When I first found out I was having twins, I dreamed about the friendship they’d have. There seems to exist among twins this mystical thing we singletons can only halfway comprehend called a “twin bond,” and I eagerly anticipated watching this bond form between my own twins. My imagination ran wild with all kinds of daydreams about how my twins would finish each other’s sentences, would even know what the other one was thinking before either of them had said a word, and would have an indescribable bond that only a privileged few in this world get to experience.
Then they were born. I tried to encourage the bond that I knew must already exist invisibly somewhere between them. Unfortunately, they did not seem to appreciate my interference. I tried to lay them together in the same bassinet and my girl twin screamed every time her twin brother touched her. I tried taking heartwarming pictures of them with their arms around each other and they tried to nurse each other’s faces. Then the biting phase began. And the fighting over toys. Even if they each had one of the exact same toy.
Needless to say, my twins did not immediately manifest my dream of the perfect picture of sibling love and affection. In fact, they seemed to perpetually hover over the line between “Give me some space!” and “I can’t live without you.” But while their relationship has not always sounded like angelic choirs singing, and I am still disappointed that I haven’t witnessed the first sign of telepathy, I have learned some very real lessons on the nature of friendship from them.
1. Friends don’t judge each other.
The other night my twins came hopping into the kitchen with grocery bags around their feet. I watched them hop away laughing and thought to myself something I’ve thought many times before about those precious little people that I love so much, “They are so weird.” But the thing is, to them, it was not weird, because they were both doing it. I’ve never seen one of them look at the other and say, “I’m not playing that game, it’s weird.” They always jump right in, laughing, along with what the other is doing (this can be a good thing and a not-so-good thing.) My twins’ friendship is special because they don’t take the time to judge each other; they accept each other just as they are.
2. Friends stick together through it all.
Not too long ago my twins were in the lovely potty training phase. As not so fun as that was, there were some really sweet moments. Like the way they would sit on their potties, side by side, and hold hands. They never said to the other, “Eww, you stink.” Instead, they cheered each other on, marveled at each other’s accomplishments, and said, “Wow! Good job!” Friends don’t run away when things get rough (or smelly). And while I’m not necessarily suggesting we cheer our friends on when they are in the restroom, there is much to be said for a friend who is willing to walk through the not so pretty times by your side.
3. Friends work together.
Listen, my twins are professional campaigners. And their strategy is amazingly effective. It goes like this: one twin pitches a fit until he is exhausted, then they tag team and the other twin picks up where the first left off. What one twin needs, the other needs, and they are determined to work together to get that need met for them both. Friends make the needs of each other important and work together to make sure they’re met. However, tag team fit-pitching may not be an ideal tactic for friends of the adult variety.
4. Friends share common interests.
Along the lines of working together, my twins share common interests. What I mean by that is if one twin wants something, the other does too. This doesn’t always work so well when there is only one of the desired item. But sharing common interests in friendship, when possible, can help deepen a friendship and build camaraderie.
5. Friends understand each other.
When my twins were younger, they had a way of “calling” each other. We called them the velociraptors because their “call” was more like a shriek that sounded like something you’d hear in Jurassic Park. But the thing is, they understood each other. Even before they had real words they could speak, they found a way to communicate, and when one heard the “call,” he’d drop everything and go running to find the other. Friends take the time to listen to and understand each other.
6. Friends don’t hold grudges.
My twins have hurt each other. They have refused to share a beloved toy, have fought over the last fruit snack, and have literally left bite marks on each other. And yet not once have I seen them hold a grudge. In fact, usually within a few minutes they have forgotten the offense and are back to hopping around with bags on their feet. Their ability to forgive each other amazes me. Friends will hurt and disappoint you; it is inevitable in any long-lasting relationship. But remembering the example of my little twins’ friendship, I find I have no excuse, really, to hold onto a grudge. I mean, none of my adult friends have left bite marks on me, so I really shouldn’t complain.
7. Friends are loyal.
My twins would rather get in trouble than be disloyal to each other. This includes situations where an innocent twin decides to join the guilty party so his twin doesn’t have to get in trouble alone. And while I don’t encourage forming a crime ring, there is something to be said for a friend so loyal, she will stick her neck out on the line for you.
At the end of the day, when my twins reach for each other for comfort when one is sad, or when I see one ask the other if he’s ok when he falls down and scrapes his knee, I am inspired by the way they love each other. It seems that ending their friendship, to them, is not an option. And so they accept each other, bite marks and all, as the friend that life has chosen to bless them with. And they share a bond that, to me, really is a marvel.
Natalie Downey is a stay at home mom to six rambunctious but lovable kids. Her two-year-old boy/girl twins were the surprise of her life and keep her on her toes. She gets by with lots of help from coffee and yoga and enjoys literature, spontaneous dance parties with her kids, and playing guitar.