I became a father almost nine years ago. Excuse me while I cry for a second! Ok, I’m back. Oh, I didn’t cry because I’m sentimental. I cried because somehow I survived!!
My dad used to tell me that there were no manuals for fatherhood, and he did the best he could. I’ll admit that i’ve also tried to do the best that I can at all times. I’ll also admit that I have failed on occasion and made mistakes. I guess that is what parenting and adulting is all about. I think I’m gonna cry again….
So, to help out other parents who are going through the process and doing the best that they can (which is a LOT of you), I decided to share with you my 5 BIGGEST surprises of being a twin dad.
1. My boys say the word ‘No’ an awful lot!
That has been a big surprise. I don’t remember saying ‘No’ to my parents so much. I don’t know that my brothers and sisters said it a lot either. It was “unthinkable” back in the Dark Ages when I grew up. Why would they/us say ‘No’? They were our parents, entrusted to love, honor and take care of the kids. And if today’s parents, including moi, have been similarly entrusted, what could possibly be going through the little buggers’ little minds not to understand or appreciate that? What could be simpler and easier, right??? Wrong! The little buggers have minds of their own and choose to do things or NOT do things, or eat or NOT eat, what mommy and daddy have presented to them. Ok, I guess everybody says ‘No’ in their lives. But, what has surprised me is how much they say it.
2. On the flip side of that argument is how often I’ve had to say ‘No’.
Again, not that I was a perfect child (though, I was close and my brothers and sisters were so far away from that!), but I don’t remember my parents saying ‘No’ to me that much and I turned out pretty ok, mostly, sometimes, usually. Is it generational? I’ve seen other mothers and fathers say ‘No’ to their kids. I have seen some say that in a much more commanding way than I do, but whatever. I’m certainly no judge of human behavior. So, why do I have to say ‘No’ more to my kids than it was said to me at their age? Well, probably, there seem to be more, for lack of a better word, stimuli for kids to engage in these days vs. the Dark Ages. The little buggers have more technology, TV and greater accessibility to neighbors and friends than I had.
3. I am definitely surprised by this whole Love/Hate relationship my boys have.
Maybe that’s because they are twins. But, I don’t know. I have seen other kids who have siblings close in age and they appear to have the same kind of thing going on. Sometimes, they get along and, well, sometimes they don’t. It is also kind of hard to predict which emotion will be displayed at any given time. My boys have told me that they don’t like each other. But, in a short while after that, they will play together or talk or joke or wrestle or whatever as if they were best friends. I did not have that kind of relationship with my brothers and sisters. Maybe it’s because they were so significantly older than me. I mean way older!!!
4. Is it me or does it appear that there is a LOT more homework now that before?
Well, ok, there is a lot of homework. There was homework in kindergarten! That has surprised me and so has my boys’ reaction to it. They don’t seem to want to do it! When a teacher gave me homework, I did it right away. Ok, ok, I was the little bugger myself who always did his homework and got straight A’s and was generally the teacher’s pet, but so what? Why don’t my boys have a greater appreciation for it? I’ve explained the whole life process of using it to learn and display what they’ve learned and ultimately to be able to communicate with people which is a skill they will need their whole lives! Still, they resist. I separated this topic from the one about just saying No because it is so prevalent in their lives. This has surprised me that they are so resistant to it. One of the little buggers, Mortimer (not his real name), asked me why does he even have to go to school anymore anyway since he already knows everything? I said, to meet girls. He said, he’s already met them.
5. Are we, as a society, expecting more from our kids now than we’ve ever done?
It has surprised me that, in general, society wants our kids to be fully operational almost upon delivery. We have all this information and technology at our, and their, fingertips and somehow it appears as if we want the little buggers to be able to not only figure things out on their own, but make decisions on how to utilize all that info and behave appropriately. For example, eating. The boys learn about nutrition in school and mommy and I repeatedly go over what would constitute a good meal and adequate diet for the little buggers. Of course, do they listen and act accordingly? Of course NOT! I guess the surprise is how hands on parenting really is and especially, how much of a role model I am for them. I do the best I can.
Parenting is hard. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Parenting with twins is off the charts. I guess that’s a surprise too, i.e., everybody thinks you are doubly blessed with twins (and we are!), but it is also four times the amount of work.
Parenting is also full of surprises. They develop their own personalities and watching them grow is fascinating, mind-boggling, painful, and heart-warming all at the same time. Of course, it would be easier if they just listened to mommy and daddy all the time, wouldn’t it??? The biggest surprise is how hard it is, but also life and love-affirming.
Am I crying again? No just cutting up onions for dinner…I swear.