My twins are growing up rapidly, their minds grasping concepts that sometimes even elude me. Yesterday my husband was explaining to one of them that she couldn’t jump and dance in the bathtub because she could get really hurt. The babies replied: “Then one baby.”
They understood that should one of them get really hurt or die, there would only be one left. The magnitude of this thought for a two year old makes my mind spin.
Another concept that they are coming around to is that of their separate identities. They identify this by using their names.
My twins have very different personalities. Dulce is the sweetheart – accident prone, happy, eager to please. She has HULK SMASH RAGE when you piss her off, but barring those extreme circumstances, she’s quite docile.
Natalina is the schemer. Smart as a whip, she always wants to try things she’s not supposed to be doing. She’s an explorer, a rebel. Being in her parents’ good graces means little to her. Or so I thought.
Over the past few days, Natalina has started saying, “I’m Dulce!” At first, I thought it was just Natalina being Natalina, trying to upset Dulce just for the fun of getting a rise out of her. I would correct her. “No, you’re Lilly. Now stop upsetting Dulce.”
But this morning, Natalina was adamant about this. She was Dulce. The argument was coming to blows by the time I got over there to step in. I began with my normal spiel to Natalina about how she is NOT Dulce and could she please stop being mean, when a lightbulb went off in my head.
“Oh, my goodness!” I said. “If you’re Dulce, then where is Natalina? I miss Natalina so much. Oh, I love her so much and I want to see her. I need my Natalina. I need Lilly. Where is she? Oh, mommy is so sad. Lilly is gone and mommy is so sad. She misses Lilly so much.”
Dulce tried to point out to me that Lilly was, in fact, sitting right there. When she couldn’t get through to me, she grabbed my face and kissed it, trying to make me happy again. Finally, Dulce caught on a little bit and told me to ask Bean where Lilly was. I did. When Bean told me that Lilly was sitting right there (You see, it couldn’t have been Dulce, because part of the underlying problem is Natalina feels like Dulce is dictacting her life.) I turned and saw my Natalina. Beaming at me. Ready for a hug.
She needed to hear that she was important. She needed to hear that she was loved and would be missed. Her personality is such that she receives discipline a tad more than Dulce, and I was naive to think she didn’t notice. She noticed and right now can’t grasp exactly why. Her mind had maybe jumped to the most egotistical (and thus easiest) explanation. Mommy doesn’t like her as much as mommy likes Dulce. The only way to fix this problem, then, is to be Dulce.
“I’m Dulce,” she said. And, I, at first, still not getting it, solidified her theory as Natalina still got reprimanded, even as Dulce.
I’m so thankful I accidentally searched deeper. It’s something I must always remember. Surface problems, especially if they begin to recur, are not surface problems. What I thought was an annoying attempt to upset her sister, was really a serious plea to help her face an identity issue.
Of every important lesson toddlers learn at this age, loving, accepting and securing their identities must be one of the most important. We, as adults, who already have our relationships with our identities cemented for better or for worse, must remember that identities don’t come automatically with birth. They must be learned, cherished and loved.
Tales of an Unlikely Mother is on Babble.com. We’re number 14, just scroll down and click on the thumbs up!