Child(ish) Reads: Marigold and Rose

Next week is our spring break, and we are taking two weeks off and heading to the beach to enjoy our time with family. But before we go, we have a cute little Child(ish) Read to add to your TBR.

I was gifted a copy of Marigold and Rose by one of my colleagues. It is a short novella about two infant twin sisters in their first year of life. There isn’t an overarching plot or storyline. In fact, you could probably read this book in an hour. The author, Louise Glück, is a Nobel Prize-winning poet, so expect prose and getting into your feels.

The story switches narratives back-and-forth between the sisters, Marigold and Rose. They can’t walk or talk or read, but they are completely conscious of everything around them. The girls are quick to notice the differences between each other, and they have an internal awareness of their parents, grandparents, and the role they play in their lives.

Both Marigold and Rose pick up on such subtle details about one another. It is clear they don’t know the full breadth of language or how to put observations into verbal words, but that doesn’t make their thoughts any less poignant or heartwarming.

They pick up the vocabulary used by their parents and in kids books, and try to make sense of idioms and turns of phrase. You can tell all of the passages are written simplistically, but the girls give them so much meaning. It tracks with what I think a twin child’s inner monologue would actually be; observant, curious, and making one-to-one connections within their world.

Obviously, this book is fiction but it’s a small reminder of how aware our children are, even in their first days, weeks, and months. You see the beginnings of sibling rivalry, the beginnings of personality, and you see the seeds of feeling less-than when compared to each other.

You can empathize with each of the girls, even though they are so different but leading parallel lives. It’s not just that one baby likes people and the other doesn’t. They both bring up very real feelings and shortcomings, and wish they could be more like the other. But they know that together, they and their family are complete.

While we look for our babies to start playing and sorting and building in their development, we shouldn’t forget their emotional development. As a kid who had a problem with self-esteem growing up, I do place a lot of effort in trying to build emotional intelligence and confidence in my kids.

In our past posts about twins, Mary and I have discussed that you are raising two different people. They may have the same nature, the same nurture, they might look the same or you might dress them the same. You may even consider them a set. But at the end of the day, they are two different people with two sets of feelings and needs.

As a secondary observation, the book also reminds us of our role as parents. Newborns know who is and is not in their innermost circle. They notice our reactions, our tone, how we interact with our partners, who is “the favorite”. Kids also know when we are stressed, when we are out of sorts, and can feel that change even from our non-verbal demeanor and mannerisms. The time we spend with them is meaningful, even if it is just mundane tasks or routine.

Rarely do Troy and I ever separate the girls. We very much operate as a team. This year in Pre-K was their first time being in separate classes. After this spring break, we are instating a day each week where we split the girls up and give them each one-on-one time. We’ll let you know how it goes.

To wrap up, this is a very charming book and made me love and appreciate my girls and their relationship just a little bit more.

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