[THE TWIN FILES] On Display: Reflections From the Public Life of Twins

kmacphee-on-display

Prior to my life as a father, I was able to come and go as I pleased.  I would walk through the mall uninterrupted, enjoy blissful trips to the grocery store, and if I wanted a quiet day to myself I could easily put my head down while in the cashier’s line.  Today I am a father of 8 month old girls, and my peaceful walks through the shopping mall are now filled with finger pointing, stares from across the pedway, and people who insist that I need to know about their cousin in Texas who works with a man that has a neighbor with twins.

I have answered the following questions so many times that I want to have a t-shirt made with bold print…

Are they twins? – Yes.

Are they Identical? – No.

Are they Girls or Boys? – Both Girls.

Do twins run in the family? – No.

You must be very busy! – Yes.

What are their names? – Hayley and Keira.

I have also thought it would be funny to walk in stores with a flashing red light on my head and scream into a megaphone saying “The twins are here!  Everyone stop what you are doing and tell me about your cousin with twins!”

I don’t want you to think that I am bitter about all this attention, because the truth is I think it is rather funny.  As I walked through the mall on the weekend, I noticed people nudging their spouses and pointing in our direction, I heard people from across the room saying “Ahhhh, look at the twins,” and I have also noticed others looking out of the corners of their eyes so I wouldn’t see them staring.  I understand that as I walk through the mall with two incredibly beautiful girls (that’s what I have been told), I will attract a certain level of attention, and I am ok with stopping once in a while, provided we have the time, to talk to elderly women as they pinch the girls’ cheeks.  I have had some nice conversations with people who I never would have talked to before the twins arrived; I enjoy the smiles the girls attract.  I especially appreciate the people who help me with opening doors, or who let me ahead of them in line.

All this attention is positive, and it is interesting at times; however, as I reflect on my day I can’t help but think what it would be like to be an individual who attracts similar attention because of a physical or cognitive ‘disability’.  My sister and I both have epilepsy, but we would only have to worry about our ‘dis-ease’ when our seizures went public.  For me, this did not happen very often, but for Amy, her seizures caused all kinds of emotional stress as she sometimes wet herself in public, or would be alone on a sidewalk sleeping after having another episode.  Many years of dealing with teasing in school caused her to quit, and eventually she would look for love in all the wrong places.  The emotional stress of being different than everyone else can be very harmful enough to individuals.  Add pointing, staring, and comments from strangers, and the attention can be too much to handle for some people.

Walking through the mall on Saturday I also thought about what it would be like to be obese, or to be a person with different color skin than the majority.  I thought about the people who deal with racist or hateful comments and gestures on a daily basis, how difficult it would be to enjoy a walk through the mall, or around the block.  There are numerous other examples of the attention one can gather because they are ‘different,’ too many to list in this article.

As we reflect on our daily occurrences, we may search for a ‘reason’ why we have experienced the events in our lives.  I know why Jen and I have been blessed with twin girls (that is a story which I can save for another article), but I never thought that I would one day be walking through the mall with my twins to come to the conclusion that they are in my life to help me view the world from the perspective of other people.  Fatherhood has taught me more in the past 8 months than I would ever have imagined.  I am grateful that I am able to reflect and learn from the events of my life, and in the future, I will be sure to think about this lesson as I interact with the people in my community.

What has parenting/fatherhood helped you to discover?  I would love to hear your stories.

And so it is,

Karl

the end

Image credit: Elvis Santana

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