It’s a Sign…with wine.

Posted by on May 29, 2014 in From My Perspective, Musings from the Mayhem, Twin Turbulence, Twins | 0 comments

(Thanks to Nicole Barczak Photography for this family photo.)

Last week Craig and I went on vacation.  We were in need of some deep breaths – the kind that make you feel human as opposed to the ones that keep you from losing your mind.

Upon arrival, I sat on the elegant terrace with a glass of white wine.  I took a sip of liberation.  I laid my head against the quaint rocking chair and closed my eyes.  The moment was orgasmic.  Full of pleasure, excitement, and most of all release.

I opened my eyes feeling lighter.  For four days I would not be bothered with the constant needs of my kids.  For four days I could live according to my own agenda.  For four days I was free.  I really liked that story.

I started to admire the view.  The beautiful green grass.  The flowers in bloom.  The creative design of the landscape.  The warm rays of the sun on my pale Michigan skin.  Then I noticed a sign in front of me:

Multiply

I began to read the sign and connected immediately.  As a mother of multiples, my natural response to the word MULTIPLY was automatic.

I read the definiton of the verb:

increase or cause to increase greatly in number of quantity

I nodded my head in agreement.  When our identical twin daughters were born, we went from a family of three to a family of five inside of just two short minutes.  That felt like an enormous increase of quantity.  And chaos.  And confusion.  And cluster.  And CRAZY.

I took another sip gulp of my wine.  That memory alone required it.

Then I continued to read the synonyms:

increase, grow, become more numerous, accumulate, proliferate, mount up

At first this list was perfectly suitable.  But then it was confusing.  Then?  Downright hilarious!

Let me attempt to explain.

I was connected to, invested in and intrigued by this sign.  So I analyzed every single word and how it was used.

I was fine all the way through accumulate.  But signals started blaring at proliferate.

I needed to know more about this word.  I’d heard it before, but never used it myself.  What exactly did it mean?

Proliferate.  I repeated it a few times in my head.  Funny, I thought, it kind of reminded me of prophylactic.  Which led me straight to a condom.  You obviously see the natural gutter-mind progression here.

I squinted my eyes and pursed my lips in eager anticipation of the punchline I knew I’d find.

Mount up was all it took.  That phrase had nothing to do with numbers.  Trust me.

And lastly the example.  In red!  As if it’s a warning:

“Let’s multiply.”  

Are you KIDDING me?  What kind of a freak came up with this definition?!  Was Freud related to Webster?!

I laughed.  Out loud.  By myself.  (Craig was getting me another glass of wine.)  It was a deep belly kind of a laugh.  The scene in my head was just too funny.

Funny stuff

“Oh Craig!  Come on!  Forget the prophylactic!  Mount up, baby!  Let’s multiply!!!

Had this been the scenario a decade ago, he would have run.  Very fast and very far.  And a decade ago this sign would have meant nothing to me.

But now?  Now it was pure filthy entertainment!

Just like our twins.

Twin Fun

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The Evolution of the Great Twin Split: Part III

Posted by on Oct 15, 2013 in From My Perspective, Twin Turbulence, Twins | 2 comments

 

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:

The Evolution of the Great Twin Split: Part I

The Evolution of the Great Twin Split: Part II

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.

 

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The Evolution of the Great Twin Split: Part I

Posted by on Jul 22, 2013 in From My Perspective, Twin Turbulence, Twins | 3 comments

The twins will be in third grade this year.  It is the Principal’s policy that twins be split when enrollment is high enough to merit two grades per class level.  I have yet to see this policy, nor do I necessarily agree with it based on principle – but that’s a story for another day.

As enrollment numbers grew, it was apparent that the Principal was adamant about the split.  It would have taken a hell of a battle, including going above her head to the higher-ups at the school, to have had a chance at changing her decision.  As twin parents, we had to decide how to handle the situation:

Should we fight to win the battle of having a say in the emotional well-being of our daughters?  We are confident they can split – and even want them to when they are ready to do so – however only one of them is capable of embracing the idea as of right now.  In another year, with fair warning and proper preparation, we trust they will both be secure enough in themselves as individuals to approach the split with a positive attitude and an open-mind.

Or should we step down from the pending battle and trust in our parenting to guide them through their toughest emotional transition yet?  We have always believed in the power of setting a positive example for our kids to follow.  If we can demonstrate an attitude of acceptance instead of an attitude of resistance, perhaps our twin daughters will follow suit easier and earlier than expected.

In making our decision, we considered the message we wanted to send to our twin daughters:

Continuing to fight would send the message that we didn’t believe in their ability to face the world as individuals.  That they couldn’t be happy unless they were in the company of each other.

