Last week, Mercedes got the award for Best Player on Court at netball. She deserved it, she totally deserved it. For a kid that had spent half the previous week lying on the couch sick, she put that Centre bib on and she owned the court for a full 40 minutes. When she switched to Goal Attack at half time, she scored five goals. She WAS the Best Player on Court, no doubt about it.
When the coach handed her the certificate, she was positively beaming. She was so proud of herself, and it filled my heart with joy to see her so happy.
Someone, however, wasn’t so happy. Sienna had also played a great game, first in Wing Defence, and then in Wing Attack, and she was most put out at all the attention Mercedes was getting. But there could only be one Best.
It’s not a new problem, in fact it’s par for the course when parenting twins. One gets something, the other doesn’t, and World War Gremlin ensues. It does happen to a lesser degree with the other girls, there’s a lot of competition between them, but with twins, it’s far more acute – they’re the same age, they expect to be treated the same and given the same things. And life doesn’t always work that way!
The first time it struck us was when they were doing athletics as toddlers. They’re both good runners, and would often place first and second or second and third in their races. Occasionally however, they’d place third and fourth, and ribbons were only awarded to the first three across the line. The first time it happened, there was total devastation. I’ll never forget watching Sienna’s expectant face drop as she realised Mercedes was getting a ribbon and she wasn’t.
We duly explained to both of them that sometimes that’s the way life goes, that we can’t all be winners all of the time, and that it’s nice to celebrate each other’s achievements as well as our own. The silence was deafening, the eye roll said it all. Yeah, right. Celebrate others’ achievements? Ain’t nobody got time for that – now where’s my damn ribbon?!
It came up again the first time Sienna got invited to a birthday party and Mercedes didn’t. They were three and at preschool, and up until that point they’d always both been invited to parties together. I reached out to my local multiple birth club for advice as I wasn’t entirely sure I was ready for World War Gremlin! In the end, I called the birthday boy’s mum and asked if it would be okay to bring Mercedes as well. Well, that was up there with ten most awkward conversations ever! I felt like somewhat of a cheeky beggar asking her to change all of her arrangements to accommodate my hanger-on, while she was mortified at the realisation Sienna was a twin and apologetic at leaving Mercedes out, which in turn made me feel even worse for making her feel bad! But in the end they did both go, and we dodged that particular bullet.
Until the following year when they were in separate Kindy classes and this time, Mercedes brought home an invitation and Sienna didn’t. Again, I contemplated my position. But unlike at preschool where they’d both been friends with the birthday boy, one of the reasons we’d agreed when the teachers suggested separate classes was to encourage them to form their own independent friendships. So I decided that while World War Gremlin would almost certainly ensue, it had to be done. I RSVP’d for Mercedes. Sienna was less than impressed, but begrudgingly settled for a ‘Mummy and Sienna’ date at the mall as compensation after we dropped Mercedes at the party.
Having drawn the line in the sand as far as birthday parties are concerned, after that first time, we’ve not had too many dramas. Occasionally one will throw a tanty because she perceives that the other gets invited to more parties than her, or because a particular party is at some cool place that they both want to go, but for the most part, they suck it up.
When it comes to awards and accolades though, we’re clearly not there yet! Sienna did eventually give up on the sulking about not getting Best Player on Court, but not because of anything I said to assuage her. Nope, it was mostly because she realised that it actually worked in her favour – the award comes with a voucher for a free children’s meal at a local bistro and I’d promised to take them out on the following Thursday to use it. If they’d both gotten it at the same time, they’d only get one dinner outing, but this way, when Sienna inevitably gets her turn at being Best Player on Court (they’re seven, everyone gets a turn), they’ll get to go out for dinner again. Those little twin heads are pretty clever when they get together!