How the twins acquire and digest pain differently:

Tirza is a wild acrobat.  She is also tough as leather.  That toughness is probably a built-in component of her recklessness but also a consequence of it.  When you climb everything all the time, you fall often and get tougher.

Zella is a slow eater.  She’s the neat one.  When the other three girls are running around hooting and hollering and starting bonfires in their bedroom, she’s usually in a corner or another room with a book, mumbling to herself.  She doesn’t really play with toys; she meticulously sorts and re-sorts them, smallest first.  She’s the one I’m terrified of inoculating — I’m sure she’s going to be the one in ten millionth child who gets enough mercury from the shot to go totally autistic.

Tirza cries all the time because she is never less than one step over the edge, earning exotic injuries.  Zella cries all the time for who-knows-why.  She cries because something invisible hurt her feelings.  She cries because she can’t get a small toy to do something physically impossible like pass through an even smaller toy doorway.  She cries when she sees trees.  She throws fits if she doesn’t feel like she has enough space.  She was the first one to notice that our small bathtub is finally too small for all four growing girls.  Summary:  Agoraphobic, claustrophobic, obsessive-compulsive autism-risk.

Did I mention they both cry all the time?  All of them do.  Tirza and Lana are the only ones we can understand when they cry:  Lana because she can talk, Tirza because she has obviously just pulled something heavy over onto herself or jumped off the top stair without a plan.

The nonstop crying is a problem:  When is a scream actually important?  Christa and I have a policy to never ignore crying … unless all remedies have been exhausted without success due to the child’s total commitment to sorrow.  Zella started crying yesterday.  Rather than run to her, I told her to come to me for comfort.  She collapsed in a ball, face down in the neighbor’s yard.  “What a fit”, I thought.

When Christa went to scoop her up, Zella cried harder, kicking her legs and flailing her arms which means “don’t touch me” in body language.  Christa persisted and held her tighter.  No longer face down in lawn, she was available for closer inspection.  A knot the size of a walnut was growing on her forehead and her left eye socket was swelling and raw from road-rash.  This was no fit:  She was hurt.  Really, legitimately hurt.  I would cry if I rode my face down the neighbor’s driveway.

We spent the rest of the night re-evaluating our policy of raising Sarah-Conner-tough girls.