Choosing to concede would send the message to Taylor and Sydney that we believed in each of their abilities to rise and stand as individuals.  As young girls.  And, eventually, as young women.

Ultimately we chose to swallow our pride as parents so that our twin daughters could develop their own pride as individuals.  To model the value in approaching life with an open-mind and a positive attitude.  To demonstrate our infinite support as parents who believe their little girls are destined for great things.  To empower both of our daughters with the knowledge that they can do anything they set their minds to independently of each other.

We already know they’re rock solid as twins.  Now it’s time for Sydney and Taylor to learn how to be rock solid as individuals.

So bring on the split.  We’ve got this, Girls.

 

Note: To read The Evolution of the Great Twin Split: Part II, click here.

 To read The Evolution of the Great Twin Split: Part III, click here.

 

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Twin Mode? Nah…Twin Power.

Posted by on Jul 16, 2013 in From My Perspective, Musings from the Mayhem, Twin Turbulence, Twins | 0 comments

I love having identical twins.

I published a memoir not too long ago entitled Twin Turbulence: What Happened when Twins Happened.  If you’ve read it, you might think I’m contradicting myself.  It focuses on the insane challenges our twins presented during infancy and toddlerhood.  Those years were not easy HARD nearly impossible.

Now our twin daughters are almost 9, and utterly delightful.  Sure they still drive us crazy at times, but nothing like when they were terribly 2.  That year of miserable mayhem continues to serve as a wonderful frame of reference as no other phase of parenting has yet to compete.  Bring on 16 squared, I say to the skeptics: It will not be as hard as 2 x 2.  I know it.

One of the reasons we co-exist so well now is that Craig and I have discovered, accepted and surrendered to the power of the girls’ twinship.  We no longer fight them when they are in “Twin Mode” – It’s not a battle we can win.  Twin Mode is when they are connected. In sync.  Most content in their own little world.  Twin Mode is impenetrable.

Twin Mode occurs several times a day, but most consistently at bedtime.  Before we respected the power of Twin Mode, we used to fight them for hours to go to sleep.  We treated Twin Mode as our enemy then – as though it was merely a bad habit that could be changed.  We waged a stubborn parental war without ever having a chance at victory.

Twin Mode can not be put to rest by an outside force.  Twin Mode only goes away when the twins agree to make a joint exit.

This morning marked the first day of volleyball camp (ever) for Sydney and Taylor.  They were beyond excited.  In theory, they should have gone to sleep last night at a reasonable hour so they’d be well rested.  We would have demanded it from their 10 year-old singleton brother, Gabriel.

As we were tucking them in, though, we knew Twin Mode had already been initiated.  They went through the motions of accepting our kisses, hugs and tuck-tuck-tucks, but there was no reciprocation of affection. No requests for late-night conversation.  No stall tactics for just one more kiss, a glass of water, a bedtime story, etc.

Nope.  They agreed to go to bed.  That’s how we knew to walk out without even bothering to turn off the lights.  That’s why we agreed to let them run downstairs to grab a snack of yogurt.  Because when they’re in Twin Mode, the only true defense is a sensible offense.

“Good night girls.  I love you,” I said, as they both sat on Taylor’s bed facing each other as they ate their yogurt.  “Don’t forget you have volleyball in the morning,” I offered a fair reminder.

“Okay!  Night Momma!” they said in unison without ever glancing my way.  I shook my head and chuckled.

Craig and I could hear them chatting as we watched tv.

“Forces of nature,” he muttered in disgust.

“Yup,” I agreed, knowing unequivocally he was referring to our twin daughters.

I have no idea what time they finally went to sleep.  When I woke them, they were snuggled together in Taylor’s twin bed – a sight that never fails to melt my heart.

“Wake up little loves,” I whispered.  “Its time to get up for volleyball!”

They smiled, stretched and opened their eyes.  They rolled out of bed with ease and charged forward.  Their shared excitement for volleyball was obvious during breakfast.  I had to remind them to stop talking long enough to eat on several occasions as Twin Mode had already begun.

“What time did you go to bed last night, girls?”  I asked, amazed that I was already exhausted by their high level of energy.

“I don’t know,” one of them said.

“How are you not tired?!” I had to know.

They looked at each other and giggled.

“Twin Power!”  Taylor retorted in a cocky sing-song tone.

“Oh yeah!”  Sydney cheered, as they raised hands to share in a perfectly timed, victorious hi-5.

I shook my head and laughed.  Twin Power.  Even their title for their shared phenomenon was stronger than ours.  Go figure.

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