Archive for October, 2011

Raising twins.  What an adventure this is.

When we unknowingly got into this,  in the first months of pregnancy I read all kinds of research about what it means to have twins.  There are quite a lot of interesting things that make twins special. For example, they can sometimes come up with their own language, they have been known read each other’s mind, they sometimes do the same thing at the same time, or they feel the pain of the other twin.  There are even stories of twins who were separated at birth who married women with the same name on the same day, work at the same type of job, have the same number of children and wore the same outfit when they finally did meet. That is all sweet and charming, but we haven’t seen anything of that sort.  The only “twin” thing our twins have is that people think they look alike.  The rest of the stuff is pretty much about who was born first, who gets to do this or that first, who got dressed the fastest, etc.  Pretty mundane stuff.  And then we had the white shoe incident.

Let me back up for a minute.  We are parents who put thought into the toys and clothes we buy for our boys.  We don’t want to dress them alike since they are two different people, so when we buy two of anything, they are always different. To be honest I don’t know how those parents of twins find the energy to organize a closet and drawers just so so that they can dress their kids the same. Anyway,  around two we noticed that somehow one of the two items became “the item” to have, and arguments, fighting, pulling and pushing would commence.  So then we tried to buy things of projected high interest in pairs of two.  Well that didn’t work either.  Either they wouldn’t give a toss about them, or they would find something minutely different about one of the items and then that toy/shirt/toothbrush/paper towel/raisin became the hot item. We quickly realized that the expression ” you are damned if you do, damned if you don’t” was probably coined by a parent of twins.

Back in the height of the Thomas the Train heyday, K. decided to buy two Thomas the Train tank engines, hoping this would keep the arguing and fighting to a minimum.  After all, Thomas was the beloved toy and having two toys that were exactly the same would prevent any fights.  Right? Right? Wrong. Somehow, the boys found some minuscule difference on the tank engines, a difference we never ever figured out, and then that Thomas with that difference became the hallowed toy.  I knew we were in over our heads in figuring the all this out when one night A. was in his new room (we separated them because each morning  their room looked like the Rolling Stones had partied there: another blog post) and at around 2 am he began to bellow, scaring the bejeezus out of me. He wanted his Thomas the Train engine.  In my sleepy stupor, I gave in and found the *#*#@ Thomas the Train after rifling through a pile of toys in the dark.  With relief I handed the boy the toy, instantly pacifying him.  Stumbling back to my room I heard a the rattling noise of tiny fingers hurriedly searching every inch of molded plastic wheels and windows. I could even picture it in my mind: the toy being turned to and fro in  little hands frantically searching for something, something on that toy.  Then the noise stopped and after a millisecond of impregnated silence, he howled, “it’s not my Thomas.”  I don’t even remember what happened next, I think my insanity sensors blocked it out, but I knew at that point I would never understand what qualities or criteria made things “cool” for my boys.

There are hundreds of other stories like this, but we have since learned coping skills to defuse the situations as they arise.  Well, that was until the white shoe incident that took place on a Monday’s gym day. It started Sunday morning with the question:

“Who is going to wear the white gym shoes tomorrow?”

“It is Ali’s turn”

“Oh, OK.”

Repeat 20 times with various answers like: “What did I say before? Why don’t you tell me? Didn’t we talk about this?”

The boys have two pairs of gym shoes, a grey pair and a (beloved) white pair.  As with Thomas the Train, we don’t know why the white pair are the cool pair.

Monday morning, the first conversation of the day was of course about the white gym shoes, only this time the emotions were amped up a bit because the P.E lesson was a mere few hours away.  Our morning rituals unraveled as Omer hassled the entire house into a cranky mood, playing every card, which included trying to convince me that the color palette of his gym uniform went  best with the white shoes, to trying to convince Ali that the grey shoes were cooler since they were bought in California. Defeated (or so I thought) Omer lay in silence on the floor  in the living room as the rest of us got ready for the day. As the boysleft the house, he was still grumbling about it but I sent them on their way with a smooch and a hug, the white shoes safely tucked away into Ali’s backpack. With a sigh of relief, I packed my own school bag.

