The Twin Dynamic (Spoiler: There Isn’t Just One)

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Categories Classroom Placement, Education, Parenting Twins, School-AgeTags

My daughters were only one of four sets of twins in their grade in the school’s dual language program. Forty-nine kids. Eight twins. This meant that their teachers got some really great insights into the variation that exists in twin relationships.

We got to talking about this the other night over dinner, and I found Mrs. H’s observations to be fascinating.

The Twin Dynamic

First, some background.

Both my 8-year-olds, M and J, are excellent at math. However, M is extremely public and loud about being good at math. When she has nothing else to do, she walks around multiplying 2 and 3 digit numbers in her head and announcing her results to everyone within earshot. J just does the math she needs to do to get through her day and make her teachers proud. She’d rather read.

In a recent math/problem-solving competition, it was J who placed nationally. M did extremely well, earning a spot on the honour roll thanks to her 90th percentile score, but J got the really big deal award.

Their teacher, Mrs. H, who is also their best friend’s mother, is very sensitive to all her students’ confidence and emotional needs. So, before announcing J’s accomplishment to the class, she asked M if it would be okay to acknowledge her exceptional performance on this test. She reminded M that she was fully aware that she was the Class Mathematician and that she really does have stupendous numerical and logical abilities.

M didn’t hesitate for a moment. Of course she wanted J acknowledged. She was proud of her sister. She was prouder of her sister being one of 89 students out of 25,000 nationwide to earn a perfect score than she would have been had she achieved it herself. In fact, it was M who bragged to me (and every stranger we encountered) about her sister’s performance, not realizing I’d already heard from the teacher. I was the one to point out how well M had done, and she poopooed my enthusiasm in light of J’s win.

Mrs. H observed to me that my daughters’ pride in each other, protectiveness of each other, and lack of competitiveness in academics was unique among the twin pairs under her tutelage. J and M can bicker with the best of them, but when there’s an accomplishment to be noted, there’s never any resentment. They have no sense that one sister performing better diminishes the other in any way.

Neither of them can stand to lose at board games, though. The tears that have been shed in our house over Candyland, Monopoly and Yahtzee could fill a small lake. I banned playing for points the day I introduced Scrabble.

The other girl twins, Mrs. H told me when I asked, are rather more likely to measure their academic performance against each other. They’re more likely to take differences to heart. They, too, are extremely high performers at school. Mrs. H joked that when other teachers make comments about how smart “her twins” are, it takes quite a bit of digging to figure out which pair is under discussion. All four girls have straight black hair, are half-Mexican, dress differently from their sisters, and are sweet, well-mannered, and popular on the playground. The two sets of boys were in the class at different times, so they’re a little easier to distinguish. The boys, too, are rather more competitive than my daughters.

I think it’s important to remember that multiples, as sets, are as unique as they are as individuals. My twins’ relationship doesn’t look like your twins’ relationship, and that’s good and normal. I wish more educators were like Mrs. H, recognizing that being a twin doesn’t dictate how a child interacts with the world. At least in my experience, the twin relationship enriches the individual child, rather than dictating her behaviour or limiting her options.

Stay tuned for a post next week containing our advice to a mother who is fighting for her sons’ right to be in the same classroom. I so wish they had Mrs. H as their teacher. She gets it.

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the single mother of 8-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, but now also blogs at and Multicultural Mothering.

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Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 10-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. They live in the Austin, TX suburbs, where Sadia works full time in information technology. She contributes to a number of parenting websites and magazines and also runs The Mommy Blogging Guide, where she answers mommy bloggers' technical questions.

14 thoughts on “The Twin Dynamic (Spoiler: There Isn’t Just One)”

  1. That’s lovely about your twin girls and how they support each other. I went to school with a set of girl twins, and they were highly competitive of each other. #TwinklyTuesday
    Kelly recently posted EXCUSES, EXCUSESMy Profile

  2. Hey there, I am the single mom of fraternal twin boys…wait excuse me…21 year olds may not classify as boys anymore. You can read more about them here :)
    My boys are very supportive of each other as well. It has been a pleasure to watch them grow and physically and intellectually. Cherish these years because they fly by quickly. So glad I ran across your post at #twinklytuesday
    Lowanda J recently posted #SunshineBoxSwap RevealMy Profile

  3. I love this post! Your girls are both so wonderful, so individual a huge credit to you. I think it’s wonderful how supportive they are with each other, absolutely gorgeous and well done to them both. Thanks for being a fab co-host of our wonderful #TwinklyTuesday
    Lisa (mummascribbles) recently posted Twinkly Tuesday 23/06/15My Profile

  4. That’s great that they’re so proud of each other and amazing at how good they both are at maths. It’s interesting how siblings interact and nice to know that all sets of twins are equally different. :) x

  5. Hey Sadia,

    Your girls sounds precious! I once taught identical twin girls and boys in the same school year. It was crazy telling them apart, but I did find that the girls got along better in the classroom than the boys.

    I found your Twinkly Tuesday linkup today, and thought I’d join in.

    Glad to find your site.

  6. I LOVE this post!! How lovely that all the sets of twins are so different. Just as it should be too. Your girls sound amazing Sadia!! I’m a total luddite when it comes to maths!!! I could do with your littles to give me some lessons !! 😉 Thanks for being a fab #TwinklyTuesday host lovely x

    Caro |
    Caro | The Twinkles Mama recently posted Twinkly Tuesday 23.06.2015 | Featuring Pirates and DolliesMy Profile

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