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Twins that throw poo and other adventures with multiples
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If the matter of multiples is leaving you behind in the game and covered in goo, here are some things to consider as you figure out your game plan while cleaning up the mess. - photo by J'Nel Wright
My niece had only turned her back for one minute. Nevertheless that was plenty of time for her dynamic toddler duo to convert their dirty diapers into hand-thrown bombs that plastered the nursery room wall. It took a week for the smell to dissipate.

Fortunately, not every family endures twins that throw poo, but if you are expecting twins, or are currently raising multiples, here are some things to consider as you introduce them to the world.

1. Lets cover the obvious The cost.

It costs a lot to care for twins. Everything is times two. Cribs, car seats, co-payments, go-gos, bikesyou name it. According to these statistics, it costs an average of $241,080 to raise one child in the United States today. That is staggering! As you are eating macaroni and cheese for the third time this week, just remember that your time of financial sacrifice is only temporary and will subside. Until then, here's a tip: when people offer tokens of generosity, take them up on it.

2. They may look alike, but they wont act alike.

Recognize that differing personalities emerge early. This forces a difference in dynamics. My neighbor knows her twins well enough that when one is playing quietly, things are OK. He is probably just playing. However, when the other is being quiet, its time to explore what he is doing while making sure the car is still parked in the driveway and the dog hasnt been shaved. Also, twins shift roles. Sometimes one acts as ring leader while the other follows. The next day or moment those roles can alternate just enough to keep you on your toes.

3. They may require varying degrees of discipline.

When it comes to discipline for a collective infraction, one form of punishment doesnt always fit both children. Consider our "poo pitchers" as an example. One child may react to the removal of toys or privileges. The other child could sit in the corner all day and never interpret that as a punishment. The point is, its not the form of punishment that gets the stage, it is the message you are trying to convey through punishment that needs the spotlight. If that means different (yet equal) forms of punishmentso be it.

4. Recognize that relationships may vary.

This isnt a matter of favoritism. This is a process of recognizing unique connections with separate individuals who also happen to be twins. One may enjoy cuddling on a warm lap while the other may prefer laying on a cold pillow while his back is rubbed. Making a commitment to spend individual time with each child will reinforce those unique relationships.

It's not uncommon for a child to relate more naturally to one parent versus another. That doesn't mean there cannot be positive interaction with either parent. Finding a common ground of interests can sustain that relationship. The important thing to remember is providing a positive and supportive enviroment for both children.

5. Its the two of them, and then theres the outside world.

Your children arrived as a self-sufficient unit. They have a built-in buddy who shares their space, their life experience, and their language. This type of self-reliance can sometimes make it difficult for the outside world to introduce itself.

When a former co-worker began considering pre-schools for her twin boys, she was surprised to discover how little her boys were able to communicate. They understood each other, she understood what they were saying, but nobody else did. Most people wouldnt equate bobby with needing a blanket nor identifying nummies as a bag of doughnuts. (Frankly, I can think of lots of things that would qualify as nummy.)

Make no mistake, leaving the house is an event, but inviting opportunities for your young ones to interact with others at an early age can encourage communication skills to develop normally.

6. Development could vary.

Yes, they were born on the same day; mere moments from each other. But that is when their individual journeys began. Children are going to respond to their environment in different ways. They may be twins, but their ability to develop interactive, coordinative and communicative skills is an individual process. It can disconcerting at times to find activities from which both children may benefit. One plays well with a ball, but the fact that the other lacks a similar level of coordination doesnt mean that child is slow developmentally. Well, actually it doesbut it isnt cause for concern.

7. Teamwork, cooperation and sharing are easy concepts to teach.

Sometimes, they can learn these concepts a little too quickly. Of course, I discovered an illustration of this while my niece and her husband were successfully trapped in the bathroom from an extremely well-executed Nerf gun ambush by a twin team of toddlers with deadly aim. Send help. The last I heard, they were using the dog and a promise of ice cream sandwiches to negotiate a cease-fire.

Here's the good news. In a world that is preoccupied with "self," you have two children who have never known a world without the other. Early on, they learned the reality of having to wait, the need to share and the rewards to working together instead of going it alone. Yes, this creates an extreme amount of sacrifice on your part. But, being the parent of multiples has its rewards. Double the work means double the hugs and kisses and love. That's an equation worth celebrating.