The first marking period is over. Parent-teacher conferences were Friday. I feel it is a fair time to report on the progress of the recent classroom split of our 9 year-old identical twin daughters. For the whole story, click on the following links in consecutive order:
At conferences, we learned that even though Sydney is an excellent student, she could benefit from challenging herself more.
This was never the case when she was in the same classroom as her twin. Their innate sense of sibling rivalry drove Sydney to perform her very best.
We were shocked to hear Taylor was very quiet – “almost shy” – in the classroom. Her teacher urged us to encourage her to exhibit more social confidence.
This was never the case when she was in the same classroom as her twin. Taylor’s previous teachers described her as chatty and eager to be part of classroom conversation.
After listening to both 3rd grade teachers tell me about their students, I posed the same question about each of my daughters:
“Do you see any evidence that being split from her twin is affecting her in a negative way?”
Both of their answers were the same:
“You would never know the split was an issue in the first place.”
Both times I received this answer I closed my eyes, pursed my lips (just in case biting my tounge wasn’t a fool-proof method for keeping my mouth shut) and exhaled deeply. As I did this, I nodded my head slowly in agreement – willing myself to believe that I would continue to get my girls where they needed to be. Because it was obvious that I was the only person that was still concerned for them.
I’ve already accepted the split – that was not the source of my frustration. I was even happy to hear that the girls appear to be doing well at school.
But here’s the whole truth. The real truth.
The split was hard for them. The split continues to be hard for them. Even though it’s not obvious to people that don’t know them before the split, it is very obvious to those of us that do. This is what I’ve seen at home:
- Taylor’s work is perfect. Like scary perfect. She spends so much time on her homework now that we fight because I tell her enough is enough.
- Sydney’s work is lazy and sloppy. We fight because I tell her she is capable of doing more.
- Since the split, they want to look the same. Same hair. Same glasses. Yesterday they wore the same uniform. Over the weekend they chose to buy the same Spartan shirt for the MSU tailgate. The other day Sydney was thrilled when Craig mistook her for Taylor. They used to revel in their individuality – now they take great joy in being identical.
- Taylor has suffered from nightmares. She dreams about something horrible happening at the school (a tornado, a hurricane, etc.) and she can’t get to Sydney. Finally they are back home together where they “are safe.”
- Last night the girls cleaned their entire shared bathroom – drawers, cabinets, everything. They told me it was because they’re getting ready to move back in together the next time their Grandpa comes to help them. Taylor has wanted this to happen since the moment she found out about the split. Sydney had resisted – until now.
The point of this blog is not to complain.
I am not trying to bash the school or their teachers. It is not my hope that they will again be put in the same classroom.
The point of this blog is to make people aware.
Especially other parents of twins and their educators. Twins being forced to split classrooms feels like a big deal.
The reason it feels like a big deal is because it is a big deal.
Facing the world alone for the first time separate from the person you’ve been with since conception is a very serious emotional and psychological struggle for twins. Behind their sweet little smiles. While they enjoy their fruitsnacks. As they paint their pictures. When they write their make-believe stories.
So please don’t make the mistake of assuming all is well. Even though you can’t see it, they are fighting a battle inside their confused little minds. Conflict remains. Fear looms. Anxiety haunts.
Educators – Even if you aren’t convinced that splitting twins is a big deal, please be careful with your words. Don’t tell the parents they wouldn’t recognize it was an issue in the first place based on current classroom behavior. Just because the warning signs aren’t neon and blinking, it doesn’t mean they’re not there.
Instead, ask questions. How are things going at home? Do you see any evidence that being split from her twin is affecting her in a negative way? Is there anything I can do to help?
Parents and Educators – It should not be a competition to discover who was right or wrong, but a willing collaboration to ensure that the twins adjust positively to their new school environment without any lingering side-effects at home. Keep in mind the only thing that matters is the current emotional well-being of both twins.
And unless you take the time to discover the whole truth – the real truth?
You are simply not qualified to judge.