4.25.2017

On Having School Aged Twins










The last week I have found myself wishing that there were more blogs and forums for moms of older twins. We face issues that are so different than those with younger twins, but equally as consuming. I would love to pick another mom's brain about different classrooms, birthday parties, how to help them navigate their unique relationship...

But most moms of twins tend to share less and less as time goes on with their twins, for good reason, to protect their children's privacy.  While I understand that, I am struggling to find any information on classroom placement that is for any grade higher than second.  

God bless Josh for helping them, every night, to memorize their multiplication facts!
We are close to wrapping up the twins' first year in public school.  They've spent all of third grade in separate classrooms, making different friends, learning from different teachers and having different experiences.  I think this has been so good for them.  I think it has allowed them to each build confidence in themselves, and has given them the chance to spread their wings a little bit.

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When the twins were babies & toddlers, I hated people who would walk by and say, "Double trouble."  Now that they are nearly nine years old, I don't hear "double trouble" anymore.  Now I am mostly only annoyed by people asking them if they ever switch spots at school.  I hate the idea of them trying to trick people, and I wish grown adults wouldn't suggest they do it.  I hate it for two reasons.  One reason is that it's naughty, and I don't appreciate perfect strangers asking my kids if they're done something really naughty.  The other reason, though, is that to me (and hopefully to the twins themselves) they are not interchangeable.  Jack can't just take Logan's place.  Jack is his own person. And despite the fact that Logan has his face, he's himself.  He has his own essence, his own personality, his own place in this world. And vice versa. 

Other than asking about swapping places, people tend to just ask if they're twins and sometimes even if Wyatt is their triplet.  The boys all make me proud, answering kindly, with no sarcasm and no annoyance.  I hope they maintain that kindness forever. 

Other than school issues, I am struggling also with walking them through life as a twin, while I myself am not a twin.  I grew up being inherently myself.  I never struggled to know who I was.  Shelly:  People pleaser. Bookworm. Good student. Kind girl.  Now as a mom I hate not knowing what's right for my boys.  How much do I push to make them to involve each other? Or to share?  When do I need to let them have space? How much space do they need? Should all items be "shared" items, or do they need some things that are only "theirs"?  How do I let Logan be Logan and Jack be Jack without allowing their twin to feel excluded from that sense of identity?

When it comes to homework or chores, I know exactly what the right answer is. 

Do your best.
Try again.
Don't give up.

Work harder.
Be part of the team.
Do a job well.

But when it comes to navigating the relationship when one brother is being clingy and another needs space, I feel completely lost. Grasping for what might be the right answer. Praying that whatever I do is right, and won't ruin forever the relationship they're growing. 

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In addition to this year being their first in public school, we have also faced our first medical issues beyond shots & runny noses.  In October Logan had a seizure in the cafeteria during lunch that lead to him eventually being diagnosed with epilepsy.  Following his second seizure in January of this year, his neurologist ordered him anti-seizure meds as well as a follow up MRI. 

When we found out about Logan's epilepsy diagnosis (based on an abnormal EEG), I held it together for weeks.  We had medication adjustments to make and follow up appointments to set, and really, I never let myself stop and feel anything.  

Finally I broke down and cried over it. 

Is it the end of the world? No. It could be so much worse.  Most likely Logan will not be adversely effected by his epilepsy diagnosis.  It will make dental work annoying (dentists HATE epileptics), and he'll have to always make sure he takes his meds, but other than that, it really shouldn't impact him.  I forgot many times as we navigated this new road that my own husband has epilepsy.  And truly the most frustrating part of him having it is remembering his medication when we travel. That's it. Pretty small in the grand scheme of things.

But regardless of how small it is, it is something I wish my child didn't have, so feeling my feelings about that was important and I'm glad they finally bubbled to the surface.

Logan being brave, getting prepped for his MRI.
Double thumbs up!!


I swear I had just come to terms with his epilepsy diagnosis when I got the call that his follow up MRI, which I had scheduled and attended quite nonchalantly, showed another abnormality.  Type 1 Arnold Chiari Malformation.  

There are times when having twins is just fun.  But there are other times when having twins (particularly identical twins) is just plain scary.  Does Jack have Chiari Malformation?  Will Jack eventually have epilepsy as well? We just don't know.  Many illnesses have been studied for heredity, but not all.  And even if there is a correlation, it's rarely true that a disorder is 100% concordant.  In short, there are no definite answers.  That said, I am anxious for our appointment with the neurologist in early May because I do think he will be able to shed at least some light on whether or not we need to be concerned for Jack at this point.

***

As time continues for our family, and especially as I struggle to chase Carly around the house and when we're out and about, I find myself more and more thankful I got twins first. I was nearly ten years younger, then, just turning 25 when they were born, and honestly, I didn't know any different, so having two babies at once felt normal.  As for now, I will admit, them having each other allows me to let them go in ways I never would if they were singletons. I give them more freedom (like going to the bathroom without me at the store, or riding half way to school) than I would if they were my first born and they didn't have one another.


Looking ahead to next year, as I said, we are considering putting them in the same class because Jack's teacher is moving up to the fourth grade and I adore her. In addition to liking her so much, I love that she already knows Jack & Logan, knows Logan's story of how his epilepsy came about, and is amazing at communicating even the tiniest details to me, which I love.  

