twins

1). When they’re babies, they start crying at the same time on purpose. With twins, there’s no such thing as a coincidence.

2). Their first complete sentence will be uttered in unison and directed toward each other: “Go away!” Okay, so maybe that’s their tenth sentence, or their hundredth, but it’s the first one that’s uttered with real passion. “Me want juicie” will never be spoken with such vehemence.

3). They keep being twins. One will never get more mature or more insightful than the other. Nonetheless, each will claim, privately, that he is the superior child. One boy will stomp out of the room, and the other will murmur, “He’s got anger issues.” Later the supposedly calm one will slam shut the bedroom door, and his brother will remark, “I can’t help it if I already finished my homework, and he hasn’t. It was easy! Easy for me, anyway.”

4). No matter how much the twins resent each other, never think for a moment that you enjoy a protected status. Know that when you leave the room, they stare into each other’s eyes and intone, “Parents are the real enemy.”

5). Wrestling will no longer be a sport that you refuse to watch on pay-per-view. Instead, it will become a way of life that occurs in your living room, your bathroom, and at the festively-decorated kitchen table that bears a birthday cake with two names inscribed on it. After you get tired of yelling “Stop!” for ten years, you will reflect that lion cubs wrestle, and probably baby gorillas do, too. Everyone in the animal kingdom wrestles! And yes, you are raising a couple of animals. You pray that no one finds out.

6). Just when you are convinced that the best thing would be to have a huge house, so that each boy could come and go without ever having to see the other, you will hear them laughing and playing in their shared bedroom. My God, they love each other! You give thanks that, at bottom, each is the other’s best friend. But know this: they alternate displays of animosity and friendship only because they are trying to mess with you. And it’s working, isn’t it? Doesn’t the world feel terribly unstable?

7). Other people’s children will acquire a saintly glow. You will imagine them gently helping a younger sibling. Maybe the older children even read books to the little ones! At home, your kids never glow. They certainly don’t read to each other. Instead they hunch over devices and yell things like, “I beg of you, do not use that avatar! It’s – fine, use it. But don’t do the water level! It’s too hard! Fine, do it. But don’t take the shortcut! It’s cheating! Fine, do it. Cheater.”

8).They will want to watch different TV shows. They will want different foods for dinner. But they will always want to play with the same toys or the same devices at the exact same time.

9). No matter how old they get, one of them will never cease preening about being an entire minute older than the other.

10). Asking the twins how school went will inspire one of two arguments. The first consists of the alternating phrases: “I get to tell!” “No, I get to tell!” The second consists of: “I told you not to tell!” “But I want to tell!” Happily, though, once you pick them up from their afterschool program on Friday and hear these arguments for the fifth day in a row, you are allowed to go home and eat an entire party-sized bag of potato chips.

11). They will effortlessly use the Jedi mind trick upon each other, often without realizing it. Beware when you ask them what homework is due for the next day, and one of them quickly shouts, “There is no homework!” Watch the eyes of the other twin glaze over as he slowly repeats, “Yeah, there is no homework.” He will believe his own words. You should not.

12). Time becomes ever more elastic with twins. Observe how, if you want them to start studying at six o’clock in the evening, one of them will suddenly have to go to the bathroom. When he returns, the other one will have to blow his nose. Where is that pesky box of tissues? Let’s everybody go look! Then the first one wants a drink of water. Before you know it, it’s eight-thirty, and homework isn’t done, and no one has taken a shower yet. You will wonder why you hear yourself screaming like a maniac.

13). Things will go missing. You will wonder if you are going crazy. Where are the keys to the apartment? That book you were reading? Your MetroCard? You will discover that the secret mission of children is to repurpose the necessary items of your life, and twins are a slick, effective conspiracy of two at accomplishing that end.

14). They will grow up and move away. You will wish you could endure the early years of their twinship all over again.

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Susan M. Gelles

Susan M. Gelles is a writer who lives in the Bronx with her husband and twin sons. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Twins Magazine, and other publications.

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