Is it Labor Day yet?

My four-year-old twins go back to school in three and a half weeks. 24 days, in fact. What, you think I’m counting?

While I hate to wish away the summer, this one will not go down as one of the best on record. My kids need routine, they need structure, and they need some time away from each other. I am so thrilled that they are in separate classrooms.

When I first learned that my twins’ Montessori preschool “strongly preferred” not to put siblings in the same classroom, my stomach dropped a little. My little ones would be only just three years old and going to school for the first time, having been at home with me this whole time. I always assumed they’d be in the same class in preschool, and then maybe I’d split them up in elementary school. But I loved the school so much, I decided to take the plunge.

I am so, so, so glad that I did.

Don’t get me wrong, my son and daughter really are the best of friends. They play together all day long, and it makes my heart practically burst to see how much fun they have together.  They fight, sure, and push each other’s buttons like any siblings would. But the arguments are forgotten as quickly as they start, and back they go.

silly pair

At the same time, however, they are not completely dependent on one another. Both are pretty independent, adaptable, low-anxiety kids.  They love doing separate outings on the weekends, and were thrilled to get their own rooms when we made the move to toddler beds.  In the months before school started, I did my best to explain that they would be in different classrooms, with different teachers, and they thought that was simply peachy.

We have a full year of school under our belts, and I have never regretted having them in separate classrooms. The worst I can say about it is that there’s a little extra juggling on meet-the-teacher night.  While it’s certainly no secret that they are twins, I love that the teacher can see the individual kid, rather than having any temptation to compare to their twin. I love that they can make their own friends and do their own work, relatively free from the influence or distraction of their “other half.”

And for those who would have anxiety over this setup, I will provide the perspective someone pointed out to me. They are in school three hours a day, five days a week. They’re dropped off in the same car, at the same time, to the same building. They play on the same playground at the same time (I’m told they often look for each other – how sweet is that?). They are picked up together, and then spend the other 21 hours of the day in the same house, doing the same activities.  There is no shortage of togetherness.

But as the summer winds down and they are in each other’s faces all day long, I know I’m not the only one who is looking forward to school starting again.  They can’t wait to see their teachers (“and tell her I’m FOUR now!”), and though I don’t expect they’d ever say it in so many words, I think they’re just as excited to have a little personal space, too.

The Evolution of Fighting

At first, they barely seemed to notice each other.

I think my twins were at least six or seven months old before they really seemed to notice that the other baby was there, before they really started to interact.

As older infants, one might grab something out of the other one’s hand, but most of the time they simply went on playing as though it didn’t even happen.

As toddlers, any grabbing or shoving was largely out of a self-centered desire for an object.  It wasn’t so much about the other kid, it was about the thing or the place.

Now, as clever preschoolers, it is all about pushing the other child’s buttons. My son wants that pink cup, but really only because he knows it’ll piss off his sister.  My daughter refuses to let her brother look at the book over her shoulder, simply on principle.  One will antagonize the other, but back off just in time so that the tormented one gets in trouble, not the tormenter. I think 50% of the things they say to me right now are complaining about the other one.

One Crazy Summer

Part of this is the age; my kids seem to go through a nasty behavioral phase in the lead-up to their birthday (today! four!).  Part of it is the season. Summer is famous for less structure, stretched bedtimes, and all of the other things that leave boundaries open for testing.  I’m hoping to see an improvement now that the birthday has arrived, and am looking forward to school being back in session so they can have some space from one another.  And, truthfully, I am lucky. Despite the uptick in fighting, my twins play with each other all day long, and most of the arguments are quickly forgotten.

All the same, is it September yet? These guys need a break from each other.

New Year, New Voices

A very Happy New Year to all of our moms of multiples out there!

You may have noticed that posting has gotten a little… irregular around here.  Sorry.  Our bad.

But what that means, we think, is that it’s time for some new voices, new stories, new enthusiasm.

Do you want to write for HDYDI?

Moms (and dads, for that matter) of all walks are welcome.  Whether your multiples are newborns, in elementary school, or are still in utero, however they came to be a part of your family, whatever the make-up of your family is.

If interested, please send an email to [moms (at) hdydi (dot) com] with the following info:

  • Your name
  • Your multiples (age and gender/zygosity, just so we don’t suddenly have a blog written entirely about identical boys or something)
  • Your blog’s URL (would prefer if you currently maintain your own blog, but having one is not a requirement)
  • Your Twitter handle (if you have one)
  • A link to one or two of your favorite posts that you’ve written (or, if you don’t have a blog of your own, please submit a sample post in the email, less than 1,000 words)
  • Any other info about you or your family that you think is relevant to the kind of voice you could bring to our site.

