Classroom Placement: Part III – Full Circle

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Categories Balance, Classroom Placement, Identical, Other people, Parenting Twins, Relationships, School-AgeTags , , , , , , , 7 Comments

This afternoon, I received an email from my daughters’ school informing me that a spot had been secured in Mrs. G’s 1st grade classroom for our daughter M. She starts Monday.

Mrs. G is a great teacher, and a warm and lovely person. I once ran into her at the grocery store and we chatted for an hour. I’ve met her granddaughter, a sweet, well-behaved little girl. In the classroom, Mrs. G is loving but firm, supportive but demanding. Still, my head began to pound as I tried to think through the repercussions of this placement.

Our daughter J, you see, is already in Mrs. G’s class. At the recommendation of J’s kindergarten teacher, and following much agonizing soul-searching, we decided to allow her to skip 75% of kindergarten and 25% of 1st grade to join Mrs. G’s class midstream. M stayed in kindergarten for a further 9 weeks, which brings us to today.

Having M skip to 1st grade mid-year is a no-brainer. The academic work is no challenge for her, and her wonderful kindergarten teacher took the time to make sure that M is emotionally ready. M even spent some time in the 1st grade classroom before the holidays to confirm that she wouldn’t be overwhelmed. My husband and I have already talked through the consequences of J being a year younger than her peers, and having one fewer year in school. The same concerns apply to M. Weighing everything, we decided to let J move on up when her teacher recommended it, and we’re simply doing the same with M. That headache has, for the most part, dulled.

The source of today’s headache is that M and J will be in the same classroom. A lot of thought went into our choosing to exercise our right to have our daughters placed in different classrooms when they entered school. In a nutshell, we thought that the girls needed to establish themselves as individuals, both in their own perception and in that of their peers. Texas state law gives us the right to demand that our daughters be separated, but I recognize that the school has already gone to lengths to accomodate the girls’ learning styles, prior education and emotional maturity.

I may be worn out by the emotional drain of trying to make the right decisions for our daughters in uncharted territory. I certainly don’t have any desire to fight the school. My husband and I spoke briefly this evening, and agreed that the basic goals of splitting the girls into separate classes had been accomplished. They have separate friends. They know that they are liked as individuals, and not just as a set. They have learned to rely on friends for companionship, and to do so without Sissy to fall back on. J and M understand that they don’t have to do everything together.

There’s an entirely new set of concerns now. Mrs. G’s class is J’s territory. Will M be treated as her own person by the other kids, or will she simply be seen as J’s twin, the target of all the attention and assumptions about twins we were trying to avoid?

The girls are a little hesitant about the change. M doesn’t want to leave her kindergarten teacher, whom she loves dearly. J isn’t quite ready to share her spot as class cutie. She was a little miffed at her classmates’ excitement when M visited last month. She told me that she felt that the girls who told M she was cute were “M’s 1st grade girls.” They usually tell J that she is cute; she’s the class clown. She didn’t say that it had upset her, but I could read between the lines. Mrs. G told me that she had sat M next to another child during the school day, but recess and lunch are a different matter.

Mrs. G is someone we trust to teach our children, so it’s time for a leap of faith. We can always request the school to place M and J in different classrooms next year.

What do you think? Should I be asking the school to accomodate M and J’s placement in separate classrooms for the rest of the school year?

Sadia and her husband parent their 5-year-old daughters in El Paso, TX as full-time volunteers. They each have income-generating careers on the side, she in IT and he in the military.

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Classroom Placement: Part II – Separate Grades

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I thought that once we’d decided that to place our twins in public school and in separate classrooms, we could sit back and let the kindergarten year unfold.

Some of you may recall that getting M and J into their kindergarten classes was a little stressful. Fortunately, both their teachers turned out to be skilled and committed educators who value their student’s individuality and learning styles.

In her second week of kindergarten, M brought home a list of her week’s homework assignments. J did not. A few days later, J told us that she was the only child in her classroom who didn’t have homework. We contacted her teacher, who informed us that she and M’s teacher didn’t think that their homework assignments would challenge them, and were working with a 1st grade teacher to get them 1st grade assignments to work on. J’s teacher hadn’t realized that M’s teacher had given her kindergarten assignments in the interim.