That said, I worry that having them in the same class would increase their sense of competition as well as create issues for them with problem-solving in a classroom, when they are only used to dealing with one another at home, in a much more casual setting.  (Translation: I am worried they will wrestle in class or punch one another when they're fighting. Hah!)

So while I wait to meet with their teachers to discuss pros & cons, I am praying. And if you have any thoughts on what we should decide, I'd love to hear any opinions!

I love this quote I found on twins.  
It explains, perhaps, why I struggle so much with parenting mine.

"Both the rivalry and the closeness may be fueled by the same thing: alikeness... You want to be treated the same and you want to be treated differently.  You want to be alike and you want to distinguish yourself."
-Klagsbrun

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4 comments:

Krista said...

Whee, I have a lot of thoughts on this! ;) My oldest is 10 so just a bit above yours and I think the older you get in the classroom the less you interact with your peers in the same way you do as in a younger classroom. Honestly, maybe you should ask them what they want? If they both want to try a year together again, let them. There's nothing that says you can't move one mid-year if there's a major problem, or that they won't decide they want to be in different classrooms again the following year. I don't think it's truly something you need to stress about and especially if the teacher is on board with it and willing to let them be their unique individual selves I don't think you have much to lose.

It might also actually help people learn to tell them apart better. I had friends in high school that were twins and I couldn't tell them apart at all until I ended up having a bunch of classes and sports with just one of them.

As for the twin thing, that's a whole different can of worms! I'm trying, with my girls, to get them to act like friends, to not demand something of the other (like a toy, or an activity or even personal space) just because they are twins, but to treat them more like I do the boys, making them respect each other. They really do live in their own little world and get along SO well most of the time.

I try to treat them fairly as they are still pretty little now and at just turned 5 have a hard time if one gets something the other doesn't. But I don't always get them the exact same thing. I want them to have their own interests too. (We have erred on the side of really not making them share anything other than very large things that we don't need two of, like the dollhouse) I think for me I try to treat them as if they were just really close siblings and not expect them to do something just because they're twins. You're right, while they share a lot of similarities, mine even some in personality, they are NOT interchangeable!

One last thing, especially with the medical things, now that you live in Washington you should sign them up for the University of Washington twin database. The girls are signed up as well as my husband and his twin sister (only one twin has to live in the state) and they do research that they will contact you about if they need you, but they might also have resources for you to look into.

There you go, my 15 cents, you can take it or leave it as you wish. ;) And maybe in a few more years I'll be asking you about the sharing classroom thing!

Lisa Miller said...

Hey Shellie,

First, I love reading your blogs. You have an amazing way of sharing your insights, concerns, humor, etc.

I remember when Jack and Logan were babies and I came over to "help out" which really meant that I got to hold and cuddle with a baby the whole time we visited. I miss you, but I'm so glad you're family is settled and happy.

I will offer a little insight from the perspective of being an identical twin. I remember being the "left out" twin when my sister had a friend over, but I also remember having one of my friends over and wanting her all to myself. I'm sure my sister felt left out then as well. My mom did not step in to make us include the other. When I look back on these times, I completely understand the feelings both my sister and I had to be independent and have our own friends. But just as strongly, I remember feeling left out. That being said, I still think each twin needs his own space and to make some decisions on his own. Not all things should be shared. My sister and I always loved one another, and that love was more present at times than other times.

When we entered high school, we became closer friends. I didn't realize how important that friendship was until later in adulthood. We are very close now. However, I'm glad we were able to be independent at a young age. When I feel badly for excluding my sister when we were in grade school, it makes me care more about her now. However, I'm thankful for the opportunities we had to be independent people. Differences will arise. My sister did a little bit better in school than me. I had more friends that she did. We were independent people despite the fact that we looked exactly alike.

As far as being in the same class, I'm not sure. If there is another 4th grade teacher that is good, I would separate them. I think spending all day together and then all night together may be too much. And you may be right, they may deal with each other in school like they do at home, play fighting. :-) However, I only have my experience to go by. You are their mother and know them best. If being in the same class seems right, go for it.

My sister and I still get asked if we are twins when we are out together. We usually reply, "Yes, but it's not as cute at this age." ha ha!

Missing you, Lisa.

alisonroyturner said...

I love your blog too!

I don't have any twin experience, but I did ask my friend (she is 26, and has a twin brother....obviously different than your boys being identical). She said they were always in different classes and would keep it that way.

I can share my experience with having two cousins in my Girl Scout Troop (they are in the same grade, but different schools....though they do spend a lot of time together every week). They argue and fight (like sisters) in our troop meetings and it is very disrupting. I have had to talk with the girls many times about the way they interact, that in our Troop Meeting they are Girl Scout Sisters and may not be bickering cousins......nearly 2 years in, and not much has changed.

So I completely understand your worry about how they will deal with each other as classmates.

chicks3 said...

Have you considered letting Logan have his year with this special teacher? That would extend your relationship with her and still allow for independence with the boys. We usually tried to separate twins at the school where I taught. It gave them each a few hours to be their own person. On the playground they had the benefit of friends from each other's classes.