Years ago I read a few twin-centered parenting books. My girls were all of about one year old, and we all know that in hindsight, reading a parenting book when your children are not even considered toddlers yet is pretty much a waste of time. But back then I thought I was getting a head start on things. And one of the main things I took from these books was the importance of spending individual time with your twins.
Ask me how many times since then I’ve taken the girls on individual outings. Not including errands. It’s embarrassing.
Zoe had that kind of quality time with me from 18 months old. When Rachel and Claire were in preschool twice a week, Zoe and I were together. ZOE AND I WERE ALWAYS TOGETHER.
When Rachel and Claire went to elementary school and Zoe started preschool, she still had two days a week with just me. I miss those days with my girl terribly, although most of them ended with me saying, “Wow, is it time to pick up your sisters yet? Because this child needs someone else to talk to that is not me.”
Anyway. I decided recently to make the effort to take each of the girls on a special outing, just me and her.
My visions for these outings were idealistic at the very least. We would go to a local coffee shop or bookstore, grab a treat from the pastry case and a coffee for me. We’d find a small cafe table near the warm sunlight streaming through the windows, just enough room for her to draw quietly in her journal and for me to read my book. We’d stop every few minutes to chat about her pictures or school or whatever.
“Mom, I want to go to the mall.”
If you know me at all, you can probably guess that I hate the mall. It’s not sunny. It’s loud. There’s terrible music playing at just about every turn. It’s filled with strange people who are just there to…shop. For someone who pretty much only goes out when I need something, I find that very strange.
She wanted to go because there was a Sanrio store, filled to the brim with Hello Kitty and friends.
The Hello Kitty store was no more.
Not only that, but in this trip to the mall, I learned that The GAP had closed, the once gigantic Express store moved into a suite less than half its prior size and apparently now stocked nightclub wear (I used to buy my work clothes there!), and of course Victoria’s Secret and it’s boobs still reigned supreme in the upstairs, near the food court. Oh, and Abercrombie & Fitch still smells like teen desperation.
There WAS a Pokemon store (with everything behind glass cases, THANK GOD. Going to the mall with sensory seeking kids is a special experience indeed). There was a cool hippie store with lots of jewelry for her to paw through, Chinese stress balls for her to ooh and ahh over, and bonus hookahs for her to pick up and shout “I want THIS!” There was a giant pretzel from the pretzel shop.
And of course no trip to the mall is complete without a stop at Claire’s. Especially when you are with Claire.
Claire is turning out to be my girly girl. She’s discovering her style, although she still needs a little guidance on what combinations won’t assault other people’s eyeballs. She loves makeup and nail polish and admires herself in the mirror. I would say that looking nice is important to her, and she tests the boundaries of what goes with what. But I think the main thing she cares about is “Do I feel good in this?”
She picked out a sparkly teddy bear necklace and a small compact of glittery eyeshadow, because although the intention of this outing wasn’t to go buy her something, it’s not like you can take you kid to the mall and go home empty-handed. Children do not exactly understand window shopping, and I figured the $10 I spent on those things would have been spent on coffee and treats at a coffee shop.
At the end of the day, or the END OF DAYS because it was the mall, I was just glad to spend that time with her. As admirable as our intentions are, it’s not something we get to do often, even though we know it’s so important.
“I love spending time with you, Mommy,” she said, hugging my arm tight as we walked through the parking lot. “But I miss my sisters.”
Seems we’ve fostered quite a bond among those three. And I’m grateful for that. Christian and I won’t be around forever, and it’s important that they have each other. Even if right now it seems like they can’t seem to get away from each other. And even if I have to go to the mall.