Before long, J’s teacher told us that both teachers would talk to the school administration about whether moving J and M to 1st grade would be a possibility. I panicked. I didn’t think my husband and I could look at this development objectively. He had been held back in kindergarten, and felt that he was worse off for it. It didn’t help that being held back put him in the same grade as his younger sister. My parents had turned down an opportunity for me to skip 5th grade, and I firmly believe I’m better off for completing school with my same-age peers. I couldn’t see any middle ground, and we were both solid in our beliefs. I took a less-than-mature route, and avoided thinking about the whole thing. Out of mind, out of mind.

As the first 9-week quarter drew to a close, J’s teacher told us that the principal had given J’s advancement to 1st grade her blessing. The decision was ours to make. M’s teacher, on the other hand, told us that she would like to keep M in her kindergarten class. While the academics were no challenge for M, she needed to work on time management. M inherits from me a degree of perfectionism that can be paralyzing. In her efforts to get everything absolutely right, she was having trouble completing her work. Her teacher felt that a year doing schoolwork that came easily to her would help her confidence and her ability to finish things on time.

To me, that answer was clear. There was no way I was splitting my twins into different grades. I spoke to my mommy friends, and they were all of the same mind. Whatever benefit J gleaned from skipping ahead could just as easily be accomplished by providing challenges at home. The potential impact to M’s self-esteem wasn’t worth it. This was a long-term fix for a short-term problem. It wasn’t like J was disruptive in class, or any less interested in learning than she had been before. Skipping the remainder of kindergarten would mean that J would be graduating from high school a year before her twin. No way.

My husband, however, didn’t see it that way. To him, the girls’ twinhood should be a non-issue. The question was not whether J should leave M behind, but whether J would do well in 1st grade. If J wasn’t ready to go to college at 17, she could do an extra high school year.

We went around and around. I wrote up all 19 parts of my argument so that he could respond to each one. He wrote up his 4-point perspective. We both kept “healthy, happy and whole” adulthood for our daughters at the forefront of our minds. Finally, I gave in. I hadn’t changed my mind, but he was much surer in his stance. His belief that J would benefit from being skipped ahead was stronger than my fears of harm coming to both our daughters. The argument that turned me was my husband’s statement that we shouldn’t let our fears hold our kids back when they were willing to try something new.

There was also part of me that gave in because my husband’s duties as a soldier means he rarely has a say in child-rearing decisions. He has been overseas more than he has been home in our children’s lifetime. I make most parenting decisions solo. I try to include him in big decisions, but I often can’t reach him, and whether something is a big decision or not is my call. My mother-in-law is my backup co-parent, but in this case, mommy and grandma came down on one side, and daddy and grampy on the other.

It’s been nearly two weeks now that our twins have been in different grades.

M is flourishing. She and J no longer share recess, and her confidence and self-discipline have blossomed with the realization that J’s old kindergarten classmates are her friends, not just because she’s J’s sister, but in her own right. Because she is the only child in her class who can already read, M gets to be her teacher’s special helper. J gets out of school 45 minutes later than M, so the two of us have a 45-minute block every day that is ours alone, for M to tell me about her day, for us to read to each other, for M to get her extravert time in.

J is doing pretty well. I realized yesterday that she’s unaware that she was the only child to transition classes this quarter, and we’re electing to keep her in the dark. She could use some modesty. They did have to find a new desk for her. She couldn’t see over the ones already in the room. She’s a head and a half shorter than her classmates.

Still, she’s made friends, and is learning that she isn’t always the best at everything. This afternoon was graced with an hour-long tear-storm because J had come in second in her classroom spelling bee. She had wanted to win. While I didn’t exactly enjoy that hour, I think it was good for J to learn that sometimes doing one’s best needs to be a reward in itself.

What with their different grades, their different schedules, and their different haircuts, J and M are definitely not perceived as “the twins” at school. Each of them is seen, liked, and valued for who she is.

I’m not completely convinced that this was the right decision. I spoke to an old classmate from elementary school. He and his twin skipped grades at different times. His message to me read, in part, “On a high level, the pros are that each twin develops their own circle of friends (sometimes overlapping) and that gives each of them a sense of independence. The cons are that the twin that skips usually uses it to create an air of superiority over the other twin (kids being kids and all).”

What would you have done in our shoes?