And then I get this e-mail:

Hi Annie,

Ömer did not want to join the P.E. lesson this morning because he did not want to wear his grey sports shoes.  He was very upset, and crying that he wanted to wear the white sports shoes that were in Ali’s bag.  Ali said that it was his turn to wear the white shoes because Ömer wore them last week, but Ömer said that since he wore them last week it meant that he was supposed to have them every week.  


 Kreş Teachers

I had to laugh to myself at Omer’s stubborn, donkey-like nature, even though I was annoyed he was hassling his school with his white shoe obsession.  Thinking it was all said and done, I sent his wonderful, patient  teachers a thank you e-mail, promising I would talk to him later that evening.  About two hours later, I get this e-mail:

Hi Annie,

When we went to pick the kids up at the end of the P.E. lesson Ömer was participating, but we were surprised to see the white shoes on his feet.  We asked the kids what had happened, and they said that Ömer wore the grey ones for a few minutes and then started complaining that they hurt his feet, so then Ali surrendered the white ones and Ömer got his way and stopped whining.  (Didn’t this issue between the twins start way back in womb?)

We told Ömer that since he got to wear the white shoes for two weeks in a row, that it would only be fair if Ali got to wear them for the next two lessons.

Thanks for talking to them about this.

Kreş Teachers

So the passive laying-down-on-the-floor show in the morning was in fact a strategic-move planning session.  And it worked.

Last Monday morning we were stranded in an airport and missed the gym lesson, so we will see how it goes this upcoming Monday.

Wish us luck, I think we are going to need it for this and future endeavors.


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Istanbul by Morning

Living in a bustling city of 13.26 million with two kids can be challenging at times.  Getting stuck in traffic with squirrelly five-year-olds is no fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon, nor is dodging the sea of people that walk down each sidewalk of this magnificent city. Being a small town-rural girl, the city life really doesn’t do it for me.  Even when we lived in the super cool neighborhood of Arnavutkoy, a cozy place where we had everything at our fingertips, including a view of the Bosphorus,  I was more than happy to move onto the relatively quiet and green school campus, with a five minute commute by foot.

Fast forward six years, and I am still happy to be here on campus, where the boys can frolic and thrive in a rural-type setting. They play in the dirt, make mud soup, climb trees, ride bikes, roll around in the grass, collect pine nuts and wild flowers and know every neighbor by name. As the sun goes down, all it takes  is a whistle  and they come running from whichever activity they were involved in.  Hands dirty and hair sweaty, they wash up for dinner, we eat, then off on a family bike ride, then crash into bed.

The neat thing about where we live is that in 20 minutes or so, we can be in the city center with all kinds of things to do. This includes museums, art galleries, cool malls, parks, historical places, urban farmer’s markets, trendy bohemian neighborhoods and tasty restaurants. But it isn’t all glitter and gold .  Sharing the city with the aforementioned 13 million  people means that it gets very crowded, something we really don’t enjoy or prefer. One of the good things about the boys getting up so early (usually 6 am) is that we can be breakfasted, dressed and out the door by 8:00, which means we get the beautiful city of Istanbul mostly to ourselves. Our usual routine is breakfast somewhere, followed by an activity (most places open at 10:00 a.m.), then we head out of dodge by 12 or 1 o’clock and we are good as gold: no traffic on the way in and little traffic on the way out. This strategy has worked for 5 years and running.  For a person who loathes crowded cities, people often wonder how I can live in a big, overcrowded city like Istanbul.  Well, now you know.

This past Sunday was a perfect example of the beauty of this strategy.  Missing the great outdoors of North America, we decided to go for a hike at the Balli Kayalar (Honey Rocks) which can get overcrowded making it really hard to hop from rock to rock across the gurgling and bubbling canyon stream.  We were in by 10:00, had a lovely hike up the canyon with only frogs and fish to accompany us, topped it off with a drink by the small lake back down at the bottom and we were literally heading out just as the droves of picnickers and hikers were making their noisy way into the park. Perfect.

This weekend is a four-day weekend, and we will be snorkeling and swimming down on the shores of the Mediterranean and hiking to a spot where natural gas fed flames come out of rocks at our favorite getaway (nod to R and N), so the early Istanbul morning adventure will have to wait until next weekend. But be assured that come 8:00, the O family will be up and ready to enjoy the quiet sprawling splendor of Istanbul while the rest of the city sleeps.

A lovely fall Sunday

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