I have to admit; it’s hard parenting twins. It’s more than just the logistical there’s two of them. You have to treat them as individuals while at the same time balancing their twin identity. I learned this lesson first hand this past year when they started school.
Last year when the boys started Kindergarten, I should have been happy or at the very least enjoying all those bittersweet emotions that parents have when they send their last child away to school. Instead, I was filled with anxiety and dread over how Quinn was going to fare. Both had finished Pre-K, and both had received services for their speech delays. I wanted to keep Quinn in Pre-K for another year while letting Colin move on. Unfortunately, in my state that wasn’t an option, if Quinn were going to continue with his services he would have to move up with his brother.
As I left the school that morning, I watched Quinn without his brother trying to navigate a room full of twenty other kids who couldn’t understand him when he tried to talk. He no longer had his brother with him to translate. It was sink or swim time, and I was terrified he was going to drown. My tears that day weren’t for the babies that had finally grown up enough to start school but for my child who was scared and alone.
As the school year went along, Colin excelled. Once he figured out what he needed to do, there was no stopping him. He went from just getting by, to the top in his class. He enjoyed school. Quinn came home every day tired and frustrated. School was a chore for him that he didn’t like. Most days he didn’t want to go. I spent most of my time in his classroom, with his teachers and the Vice Principal. I encouraged him to make friends, to talk to people, to try. Before the New Year even began I received the news I knew was coming, Quinn would have to repeat Kindergarten.
I didn’t know what to do. I cried. I got angry at myself for not doing more. Although, I don’t know what else we could have done, this poor kid did school all day and then came home to flash cards and homework. His brother and sister spent their afternoons playing because they breezed through their work and didn’t require extra help. The entire school year I agonized over was I spending too much time helping Quinn and not enough with his siblings. I couldn’t wait for the end of the school year to come.
I spent the entire spring ruminating on what to do. It wasn’t an option to not hold him back. There was no way he could go to First Grade; it would be setting him up for failure. The question before me was whether to keep them in the same school or separate them even more. I had to stop thinking about them as a unit, completely. I had to do what was best for Quinn, staying at the same school with his brother, sister, friends, and special education teachers that he’s grown to trust. Change is very hard for him, and I felt that putting him in another school or moving all of them to another school would be unfair and feel like a punishment.
It wasn’t until we went Back to School shopping that I finally told them all what was happening. Colin and Bryleigh understood, and I stressed to them that it only meant that Quinn needed some extra help. I don’t think Quinn understood anything about it other than his brother got different school supplies. On a whim, so he wouldn’t feel left out I bought him double school supplies to keep at home so he can have his own pencil box and his first marble notebook like his twin. That made him smile but inside my heart was breaking for him.
This year when I drop them off, I will again be filled with dread and anxiety. I’ll worry about how Quinn will feel when he sees his friends, and they wonder why they aren’t in the same class together. I wonder if that will damage his self-esteem and make him hate school more than he already does. I’ll agonize over how it will change their relationship as twins. I’ll spend the entire school year beating myself up over the amount of time I have to spend with Quinn versus the time I spend with my two other children. It’s going to be a long school year, and it hasn’t even started yet.
In times like these, I remind myself that I’m not alone. That this is the same struggle all parents walk every day. Wanting the best for their children, making decisions that they pray will work out for the best. All I can do now is cross my fingers and hope.