Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Fifteen (Identical Identicals)

On Sunday, Tim reminded me that as of this morning, we will have parented for a total of 50 child years. I know that sounds weird to just about everyone, but the number made me realize that with the twins' birthday today--holy cow, they are 15 (!)--that 50 is quite a number. Clearly, those years have overlapped and that 50 really means nothing. But something about it makes me feel very, very old and also makes me think I should be wiser than I am.

And of course, just the fact that here we are, at 15th birthdays for Zoe and Talia.... How did we get here and how did we get here so quickly?

This year hasn't been the easiest. Fourteen brought with it a whole host of teenage angst, the likes of which I hadn't seen for a long while. Sullen faces, refusal to do what I asked, shoddy workmanship. All of those things sprung up this year like crocuses in the spring, but let me tell you--the flowers are much lovelier! Teenagers are, in a word, ugly at times, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

But last year at this time, I made a promise to the girls. I said,
I'm trying to think of you in the moment. I'm trying to see you as you are right now. I'm trying to let you be who you are without all the micromanaging I'm inclined to do. I'm trying to let you learn your own lessons, fight your own battles, and plan your own agendas. I'm trying to back off a little, not because I don't love you, but because I want to celebrate you. Each of you. Talia. Zoe. Not even Talia and Zoe, but then again, yes to the and of course. I'm going to concentrate on allowing you to learn your own lessons, take your own experiences, and watch you as you shape your own future.
Oh, I tried all right. I tried so hard to stick with that program over the last 12 months. I gave them cell phones. I stepped away from checking grades online and making sure they stayed in touch with friends. I allowed them to completely make their own lunches, hoping they chose wisely with respect to food. I clung to the belief that they'd make the right decisions at school, especially this past fall, when they entered high school as only two freshman in a vast sea of 2300 students.

Did I succeed in my plan? I'm not really sure, but I think to some degree, I have. Over this past year, despite the issues with math (let's not go there), and grades (let's not go there, either), I have watched these two come into their own a little bit at a time. Zoe and Talia do not share the same class schedule, and so when they come home from school, I get two versions of a day now, instead of just one. I think then, I celebrate "each" and not "them." They've both made new friends, another key that we're celebrating "each" and not "them." And, they've come into their own with respect to styles--both hair (Zoe's is blue) and clothing (Talia wears more black). Zoe. Talia. Not Zoe and Talia.

What I find so interesting, though, is that even with my letting go, per se, and their ability to find something about themselves that needs to stand out, the girls are still, 15 years later, so doggone the same. I haven't shared this with them yet, but a couple of weeks ago, I had these two conversations:
Talia: Mom! I think I know what I want to get Zoe for her birthday.
Me: Okay, what?
Talia: Do you know what a fidget cube is?
Me: No.
Talia: Well, it's this cube that you can press things on, you know, click them on then off.
Me: Like a pen that might drive someone bonkers?
Talia: Yes and no. I can show you, come on.
Talia showed me what a fidget cube was and I agreed that we could order one for Zoe, but that I needed to find out what Zoe wanted to get Talia before I did any ordering.

Two days later, Zoe ran into my room and flung herself on the bed. (I know you know where this is going.)
Zoe: I know what I want to get Talia.
Me: Oh? What?
Zoe: Do you know what a fidget cube is?
At this point, my face almost split in two with laughter and I made the immediate decision to lie to my daughter.
Me: No.
Zoe: Well, it's this cube that you can press things on.
Me: Oh, and we can get it on Amazon?
Zoe: Yeah.
Me: I'll look it up tomorrow and you can show me which one to buy.
I am in no way surprised that Zoe and Talia wanted to buy each other essentially the same gift. These ladies embody what I'll call identical identicals. And that gets me thinking that no matter what, no matter how much I try to love them as an individual persons, it's like there's this inertia pushing them back together, forcing me to remember that they began as one single-celled organism. And I guess I'll just have to be okay with that.

Happy Birthday, Zoe! Happy Birthday, Talia!


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