“Are they twins?”
It’s a question I hear on a regular basis. Gus and Mia are six months apart in age. They share the same coal-black hair, the same large almond eyes, and the same beautiful bronzed Guatemalan skin. But no. They aren’t twins. They don’t, as far as I know, share any of the same genetic heritage.
But you would never know it. Sure, he’s a little taller and she’s a little stouter. Yes, he is slightly ahead of her developmentally, although that gap is quickly closing. But they are two peas in a pod. They can practically finish one another’s sentences. They are always accutely aware of the other’s whereabouts and activities. Neither likes for the other to be upset, at least not for too long. They are just like twins.
Gus joined our family almost two years ago, seven months after Mia’s debut. For the first several months, it wasn’t too unusual for one or the other of them to spend a few days alone with grandparents while the other stayed home. Then for some reason that I’m not sure I know, that stopped. For over a year, where one has been, the other has been right behind.
My mom and I have talked recently about how they need some time apart again, to receive individualized attention and have the opportunity to develop a sense of “self” apart from “us.” (My dad says that they need to learn that they are not a four-legged creature.) I’ve been tentative about going through with it, however, because I knew how hard the separation would be.
Today was the day. Anna still feels crappy (to put it mildly) because of shingles. The combination of pain and two rowdy preschoolers was threatening to become deadly. After much consideration and debate, my mom and I decided that Gus, the rowdier of the two, would spend a few days at the farm. Mia would have “girls only” time at home.
Mia was still taking her nap when Gus left. He loves the farm, but has some separation anxiety. As I strapped him in his carseat and kissed him goodbye, he refused to look me in the eye. Ouch.
When Mia woke up, she immediately began asking for her brother. She didn’t panic until she got in the car and noticed his carseat was missing. “I want my Gus,” she whined.
It didn’t take long for either of them to warm up to the idea of being the center of attention. Still, they have asked for one another about fifty times over the course of the evening.
Mia was in the bathtub when my mom called for a nighttime check-in. She put Gus on the phone and the first thing out of his mouth was, “Where’s Mia?” I held the phone down to her ear to see if they would talk. You would not believe how her face lit up when she heard her brother’s voice. They carried on an excited conversation, part of which I actually understood. As my mom and I began to retrieve the phones, they both had to say a final goodbye.
“I love you, Mia.”
“I love you, Gus. Come home.”
“I come home soon, Mia. I come home real soon!”
I had tears in my eyes. For all the challenges of parenting two preschoolers, for all the noise and chaos, for the mounds of dirty clothes, for the wake-up calls that come way too early, for all the pinched pennies, for all the freedom and spontaneity I gave up – it was SO worth it.