Sharing is Crying

“No, Buddy, I just told you, your sister is reading that,” I said, prying the coveted Elmo’s ABC Book from his hand, prompting an eloquent baby cuss reply.

Sighing heavily, I returned the pillaged book to my daughter, who kicked jubilantly, as the plot was really heating up around “Q is for quilt” and she was on the edge of her seat on the playroom floor, just dying to see what letter was next.

Elmo's ABC Book

It's not just a great read--it also tastes delicious.

I turned back to my thieving son. “Buddy, you have five books already. Why don’t we read one of those?”

My son approaches playtime the same way I envision Napoleon Bonaparte would at one year old. Whenever he’s decided what to play with, he desperately needs that toy genre’s entire collection. If it’s blocks, they all simply must encircle him. If it’s books, he needs a shelf-full at his disposal. I’m quite certain that if he were aware of Pokemon, he would not rest until adequately “catching ’em all.”

Thus, if the parent-on-duty does not facilitate total toy acquisition, we can expect a fiery rage turning his skin green and inflating his muscles to three times their normal size, ironically tearing his Incredible Hulk t-shirt to shreds.

According to my parents, I had the exact same playtime disposition at his age, so with that in mind it seems I have been bitten by a Karma Chameleon. However, as the eldest child in my family (and rightful heir to my father’s throne), all toys in the immediate vicinity could feasibly be mine because at that point I was an only child. The added challenge with my son is that he has a twin sister who wants these toys just as much.

Culture Club - Karma Chameleon

The chameleon kind of looked like this.

However, because she isn’t the toy imperialist that her brother is and has a more passive personality, my daughter often falls victim to my son’s hoarding habit. He sees what he wants and takes it, leaving her despondently flailing her empty hands and calling upon my wife and me for justice. Of course, we’re happy to oblige, but we’d like her to defend herself more–to not always play the victim. If she shows her brother she’s mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, you bet your sweet little Goldfish crackers he’ll think twice before channeling his inner klepto. I will say that on a few occasions we’ve caught her shoving him back and reclaiming her stolen property, but these moments are few and far between.

. . .

I attempted to engage my son in Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?, the literary classic already in his pile, but not a single Dr.-Seuss-penned onomatopoeia could dissuade him from that unsettling feeling that his sister still had Elmo’s ABC Book. And he didn’t.

There she was, just sitting there, finding out what starts with “R.” How was that okay? Why was Daddy allowing this injustice?

In fact, he reasoned, he was infinitely better at finding out what starts with “R” than she would ever be. She was just embarrassing herself over there.

And poor Elmo! What about Elmo, one of the great monstertainers of our time, having to settle for a less-than-optimal audience?

No. This just couldn’t happen.

She was a sitting duck. All he had to do was reach out and grab it.

Don’t worry, Elmo! I’m coming!

His tiny fingers shot for the book, but at the last possible moment my daughter turned away, throwing her back at him.

“Nice block, Baby Girl!” I cheered. She shot me a knowing smirk as she babbled happily, flipping cardboard pages and “Oooh-ing” intently at the pictures.

My son was shaken, but not defeated. Having honed his craft for months, he knew he had to keep his cool. If he let her get in his head, he’d get stupid and reckless and blow the whole operation.

No, he thought, steadying himself. Do it for Elmo.

He army-crept around her, positioning himself just within reach, and glanced in my direction.

“No,” I persisted.

His face flashed from inquisitive to a squinty, baby-toothed sneer–an expression I’ve come to understand as “Whatever, Dad”–and then…he struck.

But my daughter was ready.

And she was pissed.

He grappled thin air as she yanked the book away, closed it, took it in one hand as if to say, “You want the book? HERE! Here’s the book!” and clocked him square on the forehead.

There are times as a parent when you know you need to be a disciplinarian, to force an ice-cold demeanor, even in the face of hilarity.

My daughter did, in fact, violate society’s time-honored courtesy of not bludgeoning one another with reading material, and for the record, my disciplinary neurons were activated.

