When I was about ten years old, I was good friends with a girl in my class who was an identical twin. One summer, she invited me to her birthday party. I showed up with just one gift. I don’t remember many details of the day but I do have a vivid memory of swimming in her pool with all the other party guests, fumbling around with an apology that went something like this: “Well, I guess you guys could always share the gift.” She wasn’t impressed and just rolled her eyes. Even at the tender age of ten, I knew that I had committed a social faux pas and I felt like a complete idiot. Two birthday girls, two birthday gifts. Duh!
The irony of this story is not lost on me. Not only do I now have twins but I write about ways in which to avoid this exact type of situation.
Thankfully, however, at age 17, my twins have gotten old enough to where they don’t seem to care about getting gifts from party guests. Just this past birthday, for instance, they had a poker and pizza evening (“Don’t call it a birthday party, Mom.”) with some guys from school. I was not allowed to bake a birthday cake, let alone two. Half the kids who showed up didn’t even know it was their birthday, and my boys were more than fine with that.
Wow, have times changes! When my twins were little, I used to stress about their birthday party, thinking of unique ways to personalize the event for each boy (the Olympic theme party worked well). There were always separate guest lists and separate invitations. I dutifully baked two cakes, and we sang to each boy individually.
When they were little, they shared the day. Now? Not so much. Sure, they had a joint poker “evening,” but our family celebration was a bit splintered for the first time ever. You see, one of my twins now has a girlfriend and he wanted to spend his birthday with her. Completely understandable. My boys are getting at that age where they prefer the company of their peers to the family. It’s sad but a reality that all parents face sooner or later. I gave him my blessing telling him that we’d just postpone our celebratory dinner at a local restaurant for another night. It seemed like a good solution, right?
“It’s my birthday too,” complained his cotwin. “I want to go out on my birthday and I shouldn’t be penalized because my twin chooses to do something else that night.”
But this is all new territory for me. Even though I try my best to treat them individually, they have to share their birthday, don’t they? Maybe not.
After a bit of deliberation, we decided to go out and celebrate one twin’s birthday, a first for our family, and I have to admit, a bit strange. But times are changing with my twins and so is their relationship, and I just need to step back and let it evolve on its own.
This year’s birthday had another “first” that I need to share. On the Big Day, my son’s girlfriend showed up at his school with a surprise lunch from Panda Express—for both boys, not just her boyfriend. Furthermore, she gave each boy a birthday gift, too. A thoughtful and loving surprise for both my sons. Her boyfriend (my son) was touched that she took the time to not only recognize his cotwin but to honor their twinship as well. His cotwin (the currently unattached twin) was surprised and equally delighted by the gesture. (“I mean, who does that Mom?”)
What a great and caring young lady! So where was she when I was ten?