Sadia earns her paycheck doing geeky stuff at a university. The rest of her time is devoted to raising her 5-year identical girls J and M with her US soldier husband. She’s not sure where she’s from, but possesses British and Bangladeshi passports and an American green card. The family is still finding their way around their new home in El Paso, Texas.

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Classroom Placement: Part I – Separate Classrooms

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Categories Classroom Placement, Parenting Twins, School-AgeTags , , , , , , , , , 7 Comments

Who knows best whether your multiples should be placed in the same classroom or separated at school? You, right? For our family, separation in kindergarten was the right answer, but it’s different for everyone.

Many educators and school administrators believe that same-age siblings should never be placed in a classroom together. I would argue that there is no one-size-fits-all solution that applies to all multiples. “Never say never,” I say. Like many other parents of multiples, it is my husband and I who know our daughters well enough to make the final decision regarding their classroom placement. Coming to an agreement as co-parents is an altogether different matter, as I’ll talk about next week…

We are fortunate to live in Texas, one of the 12 US states whose laws give parents the right to choose whether our multiples should stay together in public school. Oklahoma and Illinois have resolutions to the same effect. (As I understand it, resolutions involve moral rather than legal support from lawmakers, but I suspect Mommy, Esq. could give us a clearer explanation.) Another 10 states have sponsors for such bills. I wasn’t able to find information on similar laws in other countries, but my research made it clear that neither Canada nor the UK have such protections in place. Readers elsewhere in the world, where does your country stand?

Our daughters were in the same class from infancy until pre-kindergarten. Their preschool had only one class per age group, so we didn’t have the option of separating. There was one disastrous year at a larger program where we could have elected to split them up, but we kept them together there. A new school with Daddy leaving for Korea seemed shakeup enough, and we thought our 2-year-olds would be better off together.

Until relatively recently, I figured we’d keep the girls in the same classroom until they wanted to split up. By all accounts, they were well-adjusted and played with both each other and other classmates. They are horrified at the thought of having separate bedrooms, so I couldn’t imagine they’d consider separate classrooms.

The first time I considered separating J and M early was after talking to a friend. She and her twin sister had gone to college with me. My friend told me that separating them in elementary school was the best thing her parents had done for her. Because both she and her sister were in honours classes and heavily involved in their school music program, they ended up in a lot of same classes in high school by default. Elementary school was their opportunity to make friends as individuals instead of a twin pair, and that was when they grew to be as comfortable as individuals as they were as twins. She and her sister have the sort of relationship I hope my girls will have decades from now. They are close, yet pursue separate interests and have both shared and separate friends. One is married, and the other is not. I spent three years at college with these sisters, and had plenty of opportunities to witness their relationship, and my friend’s opinion carried a lot of weight.

I thought about keeping M and J together in kindergarten and separating them later in elementary school, but by the end of pre-K it was clear to both me and my husband that they should be in separate classrooms. After having been the dominant sister on and off over the years, M was depending increasingly on J. We got reports from school that M was expressing jealousy when J played with other friends. Worst of all, I noticed that M was taking less of an interest in reading independently because, “Sissy’s the good reader.” J, on the other hand, was oblivious to this, and balancing her relationship with M with her separate friendships and activities as she always has.

If this were the girls’ first foray out into the world without us, I might have considered keeping them in a single classroom anyway. After 5 years in daycare, though, they seemed ready to separate. We told the girls several weeks before school started that we would be asking the school to assign them different teachers. Neither of them expressed disappointment, or even surprise. M reported that she was a little sad about missing Sissy early on the first day of school, but their classes shared recess, lunch and PE. J said the best part of the day was seeing Sissy at the bus at the end of the day. Each of our girls introduced the other to her new friends, and they were able to be the bridge between the classes—at least the girls—on the playground.

For us, the choice to separate our girls was the right one. I’m glad it was ours to make. I don’t want an administrator who has never even met them dictating their placement based on preconceptions about multiples. After all, the twin bond is an extraordinary thing, but many who have never witnessed it consider it aberrant. I’ll admit that I held my own stereotypes about twins before M and J were born. I was convinced that fostering their independence and separate identities would be the biggest challenge of raising twins. They soon taught me that twinship was a gift, not a curse.

Have you thought about whether you want your multiples together or apart in school? What factors play into your decision?

