the shift as I had to turn my eyes to Lilly for a while. She tantrumed, cried, pretended to be sicker than she was and tried all sorts of things to even the balance of attention out.

I try, really try, to give both kids an equal share, but when one is sick, I cannot take time to comfort the other one's jealousy. I'm busy trying to break a fever or calm a coughing fit.

It becomes a competition as to who is the most sick.

It's not that I don't love you, child, it's that I cannot comfort you while I comfort your sister, especially since you both refuse to share my affection. I can't sit with both of them at the same time. I can't hug both of them at the same time. I can't do anything with the two of them. That messes with their competition.

This spills into wellness, as well, with the occasional "You said Dulce was beautiful. I'm not beautiful." Or "You called Lilly nice, I'm not nice?"

The sooner the girls get the notion of "both" the better. But I can't say I fault them for not understanding it. Most children don't have to learn "both" until, well, they grow up and get married.

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1 comment:

  1. Gosh, I have this also, with just two 22-month-olds (three must be so much worse!). When one is hurt or sick and needs a hug, the other is horning in on her action non stop. I've started to tell them the full story, although I know they don't understand yet, "I need a few minutes alone with R; I'll come back as soon as possible to give you a hug. You can offer her comfort too, if you like, but you can't be in my arms right now." This doesn't work (ha!), so I've started taking the one girl out of the room for quiet down time with me. But for now I'm sticking to telling them why it's happening this way, just to increase empathy on their part over time. Exhausting. I'll let you know how it turns out. Good luck!



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