Bingo Square: Not My Wheelhouse (It’s part memoir, part sociology, part parenting guide.)
I likely never would have picked this up if I didn’t have identical twins. Now I’m a mother I do read parenting books to give me some idea of what the hell I am doing but I tend not to gravitate to the memoir side of things. I want hard facts: this is how you raise your kid so they’re not a sociopath, and not: this is my story but we’re all different so good luck! But I find myself navigating parenthood while also worrying about my kids’ sense of identity. What’s the right way to raise two people who look so alike? How do I make sure they feel like individuals? And how do you respond to those who treat them like a curiosity? It felt like I should find an expert to help me figure it out, and an identical twin is the best place to start.
Abigail Pogrebin is feeling distance from her identical twin, Robin. They have always been super close but in the last few years Robin has pulled away some, leading Abigail to want to explore more about the nature of identical twins. She also wanted to write a book that didn’t exist, one that closely examines what it’s really like to grow up as part of a matched pair. She speaks with many sets of twins – football stars and actors, those running a talent agency together, twins she went to school with, even attending the annual twins convention in Twinsburg, Ohio. She also talks to doctors and scientists, psychologists, behaviouralists, and others who have made the study of twins their life’s work. And through it all runs the ‘spine’ of her own story and relationship with Robin.
So what did it tell me? Mostly that my nightmare scenario of twins never living apart or having separate lives does exist. There are lonely twins going to that convention every year looking for a romantic partner, but another twin so they ‘get it’. The ‘it’ being the special relationship that exists between these siblings. But also that you can be incredibly close to your twin and live lovely, separate lives. Or not speak for years and find your way back to each other. There are the twins who have each lost a child and seen each other through it, the twins who survived Auschwitz, and those that have suffered the loss of their twin.
My main take aways are to keep doing what I’ve been doing, for the most part. I’m not dressing them the same (partly because doing so is crazy making for me. I can tell them apart easily but I don’t need to complicate my life that way), I try not to compare, to see them for who they are and never as ‘the twins’, and as they get older we will make sure to carve out one on one time with them, which is hard to do with toddlers but so important for all of us.
The book is incredibly moving at times and plain fascinating at others. It touches upon the role of genetics (and epigenetics) and how twins are still seen as nature’s great experiment for some doctors. There’s the role environment plays and the question of why some twins get certain diseases but their siblings don’t. There are a few sections that feel a bit dated/were less interesting to me but overall it’s a beautifully written book that I didn’t really want to put down.