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Three’s…Company…?

by The Next Family March 10, 2011

By: Shannon Ralph

Conflicts of three children

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I always thought having twins would be a wonderfully exciting adventure. Even before seeing their two little heartbeats on the monitor, I somehow “knew” that I would have twins. Prior to getting pregnant, I had this inexplicable feeling that I would end up with two babies. Of course, I didn’t share this knowledge with Ruanita, as I am guessing that would not have gone over well. I, however, thought twins would be a complete and absolute joy.  In many ways, they have been a joy.  Aside from the mind-numbing sleep deprivation, double diaper duty, the outrageously expensive preemie formula, and the fun of hearing toddler tantrums in stereo, they have been great. I cannot imagine my life without either of them. I wouldn’t want to live in a world without Nicky’s sweet peculiar little quirks or Sophie’s sass and attitude.

One thing I did not bargain for, however, is what I call the “third child phenomenon”. Prior to Sophie and Nicholas coming along, I was always told that twins are wonderful because they have a built-in playmate for life. I imagine that would be true if a person only had twins. I have a third child, however, which totally destroys any and all chance of harmonious play. A third child introduces conflict to the utopian twin camaraderie. Two children play wonderfully together. Three children do not. Children naturally pair up. And one child always gets left out.

In my house, the left out child is often Nicholas, but it does rotate occasionally. Though I hate to see little Nicky being left out, he can usually entertain himself by coloring or doing puzzles. He excels at independent play. However, I cringe at the thought of Lucas or Sophie being the left-out-child. Those are the days that could lead an otherwise well-adjusted woman to take up the crack pipe.

Lucas and Sophie seem to be incapable of independent play. Rather than finding things to entertain themselves, they usually end up begging me to play with them. Sophie, in particular, is offended to her very core when she is left out of the boys’ games. She will follow me from room to room, loudly lamenting the utter unfairness of the situation. She will attach herself to my hip with a super-glue-like bond. There is no shaking her. I swear that she is trying to reinsert herself into the orifice from whence she came. That portal is closed for business, girlie!

I’ve tried getting involved by forcing the other children to play with the “reject” child. This just causes additional tension and turmoil. The reject child then becomes the target of his or her siblings’ anger at mommy for intruding on their game. It is better to let them work it out themselves. Unfortunately, nine times out of ten, I end up having to play with the excluded child. Oh, how I hate playing Lego Bionicles! And princess tea parties are only moderately more bearable.

For those of you still in the midst of creating your families, I have a bit of advice: Have your children in even numbers. Odd numbers only create conflict. And absolutely avoid prime numbers at all costs. I think the only way to resolve my own dilemma –the only option for avoiding a lifetime of shuddersome princess tea parties –is to have a fourth child. You know, to even up the teams a bit. Ruanita, however, is strangely opposed to having a fourth child for this sole purpose. As a matter of fact, any time I have even hinted at a maternal longing for a fourth child, she has responded with a firm and resounding “Hell no!” Considering that she wanted one child, reluctantly agreed to two, and ended up with three, I can see where she is coming from. So I am left with three bickering babes. Three combative cubs.

Two’s company. Three’s definitely a crowd.

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