Dragon / Phoenix Twins

27 Feb

“Are they Dragon Phoenix Twins?” I am asked every day, everywhere, and by everyone around me in Chengdu.

“Yes, they are,” I reply.

“Waaaaa” they exclaim with glee, and huge smiles,

“You are very lucky. How happy you must be.”

Twins generate as much or dare I say more excitement here in China as anywhere else; in particular, the Dragon / Phoenix (boy/girl) combination. The ancient Chinese emperor was symbolised by a Dragon, and his wife by a Phoenix.

Since boy / girl twins have the honour of being called the Dragon and the Phoenix they are at the top of the hierarchy, the best outcome possible, and so the highest blessing.

Total strangers seem genuinely happy for me, and always remind me of the gift of having them. They smile, caress the children, and try to carry them. Almost without fail I am told: “How cute, what curly hair, and big eyes they have.” This line sometimes reminds me of the scene where the wolf pretends he is Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother.

But I have yet to come across someone who is envious or jealous. This is amazing considering the one-child policy in China.

Quite the opposite in fact. People here associate twins with joy and luck to such a degree that almost no one seems to realise that at times raising two same-age babies can be tricky and tiring.

Our ayi (nanny ) once asked, “Isn’t it strange that out of all the people who stop to talk to you and the children, no one ever mentions how much work it must be to take care of them?!” This came up on a day when both L and R were sick and in need of extra attention. My husband was out of town for work. Our ayi and I were exhausted and had to laugh at that thought.

Only once, a mum playing with her 2-year-old son in the kids area of a neighbouring housing complex asked if I wasn’t exhausted taking care of two.
Almost immediately, the 3 mums around us responded for me: “It’s pure joy to have two, and especially if they are a Dragon and a Phoenix.”

Had my Chinese been better, I would have answered myself: True I complain at times because I am tired from lack of sleep, or irritated by L and R’s constant hair pulling, biting, snatching… but man am I happy to have my Dragon and Phoenix.

I live in Chengdu, China with my husband Maher and our two-year-old twins Leila and Rahul. I was an Ashtanga Yoga teacher until our little yogis became the teachers. Our Little Yogis

3 Responses to “Dragon / Phoenix Twins”

  1. Heidi Nevin at 8:49 pm #

    Hi Natasha,
    I remember seeing this wonderful piece in the back of an issue of Chengdoo magazine, and at the time I had the same reaction–how very strange that no one asks you if it’s exhausting caring for two. Because every single day, without fail, I am asked, “How on Earth do you manage to care for two children? Isn’t it exhausting???” It’s almost as if the one-child policy had erased all memory of siblings from the modern Chinese mind. It’s really peculiar that boy-girl twin sets don’t inspire that sentiment. I’ve taken to asking people who comment on my superhuman mothering abilities (mother of 2), “How many children did your mother have?” Invariably, they answer seven, eight, six, five, and so forth. And so? What exactly is the big deal about raising two? But it’s fascinating to me that this is not part of your experience here. For myself, in my most overwhelming mothering moments, I’ve always comforted myself by saying, “Fhew! At least I don’t have twins.” And yet I know that if I were blessed with double-trouble double-happiness, I’d make it through the days somehow. Still, to me you are truly a goddess of superhuman scope, and I bow before you. 🙂 xoxox

    • natasha devalia at 8:26 am #

      Hahahaha Heidi! If I could keep my frustrations at bay, and be firm and kind, not frustrated bordering mad-woman as I’ve been over the last few weeks, I might be “goddess of superhuman scope”!!! And then I wonder how my mum traveled with two toddlers and me on her own, or how my grandma managed her 7 kids. Thanks for your comment. Missing you.

      In fact, I wrote this post a few months ago, and since then a few people have asked me if it isn’t tiring to take care of two. Strangely enough, when we were in Canada last summer, MANY strangers said things like “Oh, you’ve got your hands full,” and “double trouble”.

      I prefer the Chinese take – my dragon / phoenix are a joy and I am very lucky!

  2. tuesday2 at 8:09 pm #

    So blessed ❤

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