i take my school-related concerns to the next level

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Categories Identical, Other people, Parenting Twins, School-AgeTags , , , , , 8 Comments

Internet, today I sent my boys back to school after spring break. And I hated it.

If you’ve met me [online] or my children [in real life] you know how odd it is for me to want them in the house more. They yell. They chase. They maraud. They fight. They plunder. I reupholstered my dining room chairs in December, and the new vinyl is already shredded. Yesterday my son yanked the pull chain out of a floor lamp because he was angry. Someone stabbed a hole in my (p)leather ottoman just to see what would happen. Life with my kids at home is non-stop destruction.

My boys got haircuts over the weekend, and they wanted the same thing. Afterward, they fooled their sisters. A bit later, they confused their dad. The next morning, in my early-morning sleep haze, I had a brief conversation with P but thought he was G for most of it. Sending them to school looking identical didn’t mesh with my primary objective for the day, which was to contact their principal about my concerns.

To review:

  1. I suspect the boys might have been switched during placement testing.
  2. My boys told me their teacher mixes them up all the time.
  3. The school asks parents to provide a photo of their child along with any medication, to ensure it’s given to the right child. As if that would help.
  4. The combination of these three things irritated me quite a bit.

So this morning I called the principal. Because I’m one of the most awkward people not officially diagnosed with Asperger’s, I stuttered and stammered through the call and I’m not sure she knew what I wanted. So later I wrote her an email to make sure I communicated effectively. I totally sucked up at the end of it because I’m really worried this will turn into their teacher not liking them as well and therefore not being as nice to them.

Tonight at bedtime I asked G if anyone had said anything about he and his brother looking more alike today. He said no, they just said, “Griff-Peter.” [For this example, pretend my boys’ names are Griffin and Peter.] I quizzed him, and according to him everyone called them a hybrid name all day long. I’m not sure that’s true, but it’s what he said.

Jen is a work-from-home mom of 6-year-old twin boys, and two girls ages 4 and 8. She also blogs at Minivan MacGyver, where she alternates between waxing nostalgic over her children’s toddler years, and despairing over the amount of work still required for their upkeep.

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Ranting Update On My Evolving Feelings About the Boys’ Teachers

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Categories Classroom Placement, Other people, Parenting Twins, Relationships, School-AgeTags , , , , 28 Comments

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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“What Does It Matter…?”

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Categories Identical, Multiple Types, Other people, School-AgeTags , , 19 Comments

“What does it matter if she mixes them up? They look just alike.” – my grandmother, regarding my safeguards against confusing our infant twins

Normally I’m not too hard on people who say “stupid” things about twins. I say a lot of stupid things myself. But today I shall regale you with a tale of the twins’ student teacher.

Two weeks ago Haney and I were in for our usual Friday afternoon “Look! I’m a good mother!” visit. The student teacher sat down with me as I traced and cut masks, gestured to Haney, and said, “You had twins, then she didn’t come a twin?”

Um…? Possible answers:

a)      No, she didn’t.
b)      Yes, she actually did “come a twin…” [beginning to weep]
c)       OH MY GOSH, I left the other one in the car!
d)      Yes, but I don’t like that one so I only bring this one.

Fortunately, in my case the answer is “a.” To which the student teacher responded, “Huh. That’s strange. Usually when people have twins once, they have more twins.”

I started to wonder whether she was asking if I’d used fertility treatments to conceive. I pointed out that we actually have two singletons. I was relieved when she was needed by the kids’ actual teacher.

Last Friday we were in again. Keep in mind that this woman has been with the class since early January. Also, I’ve attached my boys’ school pictures as a visual reference. Would you think these kids were twins if you saw them among 21 other children?

Exhibit A

The student teacher sought me out to tell me, “I still have no idea who is who between your boys. They’re always correcting me when I call them the wrong name.”

ME: We thought the different haircuts would make it pretty easy.
HER: Yeah, I don’t know… One day I was so mixed up because they both wore the same color shirt.
ME: Mmm.

We do mix up our boys when they have the same haircut – we have to look at them straight on to tell who’s who. And I can’t tell my friend’s boys apart without obnoxiously getting up in their faces to look for a telltale mole. I’m not judging people who can’t tell identical twins apart.

But my boys haven’t been identical-looking for any part of this school year. They don’t wear matching clothes, and we’ve maintained the drastically different haircuts to make it easy on their teachers. This woman has been spending 30 hours a week with them for more than a month now. What say you, internets? Is this a reasonably difficult skill to master? Or is this situation the result of laziness: she hasn’t bothered to learn students’ names, but in the case of my sons she feels she has an excuse to admit it?

