It’s double the fun at one childhood classTwice as nice or double the trouble? The moms of twins in the multiples class at Bailey Elementary School say it’s a bit of both.
Twice as nice or double the trouble?
The moms of twins in the multiples class at Bailey Elementary School say it’s a bit of both.
Every week, four mothers of four sets of twins meet as part of the South Washington County early childhood family education (ECFE) class, sharing tips and knowledge as they raise their young ones.
One matter on which they’re all agreed is that there’s never a dull moment with a pair of twins around the home.
“When they make each other laugh, that can turn a bad day into a good day,” said Woodbury mom Tina Scott, mother to 19-month-old Titus and Genesis.
“When they start chasing each other around the house and giggling, that just makes the day for me.”
Although many of the challenges faced by a parent of twins are the same as those faced by any new parent, there are some with which only another parent with two young children of the same age can empathize, according to Jane Scully, the program manager.
Herself a mother of fraternal twin boys, now 19, Scully previously taught a multiples class for Minneapolis Public Schools before starting in South Washington County.
So she’s only too familiar with the issues a mother of twins might be facing.
“When the moms come in, right away it’s like, ‘Wow, someone else who gets my life!’” she said.
“There was something about a group of mothers of multiples that was so different to all the others — there was that instant bond… We don’t even hesitate to move in and help [each other out with kids] like the mother of a singleton might.
“With multiples, the predominant relationship is between the two of them (twins) whereas with a singleton, it’s between the child and the parent.”
When the families arrive at the ECFE center at Bailey Elementary on a Wednesday morning, they head first for the classroom with all the toys.
There, mothers and twins — and ECFE teachers and assistants — get down to the serious business of play. Around the room, the sets of twins draw, play in the sand box, bake in the play kitchen or sit and read with mom.
For the most part, the twins play together, but one or two of the bolder (and older) ones will venture away to check out the activities of his or her classmates.
Half-way through the session, the moms move across the hall to receive instruction from Sue Hansen, the parent educator, while the twins stay and play.
Hansen says much of the teaching she does relates to child development, but discussion will also center around twin-centric issues on which the mothers wish to compare notes.
One such issue is that of public attention, which the mothers agree can be a mixed blessing.
“I get that, definitely, and I think I get it more because they are identical,” explained Sue Cramer, the Woodbury mother of Nikita and Maxim, adopted identical twin Russian boys who turn three this month.
“They are so cute and so they get more attention because of that.
“It’s hard, because people you don’t even know feel like they have to stop and comment and sometimes you aren’t in the mood for it.
“Then there are times when you do have the time when someone wants to talk and it’s fun, because who doesn’t want to talk about their kids?
“There’s not a single time I go out of the house that someone doesn’t want to talk to me about my sons.”
Cramer, who says bringing up her twin sons is the hardest job she has ever done, still feels she may have a head start on parents with children of different ages.
“In some ways I feel I have it easier than parents of children of different ages,” she said. “When I make lunch, I make one lunch; when you have children of different ages, they have different needs and you have to make something for each one.
“They also play together, so I don’t have to entertain them as much as if the child was on his own with no one to play with…
“Still, sometimes you feel like you have two octopuses by you because their hands are reaching out everywhere and then your hands are everywhere after them!”
If nothing else, the weekly multiples classes provide a great opportunity for the mothers to bond, lend a sympathetic ear to one another’s trials and tribulations of the last week, and, for an hour or so at least, have a few extra pairs of hands around to help out until their offspring get a little older.
In the meantime, in common with almost every new mom, the multiples mothers of South Washington County are relishing every moment of their twins’ early days.
“When they offer something to each other willingly without being prompted, I think that’s definitely a twin thing,” said Scott, talking about the remarkably early aptitude for sharing shown by a lot of twins.
“They definitely have that unique relationship with each other. There are times when I can just step back and let them play with each other… They are definitely each other’s biggest fan.”
For more information on the ECFE multiples class, visit the website www.cecool.com and click on the ECFE link.
• There are estimated to be 125 million twins and triplets in the world (1.9 percent of the population)
• Twin pregnancies last on average 37 weeks
• In the U.S., the rate of twin births is 31 per 1,000 women
• Male-female twins make up 40 percent of twin births
• Famous twins include singer Alanis Morissette (twin brother Wade), singer Justin Timberlake (twin sister Laura Katherine), actor Kiefer Sutherland (twin sister Rachel), actress Scarlett Johansson (twin brother Hunter) and actor Vin Diesel (twin brother Paul Vincent)
• Famous parents of twins include President George W. Bush (twin daughters), actresses Geena Davis (twin sons) and Julia Roberts (twin boy and girl) and actor Mel Gibson (twin sons)