Ahead of my girls starting three-year old preschool last fall, there were pages upon pages of information for me to complete…times two, of course. In addition to the medical history and six degrees of contact information, there was a blank space where parents were invited to share any insight they felt would be helpful to the teacher.
Oh, where to begin???
I fought against my instinct to tell the teaching staff how brilliant my girls are…how precious are their hearts…how I love them to infinity and back (as we say in our house)…and how I was nervous as a cat about entrusting my biggest blessings to the preschool for six hours a week.
Instead I tried to focus on concrete examples of the girls’ background that I thought could influence their time in the classroom.
I wrote about this being the girls’ first time away from me, save for our college-age sitter who comes one afternoon a week. I shared that we have play dates with friends from time to time, but that preschool would mark their first time in any sort of organized group. I noted our discipline strategy (1-2-3 Magic), and that “while some days are better than others, in general, our girls are well-behaved”. Finally, I noted that we don’t watch TV and we avoid character marketing, so Dora, Thomas, and any of the Disney characters / princesses are unfamiliar to them.
After a lot of deliberation, I chose not to share any insight into the girls’ personalities.
At home, Baby A is the more dominant one. If given the opportunity, she will make all the decisions for the household…what to wear, what to play with, what books to read, when to rest, and when to run at full speed. Baby B has always been very conciliatory to her sister…she is usually very content to go along with her sister’s direction, even if it means giving up the toy she’s playing with, or forgoing her favorite book at bedtime.
Out and about, B is the more social of my girls, though. While A will only speak if she’s really in the mood, B is much more likely to “perform”…to wish the sales clerk “Good morning,” to answer questions about how old the girls are and who is the older of the two, to place our bagel order at our favorite bakery.
At home I do my best to manage the girls’ personalities. We have a “kid of the day” who gets to make most of the daily decisions. I try to keep an ear on the exchanges happening in the play room, to make sure B isn’t always getting bulldozed for the more coveted toys. Out and about I encourage B not to speak for her sister, to give A time to answer questions that are directed towards her.
Might this be valuable insight for the girls’ preschool? Certainly I think it could have been.
But I chose not to share it.
Instead I chose to let the girls’ personalities reveal themselves as they would, recognizing that the dynamics in an unfamiliar / group setting might be different than those at home.
So what did I learn???
When I had the opportunity – apart from the girls – I always asked their teachers how they behaved at school in relation to each other.
I was amazed – and thrilled – to hear consistently that they both held their own in the classroom. They played with each other sometimes, but just as often, they played with other kids. They were kind and polite and helpful.
And what I loved hearing, most of all, was how they took care of each other. They were each concerned that they both got stickers at the end of the day, that neither forgot their jackets on the playground. I heard several accounts of how one would “babysit” the other’s doll while she went to the bathroom. The teachers thought that was the cutest thing ever.
There was never any mention of dominance or dependence.
We still have our dynamics at home, but it’s so heartwarming to see how the girls support each other away from home. In hindsight, I’m glad I made the decision not to predispose the girls’ teachers to thinking about them in a certain way. Kiddos have a way of surprising us, as I was reminded by seeing my girls through another’s eyes.
MandyE blogs at Twin Trials and Triumphs. Her 4 1/2-year old fraternal twin girls have just started their second year of preschool.