Finish this phrase: “I wish I had a twin. At least you always had _______ __ ___ ___”
I’ve introduced myself as a twin hundreds, if not thousands of times. If you finished this phrase, “someone to play with,” then I’d say you’re in the 90% of people I’ve introduced myself to. Other popular statements: “Twins are so cool. Twins are hard work. Twins are so much fun!” Okay yeah, all of those are true. But there are definitely downsides as well.
Because yes, there was always someone there to play with. But there was always someone there. And for that reason, making other friends was rather difficult.
Now, I don’t want to discount factors such as personality and distance. We drove 25 miles to school, so school friends couldn’t just come hang out. Schwes and I were quiet, too, and we were kind of nerdy know-it-alls. We definitely had some friends, though, but those friendships were hard work, and I think at least part of it was because we were twins.
These are just speculations, but I think there are a few reasons it’s difficult to be friends with a twin. First of all, Schwes and I are nearly identical and when we were young, people had a hard time telling us apart. Think about the last time you started talking to someone you should have known, but whose name you couldn’t quite remember. It’s an awkward feeling, isn’t it? And who would want to force that feeling on themselves constantly? Or else be constantly asking “which one are you?” And trust me, speaking as the twin we definitely got annoyed with people not being able to learn our names. So that limited friends to people who could/chose to figure out who was who.
A second reason is that there are physically two of you, and usually just one friend. Parents, think of it. Your daughter is having a birthday dinner and you tell her, “you can have a friend over, too.” A friend. One friend. Not gonna pick the twins.
Because another reason is that twins are different — if you are actually able to tell them apart, you’ll probably find you like one better than the other. But by that point you probably don’t want to offend the other one by not inviting them, too. So you end up choosing a different friend altogether.
Similarly, parents of twins tell them that they can have one friend over between the two of them. Remember, the twins are different, and they probably like different people. And if by some miracle they do agree on a friend to ask over, that poor friend probably gets pushed and pulled between them like a chew toy. Of course, this is where personality comes in. I remember many times BFF#1 said, “your sister already told me that,” in a (justifiably) exasperated tone. She also (rightly) accused us of arguing. And who wants to hang out with squabblers? (I wouldn’t, either)
There are probably other reasons making friends was hard as a twin, but one final one I’d like to point out is that twins are so used to one another that even though they argue, they know how to play together and have a good time. If you throw someone else in the mix, life becomes infinitely more complicated. For the twin. I mean, yes, kids make it work. But it’s like going to a new grocery store. You know generally how the process works, but things aren’t in the right place and you don’t quite expect what you find, and so you pretty much always end up going back to the store you’re used to. A few failed play dates, and you’re more likely to just stick to playing with your twin.
All right, so there were some difficult things about making friends as a twin. But there were definitely benefits as well. Playing house and school and store were so much more fun when you could actually interact with another human being. And being the same age, we both got turns doing the thing we liked best (because we couldn’t use the big sister clout). And like everyone says — there were always two of us to play. Yes, sometimes we wanted our own space, and we wanted to have two of each toy so we wouldn’t have to share, but in general it was wonderful to have a constant companion.
Especially when it came to chore time. Schwes will tell you horror stories about my dishes and laundry (lack of) skills, but having someone to challenge and sing with and keep company made chores just a little more bearable.
So I guess what I’d like to close with is some advice about twins. If you’re a parent and you have twins, or if your children have friends who are twins, or if you yourself have friends who are twins… here’s my advice, take it or leave it.
- First, allow your twins some alone time. Encourage each of them to spend time doing the things they love, whether that’s something their sibling loves or not.
- Maybe allow two friends over? Or have one child pick a friend this week, and the other pick a friend the next week. Encourage them that it’s okay to have different friends. It’s part of being an individual.
- If you’re the one whose children are friends with twins — it really won’t take that much more effort to host two people from the same family than to host just one. Really.
- If one twin gets invited somewhere without the other, spend some extra special time with the other twin. Make sure she doesn’t feel left out. You can’t make life equal and fair for your children, but you can show them the love that they need, with or without friends.
- Lastly, don’t be afraid to treat twins differently. They’re not the same people, and trust me when I say that as long as you treat them both with respect, they’ll like you better for both knowing who they are and treating them like the real individuals they are.
Finally, I’d like to add: I adore my Schwes. I had her with me as my constant companion for 24 years, and now we’ve been apart for longer than one. We’re happy in our respective places, but I definitely miss that closeness of always having someone to be with.
I love you, Schwes, my first and greatest friend ❤