Best Friends or Just Roommates?

All parents have dreams for their children. I am no different. We dream that our children will be successful and happy. Some of us have specific dreams for their career, their salary, who they will marry, or what part of town they’ll live in.

Being the father of twins my number one dream, far and away, is that my kids will grow up to be best friends. I have had this dream since we found out we were having twins and I still dream about it today.

If in twenty years my kids see one another not just as a brother or a sister but as a true friend and companion with whom they can share their deepest troubles and their most profound joy, then I know I will be able to sit back and say I did something right.

Our kids spent the first three weeks of their lives in the NICU. In the NICU, each child has his or her own cubicle with any necessary equipment to help them grow and mature. By their ninth day on earth, our kids were mostly free of the wires and other monitoring devices that helped to keep them alive.

My wife and I went for one of our half dozen daily visits and when we got to their usual spots on the near wall, we noticed that our son’s cubicle was open and he was not in it. We assumed one of the nurses had taken him somewhere to do a test or bathe him.

But then we looked in our daughter’s cubicle and instead of one tiny baby we saw two tiny babies snuggled up against each other face to face sleeping. Our son in his blue outfit and cap and our daughter in her matching yellow.

The sight of our two kids sleeping so close together immediately brought tears of joy to our eyes. To this day, that is one of the happiest moments of my life. These words I’m writing here don’t do it justice.

From the time we found out we were having twins I had pictured this day in my head. And now, nine days after their birth, they were finally mature enough to be without the wires that had isolated them from one another in their separate cubicles.

The doctor walked over to us and she smiled. She was looking in on our two babies—brother and sister, best friends. She asked if we had any questions, meaning medical questions I’m sure, and my wife and I both said together with urgency and excitement, “How do you get this darn cubicle open? We need some pictures.”

She obliged us with a laugh, and we snapped away. Of the thousands of pictures we have of our twins those pictures of them together for the first time are my most treasured. We took pictures with the speed of the paparazzi on the red carpet.

Although I have no psychological or medical knowledge to support this, I had worried that because they were forced to be in their separate cubicles, they wouldn’t be able to fully bond, and every day they were not together—after spending 34 weeks together in the womb—was a day of best friendship lost.

Of course I was wrong. Two plus years later and our kids get along wonderfully for the most part and there is a special bond that I, not being a twin, will never fully understand or be able to adequately explain.

They shared a crib until they were five months old, and they have slept in the same room at night until just recently. We had to separate them because they started waking each other up in the night.

It has worked out well and they don’t seem to mind too much. I wonder though if their sleeping in separate rooms will erode the bond that they are building. They are becoming more aware of each other, and as their language and cognitive skills continue to develop they interact with each other much more regularly.

Will this crucial bonding time of chatting before they drift off to sleep and of looking over at one another first thing in the morning be lost? Will it diminish the likelihood of them becoming best friends?

I don’t know if it will. My wife thinks I’m over thinking it and perhaps I am. I know that there are dozens of routines that we have in place to create, maintain and develop a close friendship for the two of them. Yet, I still worry about this room separation.

And perhaps it will only be temporary. Maybe when they’re older and they have more control over their sleeping patterns they can move back in together. Roommates once again—this time with a closer bond and a greater understanding of one another. I don’t know when or if this will happen.

And perhaps I’m not giving them enough credit. After all, I’ve been best friends with my best friend for 27 years, and we never once shared a bedroom. Maybe my dream is still alive. I hope so.

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