Details from our side:

  • We would like to schedule people to post twice a month, generally on weekdays.
  • Despite the fact that we do run some advertising, this is not a paid writing gig.  At the moment, the ads we have generate enough to cover web hosting.  If that changes, we can re-evaluate.
  • While we sometimes post about products that we enjoy, this is NOT a review blog.   We do not post advertorial content.  Only your own words and your own opinions.  If a company or person provides something to you and you want to write about it, you must disclose that connection.

Any other questions, let us know!

Sibs

Cross-posted from my personal blog, Goddess in Progress

Twins or otherwise, I think every mom wishes her children would be good friends in addition to just siblings. Some hope age works in their favor, others put some faith in gender, and certainly the twin moms hope that there’s that mystical “twin bond” that everyone goes on about.

Ping Pong

My brother and I were not close. In fact, we actively loathed each other as children, and are now at least friendly as adults. But we have never been close, despite (or maybe because of) the scant 17 months that separates us in age. I very much hope that my kids do not have as difficult a relationship as my brother and I had, especially as kids.

One of the things that stuck out for me in the Nurtureshock chapter about siblings had to do with close relationships. If I’m remembering correctly, those who reported being closest with their siblings were not necessarily the ones who fought the least. Rather, they were the ones who had plenty of positive interactions and memories to counterbalance the (all-but-inevitable) fighting.

I can’t really think of any such memories with my brother from our childhood. My memory could certainly be failing me, clouded by the perception that we always hated each other, but maybe that’s part of the point?

Still, I watch my kids and how they play. Most of the time, making my heart swell, they seem to really enjoy playing with one another. They make up games, scenarios, races. They destroy the room with pillow forts and throwing stuffed animals around. They jump all over the place. It doesn’t surprise me, nor does it particularly alarm me, how quickly they can go from giggles to screams. Par for the course, I’d say. But what does amaze me is how quickly they can go from screams back to giggles. They don’t seem to hold grudges for very long, if at all. If one kid goes to time out for hitting/jumping on/grabbing from the other, they barely wait until the timer beeps to get back into their shared game.

Hawaii Trip

I know they’ll get older, get their own friends. They’ll probably be more separated by activities and gender and interests. But I really, really hope that they can continue to seek out each other’s company and be each other’s most trusted friend. What mom doesn’t want that?

The $10,000 question… how will our soon-to-be Baby 3 fit into (and/or change) this mix? Will it be big kids versus pesky little sister? Will the girls band together and leave Daniel the odd man out? Will the little one and Daniel find a shared love that Becca has no interest in? Or will they all get along at different times and different stages? Only time will tell.

For your enjoyment: 20 seconds that makes any mom smile…

The Narc

I’ve got one in my pair, do you?

Rebecca

My daughter, Rebecca, has always been more of the goody-two-shoes than her brother.  Which is not to say that she isn’t clever and sneaky and a challenge in her own way, of course. But for the most part, she’s a rule-follower.  In fact, I would go so far as to say she loves rules.  In part, she loves following rules simply because she likes to be able to point out how well-behaved she is.  But just as much, she loves enforcing the rules on others.  In particular, her brother.

If the two of them are playing together in the other room, you will frequently hear her bossing him around, telling him exactly what to do and how to do it.  And boy, if he gets out of line…

“DAN! Stop jumping!”

“DAN! NO! NO JUMPING!”

MOM! DAN’S JUMPING ON THE COUCH!

Rebecca

On the one hand, I won’t lie, it’s kind of handy to have a tattle-tale in the bunch.  Oh sure, she sometimes gets caught red-handed at something nefarious, too.  But the truth is that her brother is more likely to attempt something dangerous, or do whatever it is I’ve told him not to do 100 times before. So I don’t really mind having her be an extra pair of eyes to make sure nothing valuable gets dropped into the floor vents.

On the other hand, the tattling is getting a little annoying.  Sometimes, when she whines “Mom, Daniel just ….,” I want to shout back, “work it out!”  And there are times when I doubt the complete truth of what she says.  Believe me, she will not hesitate to throw him under the bus at the slightest provocation. While he may have done whatever it is she has accused him of, it’s quite possible she had a hand in the wrongdoing as well. An interesting sibling dynamic at work, to be sure.

And yet, I’m not sure I want to squash the tattling. Yes, it can be annoying. But do I really want to have her STOP telling me when something is going wrong, even if right now it’s awfully minor? What about the day when it’s something big, and I absolutely DO want her to say something?

How do you handle tattling in your house?

Very Nearly a Soccer Mom

I’ve already got the house in the suburbs, the dog, the swingset in the yard, and the minivan.  I figured it was time for some soccer in our lives.

