Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Advanced Studies In Twin Development, part XXIV

Aaron and Gretchen, as members-in-good-standing of the Terrible Twos Club, are both prone to irrational, persistent tantrums. However, I've noticed that they never actually pitch fits at the same time. To steal "Law & Order" jargon, their fits are consecutive, rather than concurrent.

Could it be they've figured out that if they both unleashed their impressive arsenal of shrieks, sobs, and dramatic collapses at once, I would be forced to retreat to my bathroom with a bottle of Bacardi Dark and a handful of Jonah's Xanax, and I wouldn't come out for three days?


My current theory is that the twins' tantrums are polarizing - the farther one retreats into the dark depths of hysteria, the sweeter and sunnier the other becomes. And I didn't arrive at this conclusion from any serious application in child psychology. Both Aaron and Gretchen take great pains to point it out to me, i.e.:

Gretchen (flailing on the floor): No, Mommy! I don't WANT big-girl cup! SIPPY CUP! No, Mommy!! SIPPY CUP! SIPPY CUP SIPPY CUP SIPPY CUP SIPPY - "

Me: Gretchen, we don't scream at dinner. If you're going to pitch a fit, I'm going to take you out of the kitchen.

Aaron (proudly): I not pitching a fit, Mommy.

I'm always unsure how to respond in these situations. I know you're not supposed to compare siblings to one another, because it makes them self-conscious, paranoid and anorexic. But Gretchen's tantrums are particularly shrill. So I usually respond something along the lines of: "That's right, my good, sweet boy. You're not pitching a fit! See that, Gretchen? See what good, compliant, quiet children get - candy! hugs! toys! Good boy, Aaron!" (I'm paraphrasing here.)

I'm interested to see how this dynamic evolves as the twins get older. I'm hoping they'll up the ante, and instead of trying to impress me with an absence of problem behavior, their friendly competition will spur them on to greater and greater achievements: straight As, scholarships, lucrative patents, presidential commendations, those sorts of things.

Hey, whatever works.

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