Since I wrote that post, a couple of incidents have shown me that while they might not know how different their situation is, Addison & Mackenzie are definitely developing an understanding of their relationship to one another.
The first incident occurred sometime over the summer. The girls each had a sucker and Mackenzie's got stuck in her hair. After working to untangle it with minimal damage, I told M we would have to throw her sucker away, since it was now covered in strands of hair. Naturally, that didn't go over too well and she burst into tears. I felt bad that she was so upset, but it was a learning experience about being careful with candy.
At some point in her crying, Mackenzie began urging me to throw Addison's sucker away as well. I explained that no, I wouldn't throw Addison's sucker away because she didn't have hair on hers, since she was handling it the right way. After a few minutes of this conversation, Mackenzie exclaimed, "But we do the same things!!!" She began repeating it over and over: But we're the same! We do the same things!
As astonished as I was at the direction that incident took, I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for my girl. Mackenzie is so accustomed to being treated the exact same way as her sister that she couldn't believe Addison could continue eating her sucker when she no longer had one.
I just don't know exactly how to feel about that situation. Proud that my girls are treated so equally that it's such a travesty when they don't get to do the exact same thing? Glad that they have no concept of preferential treatment? Or maybe a little sad that they see themselves as such a single unit that M really couldn't understand why I wouldn't make A throw her sucker away as well? I've done a lot of thinking about the concept of individuality for my girls, and it seems I have a lot more to think about in this area!
Another incident occurred on the way home from Mobile this past weekend. When we stopped at a favorite shop in south Alabama, my mom let each of the girls pick out a toy. They both chose small plush dogs that came stuffed inside a little carrying purse. They each grabbed one quickly--Addison had a white dog and Mackenzie a brown one. I pointed out several other options, including a precious monkey-in-a-purse, but all were quickly dismissed.
Everything was great for a couple of hours after we resumed the drive home. We removed the tags from the toys (though the saleslady couldn't believe we wanted the tags cut off...she was worried about preserving the authenticity...of the TOY my children couldn't wait to PLAY with. I guess they're like beanie babies and lose their "value" once the tag is removed??) and the girls both fell asleep holding their new friends.
Sometime after they woke up, Mackenzie decided she wanted to see Addison's dog. Addison did not want to give hers up, even for a temporary swap, so we told Mackenzie she would have to settle for playing with her dog for the time being. After some fussing, Mackenzie began insisting that they toys belonged to both her and Addison--"We share these doggies, right sissy?". Jeremy, mom, and I reminded her again and again that they had each chosen the toy they wanted and Addison did not have to share hers if she didn't want to, nor did she (Mackenzie) have to share with Addison.
Now, we have more toys than we know what to do with and there is virtually no sense of individual ownership between the girls. It's not usually a big deal, since A & M switch between toys at the speed of light anyway, and more often than not, they are playing together happily. There are a couple of items--a bear, a stuffed cat--that pretty much "belong" to one or the other of the girls, but for the most part, everything is joint property. Still, it was kind of funny to hear M keep insisting that "these are both ours, right?", just waiting for someone to agree with her. (We didn't.)
I had been thinking of ways that I might begin to give them some sense of ownership over certain items, maybe begin to encourage their different interests a bit, and yeah, the fuss over the sharing of the dogs reinforced that plan. At the very least, I want to pick out a small gift for each girl at Christmas that will belong solely to her. Not just a duplicate or slight variation of the same item, but a gift that has meaning for each of them, something that reflects an individual interest. Now, just to figure out what those gifts might be...
How much do your children share? Do they have possessions of their own, or is it a free-for-all? How do you encourage their different interests?