Ranting Update On My Evolving Feelings About the Boys’ Teachers

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Categories Classroom Placement, Other people, Parenting Twins, Relationships, School-AgeTags , , , ,

Friends, thank you for weighing in on my previous post. (Also, forgive me for posting twice in a row as if this were my personal blog.)

Based on Mommy, Esq.’s comment on how it hurt her feelings to be confused with her sister, even though they had way different hairstyles, and on torie’s comment about how this should be a learning experience for the student teacher, I composed a fantastically diplomatic email to the boys’ teacher suggesting a handy mnemonic device for the student teacher to use.

She wrote back with what I took to be a tone (an email tone, you know) that said, “Yeah, yeah, lady.” I have gradually accepted being *that mom* to this teacher… After the second or third time I had to suggest she might have had my boys confused for important things like testing and placement, I figured our relationship may grow strained.

Aside: Did I update you on that? Because after I asked a bunch of times I got an email that pretty much confirmed someone mixed up either the boys or their paperwork for some length of time.

Anyway. After the “yeah, yeah” response, I tried my hand at mining my 6-year-olds for info. First I asked P if their friends know who they are, or if they have to ask. He said most of their friends know. Then I asked about the teachers. He said, “Not so much.”

“Mrs. Johnson [school guidance counselor] knows us. And [librarian] is having me help her learn who is who. And [classroom aide] knows us but she said she doesn’t want us to get our hair cut the same! But [classroom teacher] and [student teacher]…” He shook his head. “…Nope!”

My feelings can best be summed up in language that is inappropriate for HDYDI.

My follow-up questions revealed that his classroom teacher mixes up their names all the time. “Like Daddy and I call you the wrong name sometimes?” I asked. He said no, not like that.

This is gut-wrenching. First, that this woman hasn’t been able to get them straight the entire school year… And maybe this is an argument for separating multiples in school, but mine wouldn’t have handled that well at all and we shouldn’t have to sacrifice their emotional well-being to protect them from people being lazy morons.

Second, this situation makes it even more likely that my boys were placed in the wrong reading groups for the first half of the school year, with the more competent boy placed in the remedial/intervention reading group, and the more challenged boy placed in the reading group for kids who are doing just fine. I can hardly believe this really happened.

Third, my heart breaks for my little boys who are actual people who deserve to be recognized and called by name and valued as individuals. How can you love or even like a person if you don’t recognize him, or can’t differentiate him from another?

This has happened despite never dressing them alike and maintaining different haircuts (one almost buzzed, one long and shaggy) the whole school year. Their names don’t start with the same letter or rhyme. They don’t sit together. They hold their faces differently. They have different friends and different mannerisms. Somehow, though, the fact that they are twins conveys free license to never really look at them.

Judging by the comments on my last post, this isn’t a problem exclusive to identical or even same-sex multiples! Being born as part of a set is dehumanizing enough that they’re reduced to the level of purebred dogs that no one but the owners can tell apart, and that’s okay and shouldn’t be at all offensive or surprising.

I’m fired up, people! I want to send a letter to the principal, the superintendent, and the United Nations, but I fear retaliation against my fellas. Internet, you’ve never steered me wrong. What do you advise?

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28 thoughts on “Ranting Update On My Evolving Feelings About the Boys’ Teachers”

  1. As both a teacher who has taught both sets of identical and fraternal twins and the mom of identical boys I see both sides of the situation. I know how easy it is to call a student by the wrong name ( I do this a lot when I have had siblings very close together), but there also needs to be accountabity to knowing your students. It does not matter if they are twins, or a new student you got mid-day on a Friday. When a little being walks into your room they need to be treated with respect, and knowing their name is showing them that respect.

  2. I am so furious for you. I would complain as loudly as I could to the principal, the school board, anyone who will listen. My boys are fraternal, but look similar, and everyone at their school takes pride in learning how to tell who is who and getting their names right. The face that this teacher doesn’t make that effort makes me think she is probably doing a lot of things wrong. Ack ! I can’t believe it.

  3. I would have a meeting with the principal.

    If the boys were singletons and a teacher had never taken the time to distinguish the child from others, she would be fired.

    It is exactly as you stated LAZY. And absolutely not fair to your boys. I mean if KINDERGARDNERS can distinguish them….hellooooo a teacher should be able to!

