Home>News Center>Life

Double happiness
Updated: 2004-06-01 08:39

For Children's Day, reporters Xu Wei, Tian Yi and Jin Haili talk to three families who have been doubly blessed with twins: one set of newborns, another of toddlers, and a third preparing to exit the childhood years.

Exhausted, but loving parents tell them that the double difficulties of raising twins -- and there are plenty -- are more than made up for by the joys Xu Wei It's like that old Doublemint commercial: Twins are double the pleasure, double the fun -- and double trouble.

Ask Shi Yu, whose life changed immediately and dramatically with the arrival of twin daughters Kunkun and Jinjin four months ago. Shi, 31, a human resources manager, describes their arrival as a ``special and priceless gift to the family.'' Even now, Shi says, their different personalities can be discerned. Kunkun, the elder sister, is reserved and composed. She seldom laughs or cries, while Jinjin is vivacious, smiling at everyone. ``My wife and I joke that Kunkun will become an academic, while Jinjin's outgoing personality will make her a successful businesswoman,'' he says. ``They're different individuals, but we love them in the same way.'' To Shi, twins offer the rare experience of watching two outwardly similar children grow in different ways -- and the freshness of diversity. ``When I'm tired of carrying one baby, I just put her down and carry the other,'' Shi quips. ``Twins bring vitality to our family and help make every moment fresh, happy and warm.'' Of course, twins are also, famously, double trouble. There are two children to feed, clothe and bathe, two children to attend when they begin crying simultaneously -- and while parents of singletons can grab some rest while the baby naps, twins don't always nap at the same time. ``All our time is devoted to caring for the twins,'' Shi says. ``We haven't been out for ages.'' That is the price of this precious gift. And there is also the doubled price of milk powder, diapers, toys and even baby insurance. But Shi is not complaining: his twins, he says, are worth the cost. Tian Yi Twin sons: a blessing -- or a curse? Zhu Jianxin and Ye Hong, the parents of 5-year-old twin brothers, say frankly that it was ``a mixed blessing.''

Zhu, 38, an English professor at the College of Foreign Languages and Literature at Fudan University, and Ye, 36, a lab technologist working at a joint-venture hospital, knew that once their little boys were born, their lives would undergo a sea change. They just didn't know much. ``Before Guanghao and Guanghan were born, friends advised us to get as much sleep as possible, as it may be our last chance for a long time,'' says Zhu. ``Now I realize that they could not be more right.'' Looking back on five years with twins, though, the parents say that sleep wasn't even the biggest issue: It was health. When one of the twins got sick, the other one would, as well, and the stress and burden of caring for two sick children immediately doubled. ``There were two whole months when the twins were 2 years old when they fell ill in turns. First, the younger one got chicken pox, and although we kept the elder one at my mother's home, he caught it, as well. Then they caught flu, and then acute gastroenteritis,'' recalls Ye, her heart still fluttering with fear at the thought of it. Still, a mixed blessing is still a blessing, and Zhu and Ye can't hide their pride and joy in their children. Zhu Guanghao, nicknamed Dada (big), is a quiet, shy boy. If he takes a liking to a person, he can be very generous: He will give him or her a litchi, colorful stickers, a small red candy box or another of his treasures. By contrast, Zhu Gaohan, Xiaoxiao (small), who is only two minutes younger, is already a master at the art of impressing people. He is always the first one to start a conversation, even with strangers. Their conversations are heartwarmingly amusing: Xiaoxiao: How can we get our brides? Dada: We can look for our brides at places where people have weddings. Xiaoxiao: But in that way those brides are not ours. Zhu Jianxin is as strict with his twin sons as his parents were with him, so in the eyes of the little brothers, dad is ``an awe-inspiring figure,'' not ``as sweet as our mom.'' One day they even said that they did not want to grow up, because if so, there would be three dads in the family and that would be very scary. ``Despite their looks, the twin brothers are totally different in other aspects, especially in terms of their personalities,'' the senior Zhu says. ``But they care so much about each other and just cannot live without each other.'' Jin Haili Beginning next year, Children's Day will become just a memory for Fan Ying and Fan Qijie: the male-female fraternal twins (called pigeon twins in Chinese) will turn 14 years old next year, an age when they are no longer considered children.

``I will yearn for my childhood, as it will probably be more difficult to make friends when I grow up,'' says the elder sister Fan Ying in a low and soft voice. ``Nonsense!'' retorts the younger brother, who was only two minutes behind in that crucial race 13 years ago. ``Trust me, life will be all the same.'' The pair may not fill the conventional image of twins since despite sharing the same birthday, they are obviously different in so many ways. Suntanned Qijie is taller and thinner. His only hobby is shooting, and he takes occasional lessons at the sports school for teenagers in the city's northeast Yangpu District. Fan Ying, by contrast, has a strong affection towards academic study, arts and music. Knowing her story is for an English paper, she even suggests conducting the interview in English. Ever since they were in kindergarten together, they had decided that they would act as independent individuals, without harping on the twin thing. Everyone in their class knows that they are twins, but that's where the story ends. ``A teacher in their primary school once had them sit next to each other but I was firmly against the idea,'' recalls the twins' mother Chen Fengzheng. ``I don't want them to feel that they can rely on the other and then to work less hard.'' It is said that a woman receives a second life after giving birth to a baby. And to the coveted mother of a pigeon pair, the sweetness is doubled. Whenever it is her birthday or Mother's Day, her daughter will give her a little gift like candles or small vases to show her gratitude while the boy, who has no sense of any dates other than his own birthday, will often massage her back to release the muscle stress caused by household chores. ``The advantage of their being so different is that they will never annoy me at the same time,'' says the sanguine mother, beaming. However, differences inevitably make for disputes, and for a pigeon pair who have to face each other for almost every single minute, it may even cause fierce battles sometimes. ``She always overstates my faults or even frames a case against me before our parents, which often gets me a severe beating,'' complains Qijie with his eyebrows almost knitted. ``I am only telling the truth and sometimes he's really standing on my nerves when I find my textbooks torn apart or the pencils secretly disappear,'' the sister fights back. If mom had given birth to only one of you, would life be much easier and happier? ``Sure,'' both of them nodded in agreement. Then what if one of you left right now and stayed far away for a fairly long time? A long and embarrassing silence ensues before Qijie finds his tongue first. ``That would be weird,'' he says, pausing as he searches for the right words. ``It may feel like that you suddenly lose your shadow without being notified beforehand, even if that shadow is an annoyance.'' For their last Children's Day wish, the twins want nothing more than to have their lives change as little as possible when they are on the other side of childhood.

  Today's Top News     Top Life News

State caps prices on scores of medicines



Peep-show victims in Japan seek justice



Hu has time for kids, plays ping pong



Bush acknowledges 'great costs' of war



Bank auctions mortgaged assets



Iraq council delays choosing new leader


  Double happiness
  Clinton keynote creating buzz for bookexpo
  English tests trigger gold rush in China
  True love? Let a computer matchmaker decide
  Face to face with a sex worker
  Caught in the net
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
Hollywood Walk of Fame honors Olsen Twins
Chinese doctors separate Siamese twins
Twins wed twins in mid-winter night's dream
Egyptian twins successfully separated in Dallas
Doctors in Los Angeles separate baby girls conjoined
Indian sisters will remain conjoined
  Beckham signs Gillette deal