When people find out that I have twins, they usually react in one of two ways: with a groan and a “better you than me!” or with a smile and an “I always wanted twins!”
I’m not a fan of either. Twins are hard work, but they’re also hilarious, adorable, fascinating, and have a special bond that’s fun to watch as they grow up. I don’t like when either side is diminished because it has always seemed like a good balance to me. While one stage may be harder with two, the next stage is even better because there are two. Now, with two five-year-olds just starting Kindergarten, I have to say that this stage, which I thought would be a rough one, is actually turning out to be one of my favorites.
My oldest child understandably struggled with the Kindergarten transition. It was tough going from afternoon-only preschool three days a week to attending full-day Kindergarten five days a week. She was always slow to get out of bed and completely exhausted by the time I picked her up. I was not looking forward to experiencing two times the moodiness at once. But what I discovered was that waking up early and getting through a long day is actually easier when someone is doing it with you. My twins get up and ready for the day with smiles on their faces and jump into the car nearly eight hours later, excited and eager to tell me all about their day. It’s strange being the only person who’s unhappy to be up before the sun, but I’ll take it!
Homework was another of my concerns going into the school year. Again, my oldest child struggled, not wanting to do additional school work after being in school all day. And I struggled with having to get her to focus and finish it. My twins, on the other hand, jump right into it, and they don’t want any of my help. One always knows what to do and finishes quickly while the other watches how it’s done and then does it herself. No frustration, no complaints about it being too hard or too much. One sees the other doing it, and realizes it’s simple. I’ve even gotten to use the most amazing, long-awaited parenting homework hack: “Ask your brother.”
Comparing my twins is also an interesting part of this stage. They are complete opposites in every way, and I love seeing how differently they do the same things. One twin has always naturally held her pencil or crayon correctly while the other, so far, insists on holding his in an upside-down fist. One is a perfectionist and spends time erasing and re-writing her letters and numbers until they’re exactly right. The other likes to get his work done as quickly as possible (and it shows).
My favorite thing is the way my twins balance each other out. They have such different strengths and weaknesses that they’re able to help each other. While one is spirited and wild, the other is quiet and attentive. My responsible twin will always remember when an assignment is due and what they’re supposed to bring to class the next day. She loves explaining to her brother what instructions he missed when he wasn’t paying attention. One twin loves to write letters and numbers in his spare time and is happy to teach his sister … when she allows it. My more charismatic twin brings her brother into her friend group to play when he is by himself. In my day, twins were always separated into different classrooms, but I’m so glad that’s no longer the case. I would worry if they weren’t able to look out for each other.
Of course, I have to admit that not everything is better with two Kindergartens. Double the school supplies, the forms to fill out, and the birthday gifts are all killer. Plus, I did naïvely envision both twins doing homework at the same time, but instead I have to read instructions twice because they can’t possibly operate on the same schedule. But considering how difficult I thought starting Kindergarten x2 was going to be on our family, these downsides are nothing. I love getting full reports reports of the day and entire songs they learned, only possible with two Kindergarteners piecing them together. I love how they support each other and fill in for each other’s weaknesses. I know we’re only a month in, but I love having two Kindergarteners at once, and I hope this symbiotic but not codependent relationship continues to benefit both of them. And me too, if only through my enjoyment of artwork comparisons.