  4. I’m muttering curses under my breath on your behalf. I know I said it before, but the response seems to simply confirm that they don’t CARE enough to tell the boys apart. I don’t care if it’s “hard,” (which it shouldn’t be, haircuts alone are a terribly obvious cue) it’s your job to know your students. Would you just NOT BOTHER to learn another kid’s name? No? Then why is it acceptable to mix up two kids CONSTANTLY simply because they’re similar-looking brothers?

    OOOOOH, I am pissed for you. And this after you pulled your older daughter from (I assume) the same school…. this is not good at all.

    Go for it. Be “that” mom. Because you know what? “That” mom is doing the best for her kids and not accepting anything less. You’re not making unreasonable demands. You’re demanding that your boys’ teachers KNOW WHO THEY ARE.

    OOOOOH, I am pissed right now.

  5. Add me to the pissed on your behalf team. I want to give you and your boys a big hug after reading this. If my girls were treated this way, I would meet with the principal. I’d be sure to mention the teacher’s dismissal of your (well-founded) concerns.
    Mama Mama Quite Contrary recently posted Oh- the pictures!My Profile

  6. Jen,
    I don’t have twins but I do have a daughter who likes her hair short and I am soooo tired of people just looking at her and assuming she is a boy. Even in a party dress! We were at Red Robin for her birthday and she was decked out in girly stuff (party dress included) and a group of young women walked by her and started to giggle and then one said “I think that’s actually a girl.” to which two others said “No way. That’s a little boy in a dress.” SERIOUSLY???????

    It broke my heart because Kaylen HEARD THEM. I could see her little 6 year old face drop.

    I feel your boys pain….and yours.
    Casey recently posted WowsaMy Profile

  7. I totally get not wanting to be “that mom” but this is different. This is not okay. It’s one thing when it’s a student teacher, but it’s a very different thing when it’s their regular teacher. And when it’s their testing and their paperwork. If the principal does not see the gravity of the situation, go to the school board. If they don’t see the gravity, call your local paper.

  8. I, too, would go to the Principal. There might be other issues with this teacher and the Principal needs to know how she is treating your boys — NOT OK.

    Also, if the teacher is going to dismiss you, and you boys, I would send them to school EVERYDAY with a nametag on — a BIG nametag. I am shocked that they were mixed up in the reading groups for so long. NOT OK.

    Please do this for all the identical kids that follow your boys in school.

  9. Ugh, I really can imagine how frustrating this is for you… my girls are now two, and definitely look a LOT alike – and besides different clothes there isn’t much I can do about it. I guess maybe I could get one of them a really short haircut or something, but I’d so miss the curls 😉

    My girls are two, and are definitely very identical, and even now, my day care provider STILL gets them mixed up occasionally. They have been with her (and her two helpers) since they were 2 months old. (They are identical enough that my husband and I both occasionally call them by the wrong name – the difference being that we realize the mistake within a few seconds of looking… it’s clear that the daycare providers have mixed them up the entire day)

    (What isn’t helping – why *I* thought being an identical twin would be SO cool when I was a kid, and what I’m so scared of now – my two year old’s are already trying to trick the daycare providers… my littler one is apparently frequently telling them that she’s her sister! )

  10. I am not even a mother to twins and I am so frustrated for you. I found you on another blog. Following you now. Can’t wait to continue to read how this whole thing comes out. Hope you can stop by my blog and follow back. Have a great weekend! I am having a St Pattys Day $110.00 Cash giveaway. Don’t forget to enter.

  11. I would absolutely escalate this to the principal at least, followed by the superintendant if you don’t get satisfaction. It is bad enough from a purely human standpoint, but this could have been scholastically damaging as well, and that is should be unacceptable from the schools POV.

    Thank you for telling your story, I am going to file this away for when my identical boys go to school.

  12. I, too, agree that you need to address this with the principal. It involves their testing, schoolwork, learning and performance at school – that is exactly what the school needs to be addressing. But Amy said it just above perfectly so I will not repeat. But you need to address this higher up and you are not being “that mom”. You are doing right by your children and their education.

