Growing up with identical twin sisters and then having identical twin daughters myself, I would share in their frustrations when friends and family continued to not understand the difference between them. So I was very excited to hear from Maran Robinson who recently has written a new ebook on this topic from her daughters perspective. My Name is Ellie: A Children’s Picture book about Twins is available now for $3.50 on Amazon. Here is an honest, heart-felt story inspired from the words of a four year old named “Ellie” and learn about the mixed blessing it can be when you are an identical twin…
Here is a short interview with Meran Robinson:
How did you find out your were having Twins?
After 10 years, my husband and I had decided that if children weren’t going to happen for us, that would be ok. After all – how could we miss something we’d never had? Anticipating being DINKS (Double income no kids) for the rest of our working lives, we increased our mortgage and planned some serious landscaping to compliment the house we’d just built. Then I got sick. REALLY, really sick. To find out I was pregnant was a shock. To find out 6 weeks later that we were having twins – well let’s just say it is true it’s a really good thing you are already lying down when you are told. I cried with joy and relief that our “baby” was ok. My husband whooped in excitement. So loudly in fact, that we received many congratulations from couples in the waiting room – they’d been able to hear his exclamations through the walls! After much sickness and hospitalization, I finally moved to what I considered “normal” morning sickness only to develop gestational diabetes and threatening premature labour at week 29. Confined to best rest and medication at home, we made it another three weeks. My identical daughter’s Jordan and Danielle (Ellie) were born 7 weeks early. Though at times scary and challenging, they bought our lives so much joy, we decided to have another daughter three years later.
Why did you decide to write this eBook?
It started when my then 4 year old daughter came home in near-tears from Kindergarten because her friends and even her teacher had repeatedly mistaken her for her sister. So to address the “identity mix-up” problem, I asked both my daughters how we could help their friends tell “who was who”. From that very heart-felt and honest conversation, this eBook was born!
Ellie’s comments: I asked my Mum to write it to tell our friends that calling us “Twin” doesn’t make us very happy. I love Jordan, but I am definitely ME.
How do you think the eBook will help?
The eBook captures from a child’s perspective what makes each daughter unique. It carries the simple theme that twins are wonderful, and that their twin-ness should be celebrated. At the same time it shows they are also individuals with feelings that can be hurt when people don’t take the time or effort to get to know them.
Ellie’s Comments: I think it will make people say, “Oh – I didn’t know that. I should get to know them better so I don’t make them sad by calling them the wrong name.”
What has been your biggest accomplishment these past 12 months?
Publishing this book! It was a very personal project for me on so many levels. The girls had been in separate classes at Primary school for the first two years. Now they are in the same class, the problem of “identity mix-up” presented itself again. The girls reminded me of the story I’d written for them in Kindergarten. They asked to see it again because they wanted to help others know that whilst being a twin is fascinating when you are not a twin yourself, twins are also individuals, with very real feelings.
Researching this idea more thoroughly, I found that my daughters were not alone, and that being called “Twin” or the wrong name is extremely annoying. In younger twins who are working as hard as their peers to make and retain new friendships, it can pose an additional problem. Many twins feel hurt, thinking that their peers, family friends or care-givers aren’t taking the time to get to know them as separate people – whether this is true or not.
Younger children (and some adults!) may not mean any harm, but also don’t think about the impact of such phrases like “Hi Twin” or the frustrating name-combining “Jordanellie, want to play?”. These examples can actually make an identical twin feel quite invisible as an individual.
Fortunately, Ellie and Jordan now know themselves and each other very well. By taking the time to listen and take seriously their feelings back in Kindergarten, “My Name is Ellie” helped give them the words and tools to navigate this problem with their friends on their own. Our wish is to help other twins do the same.
Ellie’s Comments: I started grade three this year and also Karate! It is great being in the same class as my sister. I love her. But it would be nice if my friends asked to sit next to me, not “The Twins”.
What is your best advice for a new parent of multiples?
Don’t be afraid to accept or ask for help. You will certainly find out which offers were genuine or not, and it is very important to build up a support network. For those who don’t have family support close by, connect with multiple birth clubs, and other parents with twins, retired neighbours or even church groups for assistance. Mostly – be kind to yourself, do what is best for your family. Also – don’t compare what you are doing to advice given in parenting books that are aimed at raising babies born singularly. Unless you want to end up in a mess in the corner… That may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised!
What question or questions do you have for the families in the community?
I’d love to hear from others with identical twins and find out how they’ve dealt with the ‘who is who” question. Has your twin’s story been similar to Ellie’s and Jordan’s?
How about those with school aged twins – how do you decide to separate or not, especially if one wants together, and the other does not?
To celebrate the eBook’s launch, until 30th May 2015, I am also giving away a free Twin Fact and Activity guide for preschool aged children. It is a great companion to “My Name Is Ellie” and a conversation starter to help give some answers for some commonly asked questions written in a child-friendly way. It also includes some fun activities to complete at the end. I am more than happy for twin families to share this with their friends!