One thing that I struggle with as a mom of twins is the simple sounding demand: “Me first!” Uttered countless times a day by my twin four-year-old’s, this demand/phrase has my sanity in a fragile state and my patience worn thin. They want to be first in everything. Literally everything–and each one wants to be first ALL day long.
Every morning shortly after waking up: “me first” down the stairs; then onto breakfast: a cacophony of “me first” as to who gets their breakfast served first. Then “me first” for bath time; “me first” for getting changed; “me first” for getting shoes on; “me first” for getting into the minivan; “me first” for getting buckled; “me first” for getting unbuckled; “me first” for getting out of car; “me first” for walking into school.
At this point of my day it is around 9 am, and I have been negotiating with these two strong- willed, demanding personalities for about two hours, and after a brief break while they are at school, the chorus of “me first” commences again.
I have tried mediating the “me first” mind set by offering a rotation. For example, I say “Graham, you were first getting your shoes on, so Sylvia will be first to get on her jacket.” Sometimes this strategy works and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I forget who went first for the previous activity and create a fight with one of the twins getting the “me first” prize twice in a row. Or there is the problem when they both REALLY want to be first for something– like getting in the van. An actual race ensues as to who will enter the van first. The race turns into mayhem and it looks like a roller derby fight has erupted, as they try to prevent the other from getting into the van before the other–then they get stuck, and in the process of getting unstuck a physical fight ensues. Oftentimes, I feel like I am living with the two-headed monster from Sesame Street. I wish my twins would learn the word ‘cooperation’ from these muppets.
My ten-year-old has her own unique strategy to break the “me first” mindset. She tells them, “first is the worst, second is the best and third is the one with the hairy chest.” Fail: they still want to be first, even if it is the worst.
My husband says I should just be stern with them and not negotiate with them. Maybe he is right, as they never play the “me first” card with him. In fact, they seem to hardly have any complaints or fights when he is around. (I don’t think they ever ask him for a drink or a snack–they really never bother him). I think they save their worst behavior for mom.
The one and only time I love the phrase “me first” is at bedtime. They both race up the stairs to be in bed first. (yay!) Once I tuck each of them into bed, I tell them that I am going to fall asleep first and, and both shout: “Me first. Me fall asleep first!” And I happily say, “Okay then, you win! Good night!
I’m sure this “me first” phrase is a phase that most four year old’s go through. Having twins may heighten and exacerbate this behavior (and make mom nuts in the process). I keep telling myself: “this too shall pass.” And soon enough we will be facing new challenges and battles.
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