Actually, it was my son. For a kid that doesn’t always seem to have a lot of body awareness, he has a real love for trying out different sports.  When we were up in Wisconsin over the summer, he got my aunt to try and teach him badminton.  Not to mention beach tennis, fishing, sailing, and swimming in the middle of the lake.

badminton

I told him he had to be able to swim with his face under water before he could try skiing.

skiing

But most recently, he has developed something of a fixation on soccer.  Neither my husband nor I are remotely athletic, and we both skipped that suburban childhood rite of passage that was the kids’ soccer team.  But wherever it came from, Daniel has decided that soccer is the thing to do.

Our local YMCA does an Introduction to Soccer class for three-to-five-year-olds.  I don’t hold any illusions that my son will learn much more than where the goal is, but it’s not too expensive, and I figure he’ll get a kick out of it.  The sheer mention of the class is enough to get him bouncing with excitement.

Here’s the thing.

My daughter? Not so interested in the soccer.  What she has latched on to is the idea of dance class.  She mentions it nearly every day.  “Mom, can I take a dancing class?”  I think it has as much to do with the outfit as the actual dancing. (She’s also Little Miss Arts-and-Crafts, and no, I don’t know exactly how I ended up with such gender stereotypes for children.)  But again, there’s a class at the Y, the price is reasonable, and I’m happy to let her explore her interests.

madame butterfly

Two kids. Different classes. They aren’t even at the same time, nor on the same day.  And this is where it begins, apparently, shuttling my kids to and from school and activities.  Mark it: age three years, three months.

This is the first time I have ever even considered signing my kids up for different classes.  For the last three years, it has been all three of us doing the same things.  I sign them up for music or gymnastics, and we ALL go.  I already started to be cut out of the equation when they started solo swimming classes in the summer, not to mention once they started preschool.  But at least they both go to swimming at the same time, they both attend the same school.

While their separate activities are on different days, they’re both weekend days. I’m hoping this can turn into not only a fun class, but an opportunity for weekend one-on-one time.  I’m a little concerned about feeling over-scheduled, but the class is only two months long, so it’s not forever.  But it seems worth the experiment, both in terms of the kids’ interests and in terms of our own time management.

So, what about you, moms (and dads)? Have you done separate activities with each child, or are you holding out? If you have, how old were your kids? What was that experience like?

A Tale of Two Classrooms

Last week, my pair of three-year-olds started preschool.

Second day of school

Did you hear that heavenly chorus bursting forth from your computer? That’s coming from my house.  Five mornings a week, we hit the car drop-off line, and in they go to their bright, beautiful Montessori classrooms.  And yes, that’s plural.  My three-year-olds are in separate classrooms.

The curriculum is designed as a longitudinal program, so the children stay in the same classroom, with the same teacher, for three years.  In large part because of that structure, the expectation is that siblings will be in separate classrooms, twins or otherwise.  I was initially a little taken aback, as I had always assumed my kids would stay together in preschool and separate later on.  But when I stopped to think about it, and thought about my own kids and how they relate to one another, I really believe that it’s the best thing for them.  (And if I hadn’t, I could have found another school, or possibly argued my case.)

My kids are reasonably close, as siblings go, but nowhere near as much as some sets of twins. I don’t say that as a good or bad thing, just as a point of fact. They play well together (until they start fighting, of course), but they don’t mind having time away from one another.  They love it when my husband and I split them up for part of the day on the weekends.  They were thrilled to move into their own bedrooms.

For my children, I think the separate classrooms work well.  My son gets a break from being bossed around by his sister, and won’t be distracted because he’s too busy poking her.  My daughter gets to come out of her brother’s more-outgoing shadow, and not spend so much time concerned with what he’s doing (and whether he’s doing it “right”).  They get to be known as individuals, instead of always being seen as a unit.  Yes, boy/girl twins have it easier in that regard than same-sex (and, especially, identical) twins.  But I still think that, when they’re together, even the most well-meaning person can tend to see them as a pair and sometimes treat them as such.  Heck, I know I do it, and I’m their mother!

And you know what? Being in separate classrooms does not seem to have phased them in the slightest. Certainly, we talked about it ahead of time, so it wasn’t a surprise when school started.  But every day, they have walked their own way with nary a backwards glance.  They sometimes find each other on the playground at the end of the morning, but not always.  They are happy to see each other at pick-up, and play together all afternoon and all weekend.  But I think they might actually like that three hours a day that is, in a sense, their own.

Oh, sure, it presents some logistical challenges for mama.  On orientation day, when parents were supposed to stay in the classrooms with their kids, I had to make sure my husband could take the morning off.  It makes me a little twitchy that I have gotten to know my son’s teacher better than my daughter’s (yes, seriously, it’s still only a few days into the year, I’ll get over it).  The two teachers do things slightly differently, which makes for a few extra things to remember, and minor conflicts when one child brings home drawings whenever they’re done, and the other is supposed to save them for Fridays.

