Of course, I love all of my grandchildren equally. And when it comes to doling out cookies and making pierogies and picking out new books at the local indie bookstore, the kids each has her/his own fair share.
The lesson my twin granddaughters are now learning is that even though they are twins, not everything in their little world is distributed in equal measure.
Because of the dynamic between the two girls, my daughter and son-in-law chose to put the girls in separate classrooms for kindergarten this year. It has proven to be a good choice. Molly has learned to stand on her own instead of relying on Harper, and Harper has learned that she does not have to jump in quickly to pick up Molly’s slack.
For the first time in their young lives, each girl has friends of her own in addition to the friends they’ve been sharing before they started attending school.
This has been the year when one girl would receive a birthday party invitation that the other one did not. That was a little tough at first, but their parents are guiding the girls through the workings of the world.
Over the past school year, each girl has been recognized in some manner by their teachers and the school’s recognition programs. They don’t always receive recognition for the same things at the same times, since each teacher has her own criteria for “attagirls”, but overall, it has worked out to be basically equal.
But the school year is winding down, and the school is planning a final large assembly with year-end awards.
My daughter received a letter in the mail two weeks ago telling her that Molly would be one of those honored at the assembly. Harper waited patiently at first for her to letter arrive but her anxiety went up, and up, and up as days went by and no letter came for her. Mommy and Daddy had to explain to Harper that each teacher makes her own choices, and just because her teacher didn’t give her an award, it didn’t mean that Harper didn’t have a good year at school and she is truly a good person.
Earlier this week, I saw a page on Facebook from a woman who makes custom, hand-sewn dresses and other outfits for little girls. She likes to name her dresses, and I saw one that she called Harper.
You can imagine, I’m sure, that of all the items you can find that are personalized with names—jewelry, mugs, magnets, picture frames, etc.—you will just about never see anything with Harper on it. So when I saw this dress, I immediately ordered one.
My first instinct was to present it to Harper as consolation for not winning a year-end award in school. But it didn’t take me very long to realize, that I wouldn’t be doing her any favors by doing that. She needs to work through her disappointment and not come to expect that there will always be someone or something to make up for something that comes her sister’s way but not hers. I’ll wait a little while to give her the dress, and present it to her as just something cute that carries her name.
Which then, of course, leads me to the fact that Molly, who loves pretty dresses as much as Harper does, will be sad and disappointed that Mimi did not get her a dress. And so the lesson will continue. I will explain to her about the name of the dress being the same as her sissy’s, and that as soon as I find a dress or some other outfit that is named Molly, I will get it for her.
It may seem silly for me to have such angst over dresses and awards, but I believe the point behind those things is an important one for the girls to learn. They’re just little girls now, and these “silly” things are big to them. As they grow, there will be more and more ways that the world will not treat them equally even though they are twins. Learning to manage their emotions and being genuinely happy for each other when inequality inevitably finds them will stand them well as they become adults.
Congratulations, Molly, on your award! Mimi and Pap are very proud of you. And Harper, I hope you will like your namesake dress when I bring it down to you next month.