Friday, April 20, 2012

Assault with a Deadly Brother

There was a magical time in the parenting of my twin boys—somewhere between the initial unsure footsteps and tentative babble of a year ago and the sprinting, climbing, talking machines of the present—when they seemed destined to be perfectly disciplined little angels who were truly kind to one another. That false wall has come crashing down as of late, as it is wont to do, and all the bricks from that wall have teeth marks.

Raiden used to take an almost disturbing degree of joy in sinking his new teeth into his brother’s flesh. This seemed to come from a lack of awareness and didn’t seem designed to hurt his brother, but rather it was a new experience and made Timothy squeal at what must have been a particularly satisfying decibel. Timothy engaged in this, too, but to a lesser degree. We seemed to break them of this desire through a judicial application of stern “nos,” after which we entered the above mentioned short era of mostly peaceful coexistence between the boys.

"Boys, that goes for brothers, too!"
 Around the same time that they began exploring the impact their shockingly strong jaws had on one another’s soft flesh, the twins also began to share in really cute ways that continue to this day. For example, if you give one of them a cookie and they realize that their brother lacks one, they will almost always split it and share without any prompting. This seems an almost natural instinct, something derived from their “twinness” far more than from any lesson we’ve tried to impart. I should also confess that if you give them both new toys that are identical, they will want their brother’s version desperately.

While the sharing and not sharing continues, the ‘biting as a form of exploring’ has ceased and the temporary truce has been broken, as has skin. We have passed into the territory of maiming for defense and, as far as I can tell, sheer entertainment. They have switched roles, however; it is primarily Timmy who picks on his brother, but Raiden will seek revenge after a few bites and shoves (though it should be mentioned that Raiden absolutely wails at the slightest touch from his brother sometimes). Both Amanda and I have found angry looking football-shaped bruises on legs, backs, and even feet. The frequent appeance makes me almost worry that one day we’ll get a visit from Child Welfare asking what evil animal we allow to occupy our home and attack our children; this fear is compounded by their daycare’s assertion that they’re nothing but sweet little sharers and mutual comforters while at school.

We spend lots of time saying “no” and countless hours putting boys in corners to much protest, but it seems to do little good. In fact, the only effect our parenting seems to be having so far is that the boys will commit some act of violence on one another, and then hug because they know we’re going to make them do so as a way to apologize. The affected twin usually takes this opportunity to retaliate by finding a particularly sensitive bit of skin to grip between their teeth.

Mental note: capture boys assaulting one another in cute way & post it online. Attempt to profit from sudden internet fame in non-exploitative manner. Mental note 2: try to get them to speak with a British accent. 
So… We’re picking up a pair of timeout chairs soon. Do folks have any advice beyond that? *sigh* What happened to my sweet little angels? I mean, they’re extraordinarily funny little men and I’ve no desire to have the littler versions of them back, but I did really enjoy the peace.

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