There are certain things we do when raising children. Certain things that are, perhaps, counter-cultural so that our young men and young women, our kids in regular classes and with special needs, our kids of all make-ups and all colors can grow up as fully, wonderfully themselves. Strong and sensitive. Logical and creative. Responsible and wild. Just and merciful. Wise and loving. Leaders who serve others. And, depending on the child, we have to teach more or less of each lesson, don’t we? Balance their innate wisdom with their experiences and work together, in concert with them, to create deeper understanding of who they are. Of who they can be. Ultimately, we desire all our children to know that they don’t have to cherish some bits of themselves – the parts that our culture tells us are “acceptable” – and reject others.
And just like our kids of different genders and different ethnicities and differently functioning brains have their own unique needs, so do our kids who are multiples. Ah, an added layer of complexity for twins!
We’ve told our twins that they needn’t be alike in their goals and dreams. In their dress. In their preferences. In their favorite colors. In the ways they express themselves. And we’ve tried diligently to shy away from the twin stereotypes.
To be counter-cultural.
To tell them, always, that we love them for who they each are and for the amazing potential of who they each will be.
But people like to have their boxes and they like to put other people in them.
So I wasn’t surprised – but I wasn’t thrilled – when my 1st graders came home from school one day last fall, mid-argument, and wanted me to referee by telling them which was the evil one.
Neither, I assured them. Neither was the evil twin, no matter what the kid on the playground said about one being good and one being evil. BOTH GOOD, I said. You both get to be the good one, and you don’t have to choose or ever — EVER, I said — to live into someone else’s expectations for you. Follow your hearts, instead, I said. You know who you are, I said. Even now. Even as 7-year-olds. You KNOW who you are.
And my wise young men stopped arguing. Instantly. They looked at each other and nodded, and they came to an agreement silently, the way twins sometimes do.
As I smiled and turned away, I heard them stage whisper simultaneously, “Both evil! We can BOTH be evil!”
And then, I kid you not, they cackled.
Please join me in rolling your eyes with me and saying a few Hail, Marys on our behalf. Also, you may pray that we will reconsider this whole “embrace all of who you are” parenting strategy. Probably your prayers won’t work, but we’ll all feel better that you said them.
Today is the first day of Lent, and so I cleaned out under my desk as part of our brand new 40 Days of Lent: 15 Minute Projects plan.
In addition to unearthing Abraham Lincoln log cabin art projects from February (of 2013), 12 M&M’s, and 26 pens, I uncovered 5 Evil Twin stories written by my son after he decided he could share the evil title with his brother.
And so, in celebration of a clutter-free place to put my feet, I present to you The Evil Twins, in their original language and, in orange, translated into English for those of you who don’t speak Small Child Learning How to Write.
The Evle Twens
written and illustrated by Cai Woolsey
BOOK 1: Evle twens go to an ilend that is dsrdid
BOOK 1: Evil Twins Go to an Island That Is Deserted
The evle twens wr going to an ilend but that was wat eve buddey else thot. They wr reley going to git a lost treshr that was lost for evr. There was sumreams wr surowding it. They dshoway the sumreams and got the tresur.
The evil twins were going to an island but that was what everybody else thought. They were really going to get a lost treasure that was lost forever! There was submarines were surrounding it. They destroyed the submarines and got the treasure.
BOOK 2: Evl twens ned a evle lar
BOOK 2: Evil Twins Need an Evil Lair
The evle twens ned an evle lar. They fad an old liat house. They mad theselvs a home.
The evil twins need an evil lair. They found an old lighthouse. They made themselves a home.
BOOK 3: The evle twens ned wepens
BOOK 3: The Evil Twins Need Weapons
The evle twens ned wepens. At nihte, the evle twens robd a gun stor. No buty came. They wr all stel sleping. The evle twens got awae.
The evil twins need weapons. At night, the evil twins robbed a gun store. Nobody came. They were all still sleeping. The evil twins got away.
BOOK 4: The evll twens made an invenchen
BOOK 4: The Evil Twins Made an Invention
The evle twens made an invenchen. They made a mostr. It was nise. They ran wae aand the monstr followed them.
The evil twins made an invention. They made a monster. It was nice. They ran away and the monster followed them.
BOOK 5: The evle twens pet fawnd a meedeer
BOOK 5: The Evil Twins’ Pet Found a Meteor
The evle twens pet fownd a meedeer. The pet it came home. The pet got the twens and the twens fall ode the pet. The evle twens pet did.
The evil twins’ pet found a meteor. The pet came home. The pet got the twins and the twins followed the pet. The evil twins’ pet died.
Today’s 40 Days of Lent: 15 Minute Project is a desk or a table. On top. Underneath. Whatever you think it needs most. Set your timer for 15 minutes and quit when the timer beeps. Or don’t. No one’s watching; do whatever will make you feel like you can do this again tomorrow. After all, there’s no sense getting overwhelmed the first day.
That said, cleaning under my desk was TERRIBLE. I know; this isn’t how the story’s supposed to go. I’m supposed to write that it was fine and once I got into it, it practically cleaned itself. But there was a reason I was avoiding it, and that reason was cute cards from kids and adorable stories and piles and piles of dust and something unidentifiable and sticky. So I had to make DECISIONS about what to do with it all, and I had to throw away some of the adorableness because if I keep it all, I’ll be a hoarder and child protective services will remove my children from their dangerous home. And pffft.
However, it was worth it. Terrible, but worth it.
Here’s the Before:
And here’s the After:
If you did a 15 Minute Project today, remember send your Before and After pictures to me at FiveKidsIsALotOfKids@gmail.com along with your website link; I’ll pick one to feature with each 40 Days of Lent: 15 Minute Projects post.
P.S. If you’re looking for a great site for nontoxic cleaning tips (other than my nontoxic tip, Don’t Clean, which does end up being sort of toxic in the long run) and other gorgeous household ideas, I highly recommend Beth Ricci at Red and Honey. Beth is warm, personable and all-around lovely. I mean, I’ve never met her, but I’m willing to bet I’m right.
P.P.S. Neither Beth Ricci nor Red and Honey are affiliated with this site. I received no compensation, blah blah blah, for blah blah blah. Disclaimer, disclaimer, etc. Beth doesn’t know I’m writing this, so I can totally tell you to buy her Breakfast Revolution book without repercussions or the Affiliates Police coming after me. (Seriously. What even happens with this kind of stuff? I have NO IDEA.) Better yet, buy Beth Breakfast Revolution book and then use it to make me breakfast. Yum!
If you did a 15 Minute Project today, let me know in the comments below so I can tell you Good Job! Encouragement’s the only path through this mess; I’m just sure of it.