If there is a better argument for the existence of the soul than identical twins, I don’t know what it is. Two people, genetically identical, raised in identical circumstances, who are… completely different. Just like our girls’ names, which are anagrams, you’ve got the same ingredients but different kids.
My girls developed Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome very suddenly when I was 34 weeks pregnant, and were delivered immediately. Still, Celia was larger (6 lbs) than Alice (5 1/2 lbs) and the difference appeared in their faces. Even today we have a potato (thinner, longer face: Alice) and a tomato (chubbier, rounder face: Celia). Still, if they aren’t side by side, it’s not immediately obvious which girl is which. Add to it the fact that Juliette, their older sister, is very petite and essentially the same size (we’re often asked if they are triplets) and it’s a major challenge to distinguish the three pink coated girls from behind.
But there is no confusing their personalities.
Several months ago we realized that Celia had developed a habit of batting her eyelashes whenever she asked for something. “Mama, can I please have a cheese stick?” bat bat bat. “Mama, would you sing ‘Do a Deer?'” bat, bat bat. It became instinctive and, well, hilarious.
One night at dinner, when Celia asked for some salt on her green beans (bat, bat, bat) Zoë leveled her gaze across the dining room table and said, “Celia, what do you do when you want something?”
Celia smiled, lowered her chin, and batted her eyelashes at us rapidly.
“Juliette, what do you do when you want something?” Zoë asked.
Juliette raised an eyebrow, got out of her seat, walked around the table to my chair and began jabbing me in the arm with her index finger. “Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy,” she said. We all fell over laughing. So, so true.
“Well, Alice, what do YOU do when you want something?” Zoë asked.
Alice looked around at everyone shyly. Then she beamed her most sincere smile and said, “I wait.”
I burst into tears.
And there you have it. The most succinct description of my little girls’ personalities I could possibly render – straight from the mouths of babes.
Last night, while I was writing, Zoë came running into the library, nearly in tears, to deliver this story:
First, a little background.
- Alice, Celia, and Juliette all share a bedroom.
- Both Alice and Celia sleep with personalized ducks that they were given as baby gifts. They’ve decided that they look more like platypuses and so both have taken to calling them “Puckies”.
- Last year my husband directed a production of Annie. Zoë was gunning for the lead role but ended up as Pepper.
Ok, back to the story.
Anyway… Zoë is walking into her bedroom when she hears singing coming from behind her sisters’ door. The little girls have been in bed for almost an hour and we are all prepping to watch a big kid show downstairs, so Zoë decides to stick her head into the room and tell the offender to be quiet, go to sleep, and not ruin her evening. As Zoë’s eyes adjust she sees Alice sitting up in bed, holding her knees and rocking back and forth. She’s sniffling and crying softly and through her tears she’s singing, “Da sun ‘ell come up tomawoah. Betcha bottom dolla’ dat tomawoah, dell be sun…” Zoë creeps over to her bunk and asks her why she’s crying.
“I can’t find my Pucky,” Alice sobs.
“Well, why didn’t you call and ask for help?”
“I didn’t wanna wake up my sisters.”
Yup. Instead of risking waking her sleeping sisters, Alice sat in bed trying to console herself with thoughts of a brighter future. Just go ahead and stab me in the heart with a lollypop stick, kid.
And this, right here, is how children develop roles in their families that they carry for the rest of their lives. We don’t mean to do it. We aren’t trying to peg one child as one thing and another as something else. It’s just hard to look at that story (and the hundreds like it that happen every week) and not identify Alice as the sweet, sincere child, Celia as the charming, manipulative child, and Juliette as the fiery, determined child.
There are positives and negatives in the personalities of all of my children, indeed, in the personalities of everyone I know, myself included. But not once, since the moment I held both twins in my arms, have I ever thought that those girls were even close to identical.