Q & A with Evan Welty
How did it come about that you decided to write "Pairs"?
When my twin boys were born, I got so much attention just walking down the sidewalk to get a cup of coffee. With the double stroller and the two little sets of curious eyes checking out the world, everyone had a comment, a friend with twins or a piece of advice. And I cannot tell you how many times I heard "Double trouble!" I realized that my boys would soon be understanding all these comments and I did not want their sense of self to be defined by random comments from strangers. I knew we had to start a little conversation at home about what it means to be a twin.
I looked for help in children's literature and did not find many books about twins, at all, in spite of twin birth rates climbing. It was disappointing because children's books were so powerful in my own childhood, helping me understand the way the world works. I decided to write something just for my boys and it ended up turning into Pairs - Twins and Other Twosomes.
What are your favorite children's books?
The entire Alfie series by Shirley Hughes, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble and Dr. DeSoto by William Steig, Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss, A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead and Erin Stead, to name just a few.
Do you have any theories on raising twins?
All parents obviously have very personal ideas about raising kids and raising twins is no different. Who knows if it makes much difference in how they grow into adults in the world? That said, there are so many issues I never thought of until I had two babies at the same time. Do you give them names that coordinate? Separate cribs? Dress them alike? Two birthday cakes? Sing 'Happy Birthday' twice? Separate classrooms? Separate activities? Separate rooms? The list goes on. I think you can tell from the tone of Pairs, we try to cultivate a sense of individuality for each person in our house. Especially for my twin children, I want them to feel they are known and loved for who they are and not who they are, compared to their twin. We try to answer all those "twin parenting" questions with that philosophy in mind. On a side note, I think cultivating individuality is more of an uphill battle - and maybe more critical - for twins who are similar (same sex and same interests).
What books or research influences your way of raising your kids?
I loved the book One and the Same by Abigail Pogrebin. She explores the nature of twinship from several different angles. I found it to be enlightening as I think about my boys' unique closeness and experience in life.
What's been the most memorable thing so far as a mother of twins?
I will always remember seeing them scoot together in their crib, at a few weeks old, until they were face to face. I will remember waking up and hearing my toddler boys "talking" to each other and passing toys back and forth between cribs. Of course, some of my most memorable mothering moments have been the "in over my head" ones - attempting a road trip by myself when they were babies and trying to nurse in a Starbucks parking lot and run into the bathroom with one baby on my back and one in my arms. Those moments of improvisation are always stressful at the time but hilarious in retrospect.
Will there be more books about this "pair" of boys? What does the future hold for you?
There might be more books. I have not yet decided. I just had another baby and I am exploring the delights and challenges of parenting one child at a time.