Kari Ertresvåg is an identical triplet and brings a rare first-hand account of what it’s like to grow up as an identical multiple. It’s part memoir, part parenting guide as she weaves stories from her own childhood and adolescence with tips and tricks on fostering individuality and a sibling bond, in a world that treats multiples (especially identical ones) as a unit. She also references psychologists and research to help parents raise happy, independent kids.
It covers how multiple births occur, twin myths, why you shouldn’t dress them the same, how to help them make friends independently of one another, sharing classrooms at school, dealing with physical comparisons (she’s the pretty/smart one etc) and much more.
This book is almost what I’ve been looking for, in terms of a parenting guide for people with twins. I probably worry more than I should about my girls’ sense of individuality, but it’s definitely something that’s always in my mind. I found a lot of this really helpful, but it’s still not quite it. I think maybe because most of it was written before she was a parent, (she notes this herself in the intro) there are things that feel more skewed towards the multiples themselves, than helpful for raising them. It also felt at times like it fell into the trap a lot of parenting books fall into, telling you exactly what to do to have a specific outcome. Look, I want the guidebook as much as anyone. That one text that gives you all the pointers you need in order to not fuck up your kids. But it doesn’t, and can’t, exist. Because every kid is different, even within the same family, and what works for one doesn’t work for another. It’s frustrating as all hell but it’s the way it is.
I agree with a lot of what she says, but also find it hard in practice. I don’t want to dress my girls the same, but they do. The author says they shouldn’t have a say in it as it doesn’t help the world treat them as individuals and therefore can be harmful. I get it. But I have two two year olds who want to wear the same clothing a lot of the time and that is not a battle I am prepared to fight everyday. Maybe when they’re older. But I also think I have to respect their choices and we’ll deal with whatever fallout comes from it. Same with having different classes at school. Sure, maybe that is the best way, but for a working parent to deal with twice as much of everything (school work, class trips, friends), it might be asking a lot. I’m not there yet so I don’t know. But you can’t make sweeping statements without taking other things into account. Things have to work for everyone. The author does seem to lean on one particular twin expert that she agrees with quite a lot too. I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or not, but I intend to make use of the Further Reading to see if I find any of it helpful.
The book could also do with a good copyedit. I have the Kindle edition so don’t know if that makes any difference, or whether it was translated etc, but there are quite a lot of grammatical errors and times where the writing just isn’t as clear as it could be, so I had to re-read a bunch to work it out.
Overall the book is funny and does offer a lot of insight I wouldn’t have found elsewhere, and I will probably dip back into it as my girls get older, but it’s not everything I was hoping for. I think what I’m looking for is a book about raising identical twins written by an identical twin, you know, to cover all my bases. Can’t be too hard to find, surely? 🙂