I think I may be about to smash an illusion under which all parents labour - that their precious little darling is a unique, one of a kind, exclusive edition. You see the more time I spend with other parents of small boys, the more I realise that they are all cast from the same mould, or moulds. There are the little lads who love nothing more than mud, football and scrapping, then there are the girly boys who adore playing with glittery pink dolls and abhor the rough and tumble of male horseplay.
I have one of each so far as my eldest definitely spent more time trying to get into princess costumes than he did playing outside in the mud when he was a little un, while number two is much more of the male persuasion, with stomping in puddles and making a mess coming high up in his list of priorities in life. The twins have yet to nail their colours to the mast, so I am still watching this space to see which path they will choose.
However, far from being special these character traits are shared by many of their little boy pals. We went for dinner with a couple of school parents on Friday, who have twin boys in my eldest's year at school. They have one of each type of boy, and when we discussed our boys we almost found ourselves finishing each other's sentences as we fell over each other to say 'Yes, mine do that too".
From the fact that any direct question about their day or friends is met with a blank 'Don't know' or 'I've forgotten', while they can drivel on for hours about the intricate ins and outs of the arcane plot of Ben 10, to the tricky relationship balance that exists between and man's lad and a girly boy, it was as if they had been living with our two for the last few years. Of course there are differences, their boys are football mad, while mine aren't in the slightest bit interested, but I think that's go more to do with family affiliation than anything intrinsic to their characters.
Another friend has a son who is a couple of years older than my eldest, and seeing what she goes through with him is a bit like having a time machine, whereby I can fast forward 24 months to see what's in store. Each phase my boy enters, she has been there and done that, from the sweet and cuddly, to the mummy obsessed and the teenage sulky strops. For her talking to me must be like deja vu.
But it's not just friends' children who make me realise that many of those things I consider special to my children are actually shared by all and sundry. Whenever I see the latest pictures from the Beckham's boys parties, I realise that it's just what my boys would choose should we suddenly win the lottery and have the financial clout to give them their wildest dreams.
Perhaps it doesn't matter if our children aren't quite as much one of a kind as we might like to believe though. After all we still love them to bits and they each have their own foibles and idiosyncrasies that make them stand out from the crowd, even if it is only in their doting parents' eyes. In some ways it's even comforting, because when things go tits up you know that you aren't the first and won't be the last parent to face any the challenges your children throw at you.