Having twins can be the most amazing experience of your life. It can also cause you to wake up in the morning wishing you were someone else. Twinning offers an honest depiction of life with twins from a mom who tries to keep things somewhere in the middle.
By the time my boy/girl twins were four, I knew that separating twins in school was a major issue for many parents of multiples. Having no solid opinion on the matter, I decided we would just go along with our school district’s policy of separating twins in kindergarten. So at registration I was completely surprised when asked if I’d like to keep my twins together. (Um…Say what?!) Our school had decided to leave the decision up to the parents in kindergarten and then separate all twins in first grade. I hadn’t really thought much about keeping them together, so I took my registration packets back home, wondering what the hell I should do.
For their two years of preschool I had chosen to keep my twins together, which I believed was beneficial for them, but I didn’t have a strong opinion on whether or not they should be kept together in kindergarten. From what I’d heard over the years, there was no formal evidence that proved either side of the argument was better, but school districts tended to separate twins. All of my friends with twins had separated their duos in kindergarten or earlier, and had no problems. Some parents feel very strongly that their twins be kept together and they often have quite a battle getting their request granted.
Before I was given an option to keep my twins together, I was trying to prepare them for what I believed was inevitable separation. I took them separately to two different kindergarten orientations. This way the teachers wouldn’t view them as a set, and my son and daughter could get a brief experience of their new school on their own. Both of them behaved and enjoyed themselves, but when I asked them individually if they had fun without their twin, both replied they would have rather had their twin with them. This had made me feel a little sad, but not sad enough to fight a school district over.
Now that we had a choice, I began to think of the advantages of keeping my twins together in kindergarten: they could support each other during this big transition, stick up for each other should either one be bullied, and they would always have someone to play with. My son has a severe peanut allergy, and although he’s always been excellent at telling people about it and avoiding nuts, it would be a measure of comfort to have my daughter with him since she was also very vocal about his allergy.
Then there were the logistical benefits: I wouldn’t be torn between children during drop-offs and pick-ups. With only one teacher, each child would get the same instruction and same homework. I wouldn’t be comparing two teachers to see who was better. All holidays would only have one party. For their birthday I could have a dual party with only 20 kids instead of 40. Keeping them together was looking pretty damn good at this point.
But I was agonizing over this decision—asking everyone I knew with twins for advice and reading article after article about the issue. Finally my practical British husband weighed in with, “It’s only kindergarten—it’s not university. They’re five. If it’s more convenient, then bloody well keep them together.”
So that’s what we did, and it turned out to be a fantastic decision. Their teacher agreed to let me know if there were any problems, but after two months of great feedback, I stopped worrying. There were three other sets of twins entering kindergarten at our school that year—one set stayed together and the other two were separated. In the end, the only complaints that arose from their parents were because of the teachers—there were no major identity or separation issues to speak of.
Separating my twins in first grade was a breeze: they were actually excited to have different classmates, two different teachers and different classrooms. Of course I’ve got the twin logistics to deal with now (two conferences arranged back-to-back that never work out on time, two simultaneous parties that I can’t attend in full, two different schedules and different homework every night. Two teachers and two assistants also make the holidays twice as expensive). But that’s all minor. I would say that every case is different—every parent knows their twins and knows what is best for them. For us, staying together through Kindergarten worked beautifully and while separating from first grade on may not be as convenient, it is bloody well working for us now.