  13. As a teacher, I can’t understand the person you’re dealing with. I made a big effort to tell the twins I’ve had apart. Sometimes I do get names mixed up, but I work hard to fix that (and it’s not just with twins…my Spanish students have nicknames so I learn two names for each kid). If their paperwork is being mixed up, then a meeting needs to be set up or you need to put nametags on them. They don’t look so much alike as to be confused and the different clothes and hairstyles are a HUGE clue.
    Emily recently posted Sometimes twins are HARDMy Profile

  14. My girls look nothing alike. While one is a redhead the other is a blond with curls. What gets me is people who come up and ask me first about the age difference. I tell them a minute then remark “oh their twins”? After this they say something thats really stupid, ” how do you tell them apart”? Are yoy kidding me? a minute ago they didnt think they were twins but now thay know they have the mind set that t.ghey are twins therfore they are to e treated as a single unit. If i am with a friend they usually do the talking from this point on but otherwise i give them a run down of how it is in the “your a dumb ass” tone and move on. As long as they are standing together you will get stupid people who get this mind set of twins = one unit. Hopefully they will get a better teacher next year. Good luck with that!

  15. Jen, that SUCKS. We once had a pair of teachers who insisted that she could tell our girls apart, but clearly couldn’t. Same deal: never dressed alike, and so on.

    I talked to the teacher. No luck. I talked to the director. Sympathetic, but unable to get through to the teacher.

    I gave it a WHOLE year before giving up and moving them to a different program. The worst thing I’ve ever done for my kids was waiting that long and giving the moron teacher the benefit of the doubt.

    You know what she said, the first time I brought the issue, up? “I’ve had twins in my class before.” Yeah, that attitude might have been part of the problem. (Can you tell that I’m riled up right with you?)

    A lasting effect I’ve seen from that year is that my previously independent daughters started identifying more as “twins” than individuals. Their current teachers have worked with me to encourage their individuality, but it’s been a struggle, where it never had been before.
    Sadia recently posted Overheard 66My Profile

  16. I would be p*ssed! I teach kinder and I do accidentally call kids the same name and it has nothing to do with looking alike LOL, but they know that I haven’t mixed *them* up, just said the wrong name. And it should have been obvious to the teacher based on the work samples that the testing was wrong or possibly mixed up. I honestly would request a meeting with the teacher, student teacher, principal, counselor and any other teacher type people that work with your kids (aides, speech therapists, etc…) and discuss your concerns, the fact that their testing was mixed up and what they plan to do in the future to fix it, not to mention the fact that they should be really extra-extra helping your struggling learner since he has probably gotten very little out of the reading groups that were too hard all year. Good luck!

  17. Wondering what you/others think about having the boys talk to their teachers themselves? Coach them to say something along the lines of “it hurts my feelings when you don’t try to tell us apart”. I think this is shameful – teachers growing up were always respectful and caring enough to try to tell me and Stacey apart, even if they had problems doing so. Based on what you are also going through with your oldest maybe changing school districts? Cricky.
    Mommy, Esq. recently posted Post-Spica Cast Update- 45 Weeks Post-Cast and RunningMy Profile

  18. I feel for you and your boys. Definitely take it up with the principal.

    My identical twin girls are 2 and I am shocked how many comments we get from strangers and aquaintances that convey the message “who cares which is which”.

    I find it very interesting that two times we have been out in public and approached by someone who is a twin herself. Both times, the women have asked me “What are their names?”. (We never get asked that). That says a lot to me about how twins are treated.

  19. Wow, this is foreboding…I plan to have my b/g twins in the same class (in a small catholic school) and I hope we get a little more respect than this! I already get frustrated with people thinking the girl is a boy just because she has no hair…she’s usually in pink, but that doesn’t seem to matter. Also, a lot of people ask if they are identical, even after learning that they are boy and girl. Um..I don’t have time for a biology lesson, but no. Your (adorable) boys don’t look a thing alike to me, and I feel for you. While I don’t think it’s going to do lasting damage to the boys, how very annoying. Just keep being vigilant about things like paperwork/placement – keep trusting yourself to know when this has been mixed up and be their champion!
    J’aime Jackson recently posted Travel with Twins – were not crazy after allMy Profile

  20. Wow, what horrible teachers! I would definitely talk with the principle. In the mean time how about a dose of their own medicine? Get your boys to start “accidentally” calling these teachers by the wrong name. Mix them up, use other teachers’ names, Mr. instead of Mrs. – maybe that will get the message across.
    Erica recently posted Regular Posts A ComingMy Profile

  21. I am shocked…the student teacher is kind of understandable, but their regular teacher, unacceptable. The guidance counselor, who I am sure sees a lot more students then the teacher knows…the librarian asked for help from the boys, letting them know that she cares that she learn.