However, these impulses were overruled by my ROFL and LMAO (rolling over f*cking Legos and letting my amusement out) reflexes. Once I’d finally stopped laughing and wiped the tears from my eyes, the window for meaningful correction was long gone.

Catching my breath, I noticed my son was no longer interested in Elmo’s ABC Book and had moved on to bigger, better things–stacking cups.

And as he began to gather every last one, my daughter crawled over and took one for herself.


You may also enjoy:

Overheard in a Suburban Phoenix Neighborhood   The Quest for Redemption   Did It

If not, I’m going to whack you in the forehead with this blog.


  1. jean

    Is your son the older of the two? I’ve noticed with my twins that the older one is usually more outgoing and, yes, aggressive with their twin. I have two sets, both b/g, in the 1st set my dd is older and she definitely pushes her brother around (they’re 14). The 2nd set are 9 and my son is older and he tends to be much more aggressive in getting what he wants,though his sister will put up more of a fight. In any case, love reading your blog, it brings back memories of when mine were small!


    • John Pseudonymous

      Okay, now, just hold on a minute. Before I answer your question, I have to acknowledge the twin elephants in the room.

      Did I hear that correctly? You have TWO sets of twins?

      And you’re still able to write coherent thoughts?

      By Jove, there IS hope for me.

      Loyal Readers, give this upstanding citizen a round of applause.

      Wow. Two sets. You’re a viking.

      All right–what were we talking about?

      Oh yeah, birth order.

      It’s actually the opposite with my kids. My daughter is the older one. My son was so kind as to adhere to the “Ladies first” axiom when coming into this world, so he definitely has that going for him.

      Interesting that you’ve seen that trend in yours. I’m wondering if it’s just a dynamic that comes up with twins in general–maybe one twin emerges as more domineering and the other takes a more passive role? Maybe gender has something to do with it?

      Thanks so much for your kind words, and for reading. Thrilled to hear you’re enjoying the blog.


  2. Chunky Mama

    I’m not sure how to respond to this post without writing a novel about just how alike our twinsies seem to be. So, to limit myself, I am just going to say that this is perhaps the very best post I’ve seen from you so far. I really, really enjoyed this one and actually cheered, “Hooray!” when she whacked him. :)
    Well done!!


    • John Pseudonymous

      Haha, seems we have a lot in common every time we talk, eh?

      Best post so far? That’s high praise coming from you. Thanks so much!

      Glad you were rooting for my daughter. I tried not to completely villainize my son. He’s a good kid and means well–he just needs to learn to share and she needs to stick up for herself.

      And that’s why reading with your kids is so important.

      (Cue NBC’s “The More You Know” Graphic)


  3. Jacqueline

    My twins are EXACTLY the same, except in reverse. My daughter is the toy hoarder/expert ninja thief, while my bigger whinier son is the passive “I’ll get you later” type. I had to laugh the entire way through your post, as I see that exact scenario at my home daily, and oh yes, I laugh. Every time.


  4. jetts31

    Expect her to hit him in the head again and continue to do so until you stop laughing everytime she does. It took me a few times to stop laughing at my kids when they would do something I was supposed to discipline them for.
    And a Boy George reference? Well played sir.


    • John Pseudonymous

      I was thinking the same thing. Eventually they’re going to better grasp what it means when Daddy is laughing and I’m going to have to stifle it.

      And thanks. There’s always room for a little Boy George.

      From a distance anyway.


  5. EduDad

    My kids fight a lot. Even though my son is 3 years younger, he is nearly as tall, heavier, and stronger than his sister. Like you, I laugh first and discipline second. It’s a hard habit to break.
    Better than yelling or crying I guess.


  6. Andrea

    Hi there! I just found your blog through Daddy Knows Less and am dying! Hilarious! I love, love, love the play by play scenario. And sometimes, you can only laugh at them. I wish I would have started my blog when my turkeys were babies (they are now 3 1/2) but I am just now able to form coherent sentences again and even sometimes that is questionable. If you want to have the sh*t scared out of you about the joys of toddlerhood feel free to check out my meager little writing adventure.
    I can’t wait to read more and will definitely put this on the list of things for my husband to read. Nice work.


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