Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Eleven-TEEN (rough draft)

“Daddy! I’m Eleven-TEEN”, my youngest twin said with the incredulous and perfectly executed eye-roll of a seasoned adolescent. I can’t recall what we were arguing about. It doesn’t really matter anyway. Facts are inconsequential relative to the greater truth of “I’m right and YOU are wrong”.  I am playing the role of YOU this evening. In fairness, the role belongs to my wife. I am merely the understudy. Tweedle B has been affirming her status as a teenager these days, drawn to all things adolescent and salacious. It hasn’t been all that bad. She and I have been having some interesting conversations lately, that is…..when I can get her to talk. With Twin B I have to employ stealth parenting.

Last night we had a good one, here is the gist:

We were stargazing and snuggled up. For some reason we got on the subject of ancient Greece and I began to tell the story of Icarus. She decided that Icarus flew too close to the sun out of “Pride and Arrogance”.  She arrived at this conclusion after speculating that Icarus was about her age, Eleven-TEEN. In her opinion, boys her age are inherently arrogant and way too proud of themselves. With great effort I resisted the urge to point out the pinch of arrogance and pride the whole "I'm right YOU are wrong" sensibility requires. Instead, we started talking about “pride” in both it’s positive and negative aspects. Finally, and stealthily, I asked her what she was proud of.
         “My difference!”, she replied without a trace of hesitation.

I found this curious, given that she is an identical twin. As an identical twin myself, I know first hand how hard it is to hold on to a sense of identity independent of your clone. As a very young child I had to grasp at straws to find a defining characteristic. It mostly came out in statements like, "I’m the one with the BLUE sneakers, not the RED ones", or more importantly "I like Batman, he likes Superman". We never did agree upon who got to be John and who got to be Paul when we played air guitar in synch with  Sgt. Pepper’s. It was a forgone conclusion that Butchy, our Lhasa Apso, got to be Ringo. He had the eyes for the part and was, in all likelihood,the better drummer.

         Twin B feels proud of her “difference” and I suspect Twin A might be a little resentful of it. The twins simultaneously feel compelled to differentiate from each other and feel rejected by the distinction that creates. I don’t envy their journey into adulthood, but I do empathize with their experience. My twin and I, unknowingly, struggled with the very same issue. I wish I could remember how we made some peace with it; how we moved from competitors to a relationship of mutual respect? The simple fact is, Glenn is among the best men I know, and anyone saying otherwise is itching for a fight.