What were your preconceptions of twinship before you met your newborns?

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can i make my twins wear Thing 1 and Thing 2 shirts?

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Categories Ask the Readers, Identical, Mommy Issues, Multiple Types, Other people, Parenting Twins, Relationships, School-AgeTags , , , , , , 9 Comments

Nearly everyone has an opinion about dressing twins alike. (Mine? It’s adorable when they’re little, but a luxury people who dress mostly in hand-me-downs can rarely afford!) My boys have a handful of matched shirts — gifts from their grandma, or the fruit of a Target clearance rack. Every so often they like to dress alike, and cackle together about their plans to confuse people. For the most part, though, they dress in totally different things.

It has not helped people tell them apart, except that once a person asks, “Are you G or P?” he or she can keep track more easily for the rest of the day.

All last school year they had different haircuts, but still very few of their classmates and teachers could remember who was who.

This year they have a wonderful teacher I trust. I know he cares about them as individuals, and is working hard to learn to tell them apart. They have the same haircut now, and it obscures the two easiest “tells” — their different hairlines, and a fading scar on one boy’s forehead.

As I said last year in one of my many *upset* posts [that got me crying again reading it now],

…my little boys …are actual peoplewho 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?

So I’m trying to help their teacher (and them) out, by color-coding them. G in green or grey, and P in blue.

Problem is, they don’t always want to wear their assigned colors. They understand why we’re doing this, but sometimes P wants to wear the grey shirt. Or they both want to wear blue shirts. I’m only comfortable pushing this up to a point.

What are your thoughts on this? My boys are 7. How hard should I push them to wear color-coded clothes to school? I feel like I am crossing some sort of civil rights line in the sand when I tell P he has to save his grey shirt for the weekend and wear the blue one like I asked.
Jen is a work-from-home mom of 7-year-old twin boys, and two girls ages 4.5 and 9. She also blogs at Minivan MacGyver, where she teaches readers how to survive various life crises with materials commonly found in a 5-door family vehicle with seating for 7.

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doubling my pleasure at school, take two

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Categories Development, Identical, Mommy Issues, Multiple Types, Other people, Parenting Twins, Pregnancy, Relationships, Safety, School-AgeTags , , , , , , , 6 Comments

When I last posted at HDYDI, it was April and I was speaking with the school principal about my concerns that my twins’ placement testing results had been mixed up, and also that their teachers couldn’t tell who was whom even though they had different haircuts and didn’t dress in matching clothes. And their teachers laughed this off and weren’t interested in my efforts to make telling the boys apart easier.

In kindergarten, P was assigned to an intervention reading group. G was in a higher-level group, but he didn’t read for me at home, and P did. After I asked the teacher several times whether their files may have been confused, she wrote me after winter break and said P had accelerated quickly and had been placed in a higher group than G, and he was moved up again several weeks later. Because I believed she had confused them, giving intervention services to a child who didn’t need them rather than the child who did, and because I felt I wasn’t getting straight answers from their teacher, I worried about their progress for the entire year.

From the moment we found out we were having twins, everything was scary. The statistics are terrifying. The books said I’d lost 20 valuable weeks that I could have spent packing on body fat to sustain the babies in late pregnancy, when I wouldn’t be able to eat as much. I’d been having Braxton-Hicks contractions since 16 or 17 weeks – my doctor didn’t feel that was a good sign. From week 20, when I found out, to week 37 when I delivered my twins, every day and every contraction and nearly every moment was tinged with worry.

I think it’s that way for most of us. I am very lucky, in that I got to stop worrying about my boys’ physical health quickly after they were born.

Now I worry about whether people are able to see them and treat them as individuals, and how the boys feel about being individuals. I worry about how painful it will be when they eventually separate. I worry that their speech problems prevent them from volunteering in class, and that they may eventually get picked on because of them. I worry about P being bored, and G being left behind, because a teacher made a mistake and wouldn’t own up to it.

In our district the kids are given standardized tests so teachers and parents can track a child’s growth throughout the school year and from year to year, to make sure a kid is progressing. Last week I went to the school and requested their scores. The principal came out and sat beside me and handed me a post-it note on which she’d jotted their scores. Tears welled up in my eyes.

They both made great strides last year. They’re both above average. They are normal and doing fine, and oh, it is wonderful to have plain old normal kids who are doing fine!

