Sibling Rivalry, Sibling Revelry, Part 1

The above photo shows a rare loving moment shared between these three girls.  Not that love between them is rare, or that it’s rare to witness.  It’s just that the three of them all together, happy and calm, at a moment I happen to have my camera… that’s pretty rare.  Sibling dynamics are really interesting, and watching all three of these girls grow in relation to each other, react to each other, co-exist, compete, and care for each other, it’s really something cool to watch.  Not always easy to watch, or fun, but always worth watching.  And never boring.

Over the past 8 years, watching S and D’s relationship with each other become what it is today has been fascinating.  At times, frustrating.  Often entertaining.  Almost always intense.  Sometimes, heartwarming and touching and inspiring.  It’s brought us to tears of joy and of irritation, and it’s made us want to bang our heads into things.  Our perspective, as parents, is unique in that we get to see so much of what goes on between them and are so very invested in their social development and in our family harmony.  It’s also limited, in that we – no one, really – can ever exist inside that relationship of theirs, with all its intensity and love and hate, with its everydayness and constancy, its togetherness and monotony.  That’s something that’s just theirs.  It’s mysterious in that way.    But we get these glimpses into it.

Example:  Kane the other day, in trying to help the girls solve a conflict, suggested they try roh sham boh to decide things they couldn’t otherwise agree upon.  “No!” says Shaelyn.  “That’s no fair!  She always wins!”  Kane kind of laughed and shook his head, and then tried to explain that it was a game of chance, and that that wasn’t possible.  Davia said, “No, she’s right, I always win.”  Kane then had them play several rounds of the game for him, over and over, until finally he was convinced that, in fact, Davia does win that game (against Shaelyn) 4 out 5 times, on average.  We don’t know why that happens.  We can speculate, but it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that that is one tiny piece of a vast and complicated sibling dynamic between two very intense and vibrant little girls, living their lives as identical twins.


Davia, taken by Shaelyn with her new camera


Shaelyn, taken by Davia with her new camera

Ever watched identical twins argue about who looks better in a particular article of clothing?  Or try to insult one another by calling each other “ugly”?  It’s funny, of course, because they are in fact identical twins.  Most people who don’t see them regularly or know them very well have a hard time telling them apart.  But to them, those arguments and those insults make sense and are appropriate and meaningful.  I think that’s kind of a good metaphor for many of the other aspects of their relationship that don’t totally make sense when viewed from the outside.  To each of them, not only is the question of who looks better in that red shirt meaningful – it’s essential.  Whether by social pressure, parental shortcomings, nature or nurture or just the reality of How Things Are, theirs is a life of constant comparison.  Of neurotic and subconscious attention to detail, and of identities characterized primarily by subtle distinctions.  Distinctions that, to them, make a world of difference.  Their relationship is so unique and unlike any relationship I’ve ever witnessed.  There’s no doubt in my mind that it will continue to be both a source of joy and comfort, and also one of challenge, for those girls for as long as they both shall live.

That video obviously doesn’t show the girls (or our house) in the best light, but I think it helps illustrate what I’m talking about.  And though I wish I could say it was an unfair portrayal, it’s pretty typical.  I wish I also had a video showing the sweetness and mutual adoration these girls share.  They’re really very loving and protective of each other.  (When they’re not trying to kill each other.)

An example, on that (closing) note:  The other day, as I mentioned in a previous post, Shaelyn was terribly sick with that awful stomach thing that hit our house.  It was morning time, and both girls were to stay home from school that day.  Davia was on her way to recovery, but needed a little more time before going back to school.  Anyway, I was trying to help Shaelyn figure out where she wanted to be stationed for the morning, while I did my busy work around the house.  She, being very ill, needed a spot with a bowl and towels and a cup of water and pillows and all that.  I said, “If you want to watch TV, I’ll set you up downstairs on the couch, but if you want my company, I can set you up up here while I do my chores.”  Shaelyn didn’t really answer, but Davia chimed in lovingly to say, “Shaelyn, if you want me to be there, where ever you are, that’s where I will be.”  I think I cried a little when she said that.

So then, eight long years into the Shaelyn and Davia story, a new dimension is added to their sibling dynamic, in the form of a new baby sister.  Eila.

To be continued…



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Elizabeth
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 20:03:39

    this is my favorite post to date. your perspective is beautiful and of course i love hearing about the girls. lauren and i aren’t identical twins of course but i remember loving (still love) that many flaws or complaints i had about my appearance she could totally relate to. i wonder if the shaelyn and davia will feel the same way. miss you xoxo


  2. kane
    Feb 22, 2012 @ 20:10:32

    I agree with Elizabeth! This made my eyes wet at work.


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