Amy Condon is a mum to 3 kids, who are all under 3! Yes, you heard us right. Each week she tells us all about the ups and downs of bringing up 3 children so close in age. This week Amy tells us about the huge decision she must make of whether to separate the twins when they start school...
'To separate or not to separate, that is the question... Well, it is for twin parents at any rate. At some point we all have to face the issue of whether or not to continue having the twins do everything together, or to send them off in different directions.
I was pretty sure I'd already made the choice. Since they were embryos, G and T have hardly ever been apart and, as far as I'm concerned, they never need to be. Having a friendly face with whom you can face all the scary situations children have to face is a huge advantage. Why deny that to them? I'd already decided that when they go to school, I am going to place them in the same class. But now, I'm beginning to have my doubts...
The twins are now into their second week at nursery, and they're loving it. They're thriving in the friendly atmosphere, already au fait with all the routines and always coming home full of stories about what they've been up to together. And apart. Although for most of the time, all the children are together, free to choose whichever activity they wish, they are each allocated a colour-coded group, with whom they have quiet story time, and the occasional activity in another part of the school. T is in yellow. G is in green. Different groups. When the nursery teacher explained the arrangement on the girls' first day, I nodded in agreement.
‘Yes,' I smiled, ‘I really want them to get used to being apart a bit more, and this is a great way to ease them into it.' And I really do believe that. Still felt like I'd been punched in the stomach, though.
Every time I've had to leave the girls for the first time anywhere - with a grandparent, playgroup, dance class - it's been such a comfort knowing that they are not alone. If one gets upset, the other is guaranteed to be there with a cuddle and a smile. I know, I know, the vast majority of kids don't have this back-up and get on just fine - and trust me, I'm already panicking about leaving M on her own - but I've been able to largely put off this day for the twins. Until now.
‘I'm just not sure how they'll react to being separated,' I said to the nursery teacher, trying to sound casual. ‘If you could just keep an eye on them...'
‘Of course,' she smiled, probably mentally ticking me off on her list of neurotic mums.
But I bet she's seen it all before and knows perfectly well what will happen. What did happen? Nothing. On their second day, T's group were taken away for a music lesson, while G's stayed in the main nursery.
‘Was she OK?' I worried to G's key worker when I collected them.
‘Oh, yes,' she smiled. ‘You mean when her sister went away? She didn't notice.'
It seems that just as all my fears about the girls having to do without me were largely unfounded, the panic about them doing without each other was pointless too. Even when they are sharing the nursery room, the twins are by no means joined at the hip. Although the teachers said they tended to like to sit and have a snack together, they were often off playing different games and making new friends. (Both, incidentally, came home talking of all the fun they had with little boys (their father has sprouted a few more grey hairs...).
So now I'm not sure. Do I keep them together at school or throw them in the same way as everyone else - on their own? On one hand, I don't feel having the other there holds them back, so what's wrong with a little comfort? Nursery has shown that they can be apart even while in the same room. But they still have a back-up. Their peers don't. Will pulling out that safety net be better in the long run? I just can't decide. To separate or not to separate, that is the question...and I still don't know the answer.'
What do you think Amy should do? Tell us about your experiences in our comments section below or on Facebook.
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