But even just a week and a half into our first school year, I feel confident that having my kids in separate classrooms was the right call for us.

What about you? Are your kids together in school, or separate? If you haven’t hit school age yet, what do you think would work in your twins’ relationship?

Dropping the nap, two ways

Way back at the beginning of the summer, I wrote about my son’s very active desire to drop his nap.   He and I had a rough summer.  We went through a really defiant stage, and one of the ways it manifested itself was a knock-down, drag-out fight EVERY SINGLE DAY at naptime.  Even getting him to stay in his room, asleep or not, was a battle.  The kicker was how desperately he still needed the sleep.  The days he skipped it, he was a wreck.  Lack of sleep plus a super-defiant age?  Not a good combination.

At any rate, here we are in September.  The overall level of defiance has, thankfully, decreased. He doesn’t have a tantrum every day at 1pm when I suggest it’s time to go upstairs. Even still, though, he is only napping maybe 50% of the time, at best.  He’s simply too “busy.”  He has to investigate everything (despite there being very few things in his room), he has to take eight trips to the bathroom, etc.  And yes, he’s still exhausted by late afternoon.  Alas, I think this is just going to be the way it goes until, eventually, the nap is completely gone.

In the meantime, his sister has been quite the opposite – we’re halfway through lunch when she announces that she’s “bewy tired” and ready to go upstairs.  She practically tucks herself in and waits for me to come sing a song.  “How delightful!” I think to myself.  “She’s going to nap forever!”

Or will she?

Daniel’s chosen method for dropping the nap is so noticeable, he’s going about it with such brute force, that it simply commands my attention.  While I’m battling with Daniel to stay in his room, mentally pleading with him that this be the day he finally sleeps, Rebecca has been quietly finding another way.  What used to be a solid two-plus-hour nap is now consistently down to an hour and a half, at the most.  She’s still happy to go to bed, but has been sleeping for shorter and shorter periods.

I won’t lie, I like Rebecca’s method better.  It still gives me a guaranteed period of quiet time each day, and doesn’t require any convincing or cajoling.  But, of course, each method is very true to its owner.  When Daniel sees an obstacle, he wants to barrel straight through it.  Direct force.  No question what he’s trying to do.  Rebecca, on the other hand, will quietly find away around, find a chink in the armor to exploit, or try to simply convince it to step aside.  True to form.

What about you, readers? Have you noticed your pair approaching similar transitions or challenges in characteristically different ways?  Or do they seem to take a similar path to one another?

2 years, 11 months, 30 days

Tomorrow, my babies turn three.

DSC_0001

This is mind-blowing in any number of ways, of course.  But looking back on this blog, which I started back when they were six months old, one thing that really strikes me is how much the “twin thing” has changed over the last three years.

DSC_0035

The last 12 months, the centrality of their twin-ness to my parenting experience has really faded into the background. Oh, it’s still a major factor of my identity as a mom, don’t get me wrong. I will always carry that as a badge of pride, maybe as a war wound, too. I love that my kids are twins.  While they may not be as inseparable as some, they are most definitely close.  They fight, sure. They get on each other’s nerves in ways I find both exhausting and amusing.  But the last year in particular, they really have become each other’s very best playmates and have tons of fun together.  With almost no words spoken between them, a piece of rope will turn into a 20-minute game of chasing and hysterical shrieking.

At the Pond

While there will always be benefits and problems that are specific to having twins, my day-to-day life is no longer a series of unique logistical problems in the way it was that first 3, 6, 12, 18 months. Having twin newborns, infants, and young toddlers is so intense and so uniquely challenging, it makes for an entirely different experience of parenting from those who have “just” one. People are incredulous when they ask “how do you do it?”, especially because if we parented just like a singleton-parent-times-two, we’d never make it. We don’t fuss over every little thing, we simply don’t have the time.  That experience is foreign to us.

Public Garden

Today, though, I don’t think my life as a parent of two three-year-olds is nearly so different from my friend with the two-year-old and four-year-old.  Much more these days, I’m simply a parent of two children.  When people start to give the, “oh, wow, twins, that must be so hard!” reaction, they now start to backtrack and realize that it’s not so different from their life as a parent of two, even if they had them one at a time.

Bubbles

The intense difficulty of those first months has not been negated. It forever changed me, primarily in what I think are really positive ways (even if that was in a “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” kind of way).  My kids and their twin-ness will always have something special that their singleton friends don’t.  I will always proudly be a Mom of Twins.

Fishing

But I’m also just a mom of two kids, like so many others.  The specialness of my experience is fading a little bit, I’m blending in.  I’m OK with that. I’ll never forget where I came from.