About to turn 9

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The boys will be 9 next week and they are beginning to separate. Not entirely. The twins are pretty much stuck with each other. It can carry. They get on each other’s nerves and take hits, verbal and physical. Sometimes you have to separate them. Other times they are inseparable.

Life also has a way of separating them. Separate classes in third year. And sports. Tyler loves baseball, Bryce loves football. There are times when one is in training and the other is with me.

Interesting phenomenon. Call it individuation. They are different alone than they are together. Less competitive, less surly, more relaxed. Plus who they really are, I suppose, which is overlooked in the constant back and forth of twinship.

I’ve had Bryce alone lately more than Tyler because Tyler is in a fall baseball league that practices at night with them. We drop it on the ground and Bryce and I head to the library for a few hours. Alone, Bryce is calmer, less annoying because he doesn’t have Tyler to annoy, and be annoyed by, and he knows I have less tolerance for annoyance.

A friendlier side emerges. More thoughtful, more conversational. I see intelligence and creativity coming to the fore. The library has crafts and construction kits in the kids’ section, and it’s not crowded at this hour, so he plugs into activities and I keep him company. He likes a challenge – up to a point. He has a low tolerance for frustration, so sometimes I have to help him. He was interested in origami for a short time, but it’s quite detailed and the instructions, often the case, aren’t the best, so within a very short time his head is exploding.

Crafting and interconnecting Legos and other blocks takes patience and focus. Not all 9-year-olds are good at this. We’re trying one of those “find the 10 differences in two nearly identical pictures”. He finds five and then he’s done. I find the other five and give him clues. It’s OK to work things out together. I hope he will extend this lesson to work with his brother.

As the sun goes down, it’s time to get Tyler back. It is fall weather so by the time we get there it is cold. Tyler forgot to bring his sweatshirt, and he’s standing in right field where there’s not much action, so he’s cold.

I say, unnecessarily, “Tyler, didn’t you bring your sweatshirt?” Grandparents sometimes have a way of rubbing it, in theory this will ground the lesson.

He replies, “No…should have.”

Tyler becomes a fan of the succinct stoic response. Earlier in the car, Bryce launched into a litany of aches, pains, cramps and wheezes resulting from “Knights on the Run”, the fundraising event earlier in the day where they were due to count as many rounds as possible for donations. When Bryce finally came to the end of his long list of complaints, Tyler’s retort was “Same.”

But my frigid right fielder doesn’t dwell long on his physical discomfort. After I give him my sweater, which is gigantic, and roll up the sleeves over his arms, Bryce calls for help at the “dig site” he discovered on the trail up the hill. nearby. Tyler is ready to locate a suitable stick or rock to dig up the usual things one would expect to find just below the surface of the topsoil: prehistoric fossils, ancient stone tools, dinosaur bones, buildings from early civilizations . Their expectations are simply exorbitant.

Since it’s my night to state the obvious, I say, “You’re real archaeologists, aren’t you?” Bryce says, “No, I’m a scientist. Tyler is an archaeologist. I’m not sure archaeologists would appreciate that distinction. He means Tyler is the digger and he is the one “studying” the results, neatly laid out on a nearby picnic table, each excavated Paleolithic artifact sitting atop a scratched tree leaf.

I notice the beautiful nail moon above my head sailing in the sunset afterglow, so we walk to the top of the toboggan hill to watch it. I also point out bright Jupiter, rising in the southeastern sky through the trees.

My job is to expand their universe whenever an opportunity arises – although they seem to do quite well on their own. Somehow they have discovered that a remarkable array of mysterious treasures are buried in the earth below their feet.

As we look at the moon, I say, “She seems so close.”

“But it’s not,” Tyler replies, succinct as always. Despite the cold, he offers to celebrate this excellent evening with an ice cream. If nothing else, it gets him into a hot car. We stop at one of two artisanal ice cream parlors downtown, whose flavor of the month is “Trick-or-Treat”, and since their birthday is coming up and they’re already in full swing of Halloween fever , it’s hard to say no.

A comfortable calm sets in on the drive home – save for the contented slapping, sucking and creaking sounds of the back seat.

It’s not always the case, but it can be good to switch at the age of 9.

Really very good.

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