I cried because I am so grateful that I can stop worrying about their academic progress. I also cried because the scores confirmed that my boys were placed in the wrong reading groups last year. Their math scores were identical, but their reading scores were drastically different. My little boy who struggles with reading spent months in a group that was way over his head, and his self-confidence shows it.

 

Jen is a work-from-home mom of 7-year-old twin boys, and two girls ages 4.5 and 9. 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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To Talk or Not To Talk

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Categories Other people, Parenting TwinsTags 18 Comments

In those first few crazy, housebound, sleep deprived months after we brought home our twin boys, what saved me was knowing I was not alone. I love reading blogs about fellow multiple mamas and have learned a lot from the  HDYDI community. Fast forward 17 months, and the challenges have changed just when I was getting the hang of life with babies.  My name is B., and I’m excited to have the opportunity to guest post here.  You can read more about life with my boys at  http://littlegrovers.blogspot.com/.

When you have multiples, you become a mini celebrity.  As soon as people spot the double (or more) stroller, they want to see the babies and ask a few questions.  Now who doesn’t want to show their babies off?  Ummm, sometimes I don’t feel like stopping to talk.  Chalk it up to chronic sleep deprivation and feeling like I’m always on a clock counting down the minutes of happy toddler time to hungry/tired/grumpy toddler time.

Everybody says the exact. same. thing.

“Ohh!  Twins!”
Mmm hmmm.
“A girl and a boy?”
Actually two boys.  Dressed in all navy, green and generally masculine colours.
“Oh they look EXACTLY the same!”
Well, they are brothers so there are some similarities, but they are fraternal. Blankstare.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              They are not identical twins.
“Did you have fertility treatment? That IVF stuff?”
No.  Actually I did but I don’t discuss personal stuff with total strangers.  Unless it’s on my blog.
“You’ve got your hands full”  OR “Double trouble!”
OK.  See ya.

Now up til now, these conversations are a minor annoyance at worst and at best I can appreciate a friendly chat with neighbours.  But now that my toddlers are comprehending more I’m concerned about what they’re learning from all this.  Are they thinking: “Do I look the same as my brother?  Do I look like a girl?  Am I a lot of trouble for my mommy?”  Do I need to clarify these things for them?  I don’t want to argue with a stranger about whether my boys look alike, but I want my boys to know that they are both their own little people.  And they look like little boys. And though they can be trouble, I consider myself very blessed.

There’s a lady in my neighbourhood with quadruplets and one older child. I pulled my stroller over to let her pass with her enormous stroller on the sidewalk and heard myself say;
“You’ve got your hands full”.
I couldn’t believe those words came out of my mouth when I hear it multiple times a day and hate it!  Sheesh.  I still cringe thinking about it.

How do you respond to strangers comments about your multiples? When they ask if you had fertility treatment? When they comment on your kids gender incorrectly? Or insist that they look the same when they don’t?

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i take my school-related concerns to the next level

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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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let's collaborate on a tip sheet re: why it's important that my child's teachers can recognize him

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Categories Ask the Moms, Childcare, Other people, Parenting Twins, Relationships, School-AgeTags , , 21 Comments

Thank you for all of your advice and support after my last post[-ing binge], regarding my suspicions that my boys’ kindergarten teacher has mixed them up more times than is really excusable.

After taking some time to cool down, I’ve decided:

  1. Their teacher is a good teacher. She is kind, she works really hard, and she cares about the kids.
  2. Ignorance regarding the importance of facial recognition seems to be widespread.

To turn this into a useful experience, I’ve decided to compose a letter/pamphlet/flyer/something to hand over to the principal or the local board of education, that explains why it is so important to learn to identify look-alike twins, triplets, etc. by sight.

I’d also like to touch upon some tips or information along the lines of: What do I wish my kids’ teacher/s knew going into the school year?

If any of you have experience putting your multiples in daycare, preschool, camp, elementary school, or beyond, please comment (or email, if you’re shy) with your tips and suggestions. Or share ideas based on your own experiences, if you are a twin or triplet.

My email is jen.diagnosisurine at gmail.com, but consider posting a comment because your thoughts might spark some ideas for other readers. It would be great if we could come up with a piece that we all could use as we’re putting our children in new situations.

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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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