    I really like the idea mentioned above that said you should send them in BIG name tags every day.

    My twins look a lot alike, and people often confuse them. I usually dress them in their own colors (Bridget is pink and Aubrey is purple), but occassionally I dress them alike to make people work for it…especially family. They are not the same people. They have different personalities and very different voices…it’s all about taking the time.

    How do they feel about it?

  22. I am so upset for you!! It really does seem like that teacher just doesn’t care at all! I left our daycare because one of the girls there kept calling them “twin” instead of even trying to use their names! I was really annoyed and if a TEACHER did that I would get so MAD!!! You do whatever you feel like doing! I am behind you 100%!

  23. Oh man! My identical twins are only 2, but I was so flipping mad when I picked them up from their sunday school nursery class and the teacher had written “boy 1” and “boy 2” on their papers instead of their names. To have an actualy school teacher not even know who your boys are is beyond aggrevating. I taught kindergarten for 2 years. I know how unprofessional your child’s teacher is. Especially mixing up their testing scores. For pete’s sake! That’s ridiculous. My advice would be to slap a “Hello my name is… ” Sticker on each of your kids when they head to school each day and see if that helps. My mom also taught kindergarten and she had a hard time telling some twins apart in her class but she would just ask them each day when they arrived which was which and then she would remember “Matthew has the red shoes, Miller is wearing blue…” That teacher has got to get it figured out.

  24. I am the mother of 7 year old fraternal twin girls who are not at all alike. It amazes me how disrespectful people can be by calling them twin instead of their names. Have to say we’ve had more problems since they went into separate classes and they have been mixed up in tests. No easy way to deal with it and singleton parents don’t understand.

  25. The implications of this go way beyond being put in the wrong reading group. What happens in the same situation anywhere, school, daycare, sports teams later…. the lists as you know can go on for ever. If either of those children ( heaven forbid) gets sick and need antibiotics and/ or medicine, how does a teacher/ student teacher decides who gets it? Flip a coin???

    I feel your pain without having kids or being a twin. If there ever was a reason for people to carry a STUPID sign these two sure would fit in the group!

  26. I stumbled on this older post here and am incredibly hurt by the comments. I am a teacher who had two sets of identical twins in a class of 16 this year. (There was also one fraternal twin.) I was very careful with keeping tests and grades separate, but those are associated with written names! I cannot believe twin mothers would think a teacher is a horrible person for not being able to tell the children apart! I made a huge effort to learn all 80 of my students’ names within the first week of the school year. It took another couple of weeks to tell apart one set of identical twins, but I was never quite sure of the second set. I felt AWFUL having to repeatedly ask them their names. Now that I’m pregnant with twins, I’m hoping they’re fraternal so that they won’t have to deal with this issue. But now, as a teacher, I realize I should call twin parents at the start of the year and ask for help in telling the kids apart. Reading your comments, I’m afraid to do that! I cared deeply for the two girls who I taught this year who I had difficulty telling apart. I felt awful that I had such trouble. Don’t freak out on your kids’ teachers, don’t assume they hate your kids or should be fired, don’t assume there’s a “tone” to any email, and don’t use passive-aggressive name mix-ups to get your point across. Help the teacher any way you can. They don’t hate your kid. Those of your with the hateful comments — what horrible parents!!!

  27. Teacher and Twin Mom, you made the effort to tell your twin students apart. I can’t speak for everyone, but all I want is for teachers/neighbors/relatives/friends to make an effort. I still mix up my own twins sometimes, so I sure don’t expect everyone else to get it right all the time (or even most of the time, depending on how often they see them).

    The thing is, though, that I made an effort too. I didn’t dress my boys alike, and I gave them different haircuts. They wore name tags for the first week or two of school, because that’s school policy for the kindergarteners.

    I did help the teacher in any way I could, *because it was in my sons’ best interest.* You might read these comments differently once your children are born. You might be surprised at how little effort people put into knowing which child is which, even if your kids are fraternal. I was genuinely very surprised at it — not at their inability to tell my boys apart, but at the lack of effort.

    No one here is a terrible parent, they’re just walking a path you haven’t walked yet — and I hope you don’t have to walk it!
    Jen recently posted i envision a world where we are all making breastmilk smoothies for our highschoolersMy Profile

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