My 7 year old daughters are really just barely “twins” these days. It wasn’t always this way. These two had to match down to the socks for the first five years of their lives. People assumed that I dressed them alike purposely. I did try to dress them differently though. I really did. We would start the day by picking out such wonderful outfits that they loved. We would even get them on! Then, a shirt wouldn’t fit right, or a skirt was a shade of pink that hurt someone’s eyes. And, it would start. The Changing. Once The Changing started I would have 2 options – I could try to wait it out patiently and hope they’d both settle on something they loved, or I could just cut my losses and pull out any 2 matching outfits and put them on to instantly end The Changing. And then, overnight, at just turned 6 years old, it all stopped. I woke up to a case of the opposites. One salt and the other pepper. Oil and water. Night and day. They are so different now.
I once glanced over at FratBoy when she was just under 2 and told her, “If i cut you open, you’ll bleed glitter.” She looked me right in the eyes and replied, “It will be dangerwous glitter!” And that’s about everything you need to know about FratBoy. She is equal parts frat boy in the making and ethereal being, not quite of this world. Magic and menace – the child is a walking contradiction. She loves high heels and make-up and belching the alphabet. Her usual reply to just about any bit of trouble is, “I’m not scared’a you or anything you bring witcha!” She has a multitude of friends, but she’s a girl that has a bestie and her bestie is her person. Cristina and Meredith got nuthin on these girls. Nuthin.
Now, my Ladybird though… Birdie has an assortment of friends. Everyone loves her, and she loves everyone else. She plays in groups full of boys or quietly in corners with her more studious classmates reading and writing books all of their own making. Birdie is an academic but also an emerging athlete. Birdie swaggers when she walks and belts out “Sunshine and Whiskey” while conquering her yard science experiments. She throws her horns up when both the Beastie Boys and Eminem come on and makes her mama proud when she repeatedly refuses to sing the naughty words.
The two girls absorbed and adapted the pieces of each other during their first five years and presented most often as a unit, and they preferred it that way. Birdie and FratBoy. Always the AND. They were such a fierce-some unit. I once stomped into their bedroom for the umpteenth time one night to tell them to quiet down and GO TO SLEEP to find them in their beds on the opposite sides of the room with the blankets pulled fast around their little heads and was struck silent when in absolute only-twins-can-pull-that-off unison, they sang from under the covers, “Yes, Miss Hannigan…!!!” (Does your head or your heart explode when that type of thing happens?) Same. So much same.
And now different. There are so few things these little girls share these days. There is one thing though, one thing that they never argue or bicker about. One thing that they agree unequivocally on. That “thing” is Heart. Heart is the friend that these two girls have in common. Heart is a puppy come to life in a little girl’s body. She is a clumsy, smiling light in this world. Her wit is unmatched, and her appraisals of most situations, honest and astute. She is the truest, most loyal and kind friend this tainted sphere has to offer. Heart is the magic in their world.
Recently Heart’s parents did something that so many uptown, well-educated, yet insulated, parents assume is typical in our world, and yet is absolute not. They came to us when their child asked about our family and how it was created given our lack of the necessary parts and people. They asked for advice and support and offered their own (Apple / tree with these people – like, really). When we expressed our gratitude for their forthrightness and courage, Heart’s mama and daddy were saddened and slightly shocked to learn that their behavior was far from the status quo. They told us what year it is in case we had forgotten, and asked if we were certain when we told them that while we had surrounded our family with families and environments in which we were both safe and well loved, that acceptance (and hell, sometimes accuracy) was not what we had endured people telling their children, and sometimes ours, about how we grew our family. They were horrified to hear some of what we’d abided. We thanked them for their indignation and asked for their help. I’ll now ask for yours.
You don’t have to like my family. I teach my children daily that there are people in this world that won’t like them and there are people in this world that they won’t like. I teach them to stay away from people they don’t care for without being hurtful. That is my rule for them. It’s a cool rule. Simple and easy to follow and teach to others. Kindness should always come first, even if the other person is a jack-rabbit (yes, we use that term). I tell them that I hope that they give grace, forgive always, and be flexible. I teach them to find facts and ask when they’re not certain about things. This is exactly what Mr. and Mrs. Heart had done for us, and I’m going to do it for some of you now. I’m going to try to help you understand how to speak to your children about how our family was built. Here is what Mr. and Mrs. Heart allowed us to tell their baby girl, our Heart:
Families are made of differences. Differences are the best parts. Some families are big like ours, and some are small and include only adults. Some have pets and some don’t even like goldfish. Sometimes, babies come out of the bellies of the person that will become their mother and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they grow in one belly, and they get to be loved and raised by a person with an entirely different belly! In order to make a baby, there always has to be male and female parts, and sometimes people want to help others whose bodies can’t make the parts they need or families that are missing either the male or female parts. Those people are called donors. Donors are wickedly cool folks. They aren’t the moms, or step-dads, or grammys, or any of the other people who love and protect a baby. Donors are helpers only. The people who parent that child become his or her parents. Sometimes there is one and sometimes there are a few parents and sometimes they live in one house and sometimes they live in two. And in every single house, every single family is different and different is just fine.
by Tracy Breaux.
Posted November 17, 2017.