Jen is a work-from-home mom of 6-year-old twin boys, and two girls ages 4 and 8. She also blogs at Minivan MacGyver, where she chronicles the many disasters narrowly averted using only her pluck and the assortment of household objects found in her 2001 Pontiac Montana.

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How do you help other people tell your multiples apart?

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Categories Family, Identical, Other peopleTags , , , , 21 Comments
Our Little Girls Wearing Pink and Yellow Dresses

Last weekend, we were at a family wedding and some other related family events. Of course, everyone wanted to know which baby was which.  This is a common question since we have identical twin girls, who look very much alike. Friday night, one baby was wearing a pink outfit, and I knew she’d have a pink dress on Saturday for the wedding, and it would be easy to dress her in pink on Sunday morning so I let people know she’d be the baby wearing pink all weekend. Her sister wore yellow and green. They are only 8 months old, so they couldn’t complain about my clothing choices. But, it raised the question of how you help other people identify your multiples.

Right now, we (Mom, Dad and the few other people who can tell them apart) have a few ways to tell the girls apart but they are based on:

  • Comparisons – when both babies are together you can see that one is a little bigger, but when they are separate this doesn’t really work
  • Context – at mealtime one of the babies is usually more interested in food than her sister, so this only works when they’re eating and it isn’t really reliable
  • Temporary characteristics – right now one baby has 2 teeth and her sister doesn’t have any yet, but that will change soon
  • Artificial characteristics – we painted one baby’s toenails pink when she came home from the hospital so we wouldn’t mix them up

I rely on the girls’ birthmarks to help me tell them apart, but those are starting to fade and are only visible from some angles.  So, we’re thinking about assigning each girl a colour (probably pink and yellow) and then making sure we dress them in those colours, at least when anyone else is around.  I’m concerned that doing this will make it easy for people to rely on their outfits to tell them apart rather than focusing on what makes them unique individuals.  But, I also want the girls to feel they are welcome and included and that people know who they are. Maybe assigning them colours will make it easier for people to focus on the babies as individuals because they will know who is who.

I do see some potential problems with this approach:

  • Most of the girls’ clothing was received as gifts or hand-me-downs so I don’t have a lot of control over what is in their dresser
  • I think I’d have to assign groups of colours to each baby (pink/purple/blue and yellow/green/white) because they have lots of clothing that isn’t pink or yellow, which could get confusing
  • The feminist in me has problems with dressing baby girls only in pink clothing
  • At some point they are going to want to make their own clothing choices

I guess the biggest issue is that really have problems making my parenting decisions based on what’s best for everyone else rather than what’s best for my children. So, is assigning each baby a colour a decision that will be good for them or not?  Can anyone share their experiences with this issue or other ways to help family and friends tell your multiples apart?

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In favor of laziness.

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Categories Mommy IssuesTags 7 Comments

Daddy and the little kids.

I used to be one of those moms who always, ALWAYS dressed her twins alike. I know it’s frowned upon. I know I should be pushing them to be their own unique selves. But they’re just so darned CUTE in their matchy-match clothes! I even had matching pajamas for them, just in case I decided to take pictures at the breakfast table, I guess.

Something changed within me, though. I started to let my kids pick out their own clothes. It happened a few months ago, and I’m not even sure what led to it – probably just the kids getting older, I guess. They just hit the dresser and put together outfits that THEY like – and I’m totally okay with it! We even go out in public dressed in crazy, weather-inappropriate attire, and it doesn’t bug me at all. They’re loving it, and I love not obsessing over their clothes anymore.

What are your feelings on dressing kids alike? How often do your twins wear matching outfits?

Note: I wrote this post way back on August 15th, but stupidly hit “save” instead of “publish” – and now I see that another of our talented authors has written a post about dressing twins alike. I swear, I’m not copying, teacher! I couldn’t see “wasting” my post, though, so here it is.

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Jason and I have chosen (prior to finding out if they were I or F) NOT to dress the girls inLook Ma, No Matching! the same outfits. He is adamantly against it, due to the traumatizing effect that being dressed exactly like his younger brother, who was the same size but three years younger, had on him. I think it’s better to dress them differently to support individuality. Friends and family have all warned me that I’ll be sorry in years to come when the girls start talking and oh yeah, fighting over clothes. Oh boy. Can’t. Wait. We shall see if that’s what really happens or not. Just in case, I have bought clothes that are similar, but different colors or patterns. The way I figure it, I’m not going to designate who’s clothing is who’s, I’ll let them figure it out and if there are any issues I will do my best to keep it civil. What’s the worst that could happen?

So what about your family? Do you dress your twins alike? Are your twins fraternal or identical? Though, apparently, identical twins aren’t that identical anyway!

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