When I’m making dinner, my husband will play some game or another with the babies. Yesterday, it was this:
He started with the numbers. “Open number…4!” Like a shot, Natalina twirled it open, while Dulce contemplated. “Open number…1!” Natalina slides it open before Dulce even knows what happened. “Open number…3!” POP! Natalina again.
“Poor Dulce,” my husband said, “you are so slow on the uptake. Why so slow baby? Natalina, give Dulce a chance.” And he made Natalina wait the next time until Dulce popped open the correct number. She got it on the first try, she just had to think about it for a bit longer, whereas with Natalina it was an instant reaction.
But before we, as parents, even had time to worry about uneven development, confusion, memory skills, or any other problem we would automatically foist upon our baby, my husband randomly changed the game.
“Open the…giraffe!” Like a whiz-kid, Dulce slammed open the giraffe compartment, leaving Natalina in the dust. “Okay, now open the…lion!” Dulce again! Two for two! “Open the…elephant!” Natalina sat scratching her chin while Dulce raced across the finish line, popping open the elephant.
Even in identical twins, the way each mind works is so individual, so unique. With no doctoral training, I certainly could never attempt to box the babies into one intelligence category or another. Yet, so often, parents try. Each milestone achieved or failed in a timely fashion is earth-shattering, but we forget those milestones are put in place by a certain type of brain for a certain type of brain. What one baby achieves at six months or 18 months is not necessarily a water mark for what your baby should achieve, even if they’re siblings. Even if they’re twins. For you never know what mental breakthrough has occurred or is right around the corner that we’re not testing for. You may be looking for numbers. Your child may be seeing animals. It does not make one better or worse than the other. It is actually magical in that it provides the world with all sorts of views and all kinds of thinkers.
By pushing our children to be a specific way, to think a particular thought, to memorize certain facts, we are doing them a disservice, and we may be missing out on the very special way in which they are viewing the world all on their own. If my husband hadn’t started asking about the animals, we would have undoubtedly talked later about whether or not Dulce was lagging developmentally, never seeing the forest for the trees. Thankfully, in an unintentional twist, we got to see both.
Every child deserves to see things and discover things in their own way on their own time. Some will never understand certain things, will never be able to move in certain ways, will never, will never, will never. But they will bring something into this world that no one else can. They will bring their new eyes, their new thoughts, to an old situation. We don’t have to be the same to be perfect. We just have to be.
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