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Childrearing

Twinning: There’s No Milestone Race

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 b Twinning b  There s No Milestone Race  checkered racing flags jpgHaving twins can be the most amazing experience of your life. It can also cause you to wake up in the morning wishing you were someone else. Twinning offers an honest depiction of life with twins from a mom who tries to keep things somewhere in the middle.

It’s very difficult not to compare your twins as they pass developmental milestones. Everything you read or hear on the subject will stress that you should never, ever compare your twins unless you are trying to ruin their lives or win an award for Worst Twin Parent. While it seems logical that babies who are exactly the same age should be able to master the same skills around the same time, that of course is not the case, for fraternal as well as identical twins.

My fraternal boy/girl twins have been hitting developmental milestones at different rates since they were infants. They always fell into the broad range of acceptable development for their age, so there was never any cause for real concern. Even so, I’ll admit that when months would go by after only one twin passed a milestone, I couldn’t help but worry a bit about the other one.

My two were always very different babies, with interests that motivated them to do things at different times. My daughter Allie has always been very curious and in a hurry to learn new things and see different sights. She was more independent than her brother since day one. She was almost always the first one to master physical skills.

My son Nick was more cautious and much less interested in physical milestones. While my daughter was used to taking a tumble because she was perpetually leaping before she looked, a little fall would have Nick howling. He didn’t want to do things unless he knew he was going to do it correctly. His interests were more verbal and intellectual. Blocks, patterns, numbers and letters fascinated him, while crawling just did not.

As they grew and I got to know their personalities, I could predict who was going to reach a milestone first. What it all seemed to boil down to was that Nick was a smart little homebody who was happiest hanging out with me while Allie was looking to master her “life skills” so she could move out and get her own place by the time she was two.

Alexandra crawled first, and Nick rolled. Then Allie started toddling at 12 months, and Nick kept rolling. He saw no need for walking at the time. He knew that I would taxi him around in my arms to his heart’s content, or that eventually I’d get him whatever toy it was that he wanted but couldn’t reach.

In the backyard, Nick was content to sit on our picnic blanket in the shade, playing with an electronic alphabet ball that sang the Alphabet Song and gave the phonetic pronunciation of every single letter. Nick would watch as Allie took off running with a plastic yellow walker and then he’d look back down at his toy with concentration and give it a spin.

When Nick was 16 months old and still not walking, I did call the pediatrician, who said that Nick had strong leg muscles and could probably walk if he wanted to. Just as she predicted, one sunny day we were outside and Allie ran by, and this time Nick watched her run past and looked at me as if to ask, “Why aren’t I doing that?” He proceeded to crawl after her, leaving the blanket and alphabet ball behind him, and within a week he was walking on his own.

At 19 months, Allie was waving goodbye and acting out “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and Nick could identify the numbers one through nine. At 20 months, Allie was choosing her own outfits and Nick started saying the alphabet phonetically. This was how things progressed for my twins: Allie would take on any physical challenge such as getting dressed by herself, while Nick devoted his attention to learning the alphabet, numbers and how to pronounce it all. They were taking their own time and doing things that interested them, and passing developmental milestones along the way.

You can reach this post’s author, Gloria Fallon, on twitter.

(photo: doomu / Shutterstock)

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