Friday, September 28, 2012

My towering twins

Silly me.
I had worried that Matthew and Jonathon would be labeled by their shared DNA in school.
But does anyone say, "Hey, are you the mom of the identical twins?"
They say, "Hey, you're the mom of the tall twins, aren't you?"
Yes, Jonathan and Matthew have a greater claim to fame. They are off the charts for height, just like their older brother and sister, and thanks, probably, to their six-foot-five dad.
I haven't measured them since July, but they were 50 inches tall then.
At five years old, that puts them in the highest category, according the National Centers for Disease Control: "above the 95th percentile."
Their height has always been a problem.
(They are precisely the same height, a sore subject between them.)
Public tantrums were bad when they were three years old, especially since they fed off each other. But they were made worse by people who assumed they were two years older.
Once, a woman who saw one twin melting down in typical 3-year-old fashion as we passed the grocery store's chip selection -- a total stranger -- told me I should beat him because he was too old to behave that way.
(I suggested that perhaps the same discipline would be appropriate for her -- the one and only time I ever managed a good comeback in the heat of the moment.)
Several times when we visited the mall on their day off from preschool, some older woman (why the older women?) or a store clerk would demand to know (not "ask," but "demand") why they weren't in school.
I admit I took pleasure in watching their nosy jaws drop when I'd say they were only four.
So I knew they were taller than average and I knew their height might someday be an issue.
But, honestly, I didn't realize the difference was that great.
Few people said anything when they were in preschool.
But the private preschool they attended two days a week was small and two other boys were not far behind them in height. The public preschool, where they now attend kindergarten, had a much larger class, but the kids were tucked away on one end of the building, at least during the two days the twins attended.
Few people outside the preschool ever saw them.
Not so any more.
Now they are in the hallways, on the playground and in the cafeteria with the rest of the elementary school crowd.
Their little (still "little" to me) heads shoot up above their classmates, more on level with the first- and second-graders than with their peers.
It might not seem like a handicap.
People tend to reserve that stereotype for shortness.
But it is.
Even when people know how old they are, it's hard to conceive. They subconsciously raise their expectations ... just like I do ... just like I have always done to their older brother and sister, despite my best efforts.
Once again though, their twinness comes to the rescue.
Rarely do they care what others think.
They have that confidence -- that impenetrable space between them -- that they derive from each other.
They are, as they might say, "cool with it."

Friday, September 7, 2012

They are all yours, class of 2025!

Three days ago, Matthew and Jonathan started their new careers.
They are officially kindergartners.
And with their launch into the academic world has come a renewed round of the infamous question, "Are they in the same classroom?" My response ("Yes, they are.") elicits everything from raised eyebrows to pleased smiles to spontaneous lectures.
I tell them the same things I have written in this blog over the past several years.
Our decision was based on recent research, conversations with identical twins and talks with teachers who have experience with twins who were placed in the same classrooms.
We have the confidence that we have made the right decision, and we have the intelligence to let time, experience and Jonathan and Matthew's wishes be our guide for the future.
But, in New York State, where parents are not guaranteed a say in the placement of multiples, all the research in the world would have been irrelevant without the cooperation of an open-minded principal. Our principal has never experienced twins in the same classroom. Yet, he was fascinated by the studies we presented him and eager to do what is best for Matthew and Jonathan.
So he readily agreed.
He will be watching their social and academic progress as closely as we will.
None of those concerns matter, however, to the boys.
They are already having a blast and each has attached himself to a different "best friend."
For the past two days, I have had to drag them out the classroom at the end of the day.
My arms are weakening.
I'm thinking about lining the route from the classroom to the van with freeze pops and Smarties, two of their favorite treats, to get them home.
Here are a few photos from the first day.

(Note: Jonathan is wearing a jacket despite the heat because "that's what you wear to school.")