Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Preschoolers no more!

Jonathan and Matthew are on their way to kindergarten!
They were ecstatic as they graduated preschool this week and last -- first from their private school and then from the public school. My camera battery died minutes into the first graduation, so this photo bomb is limited to the second graduation.

Matthew is on the left and Jonathan is on the right. Both were so excited that they insisted on leaving for the school right after these photos, half an hour early. Though the differences in their haircuts are slight, Jonathan's longer style seems to bring out the fullness in his face more. They were the tallest in both of their preschools at 4-foot-2.

Jonathan won the award for best at puzzles. He told his teachers he wants to be a pizza guy when he grows up.

Matthew wants to drive trains when he grows up, according to his teachers. He won the award for best at computers.

The public preschool, which is run by the local Head Start program, does detailed evaluations of the children a few times a year for academic, social, emotional and physical development (motor skills). Jonathan and Matthew scored identically on each evaluation with the exception of an occasional missed letter sound or number. By the final evaluation, their reports were entirely identical.

In each of the preschools, Matthew and Jonathan had their own best friends. Those friendships were harder to forge in the public preschool, which they attended only two days a week as non-district residents. The other children all attended five days a week and had strong bonds, forcing Jonathan and Matthew together more often. (There were many more part-timers in their private preschool.) By the end of the school year, the teachers told us they were separating more regularly and developing healthy friendships. 

Just before this picture, we learned the identity of their kindergarten teacher and spent some time nosing around his classroom. The twins quizzed him endlessly and he held up well under their fire. We could not have gone wrong with either teacher, but seeing that classroom and knowing he will be their teacher seemed to make it all the more real to them.

They are preschoolers no more!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Ugh! Time for scowling lessons?

I got a rare glimpse yesterday into the minds of Matthew and Jonathan and how they experience the world as identical twins.
We were sitting in the minivan after a school field trip, waiting for their older brother and sister to emerge from the building.
A friend passed by with her twin boys, who are two years younger than our guys.
I opened the sliding van door so Matthew and Jonathan could see the other twins and say, "Hello."
My friend's twins both have the same hue of bright blond hair, the same fair skin and are about the same height.
But one of her boys has curls and an outgoing, social personality.
The other has straighter hair and is more clingy, more cautious in his approach.
Though they are obviously brothers, I've never had trouble telling them apart.
They are clearly fraternal.
After the other twins left, a conversation ensued in the back seat.
Jonathan: "I can't tell them apart. That's why I don't use their names."
Matthew: "Yes, they look the same to me."
Jonathan: "At least they weren't dressed the same. That helps."
Matthew: "I think one has a fuller face. I still can't tell them apart though."
I was stunned.
I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry.
How many times had they heard this?
How many people have examined Jonathan and Matthew and spoken of them -- right in front of them -- as if they were simply objects, highly insensitive with their games of " What makes these pictures different?" This back-seat conversation was clearly not about the twin friends we'd just seen.
Matthew and Jonathan were emulating adult conversations, conversations they'd overheard.
This happened frequently when they were babies and toddlers.
I didn't worry then because I figured Matthew and Jonathan couldn't comprehend it anyway. They were immersed in their own, egocentric worlds. But as they got older, I started to hush people when the comparisons began.
Then, when they got a lot older, I started to scowl.
Soon it seemed that people had gotten smarter.
They still compared the boys. That's only natural.
Heck, I do it too.
But they compared them out of earshot.
I guess the reactions to my scowls misled me.
I'd thought things had gotten better recently, that the overt and callus comparisons had become less frequent, especially since Matthew and Jonathan rarely even wear the same shirts, have tried to achieve different haircuts, have developed such different personalities, and have different amounts of fullness in their faces making their expressions unique.
I guess I was wrong.
Jonathan and Matthew are out of my hands more often nowadays.
They are in preschool four days a week, where they interact not only with teachers, but with parents of other children. Teachers tend to be sensitive, but that doesn't ensure that other adults they encounter will be.
I've taught Jonathan and Matthew to be upfront when people are unsure who is who and tell them their names. Right now, they aren't bothered by that. I've tried to help them understand that it's not an insult. People just need help sometimes because they look so much alike on the outside.
I guess we need another lesson though.
I guess I need to teach them how to scowl.