Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On separating triplets

As most of you know, the girls are in separate classrooms for preschool. While this wasn't part of my initial planning, I think that it has its benefits. So for now, no major complaints from me. Outside of school, the girls are together almost 100% of their waking time. If they are in a situation that makes them nervous or shy, they will seek out each other and hold hands.

Shortly after the school year started, Grammy found an invitation to a classmate's birthday party in Emily's backpack. Unfortunately, the party was to take place during a busy weekend for us. And at the exact time of the party, Rich was scheduled to be golfing with his brothers. Something that had been planned months in advance and does not occur but once or twice a year.

There was no one to assist with the girls that day so I determined that I had two options:
  1. Call the classmate's mother, explain our situation and offer to pay for the extra cost of two additional guests (the party was at a bouncy place) so that I could bring Em to the party.

  2. RSVP that Em will not be able to attend.

What would you have done? Emily had only been in school for a few weeks and of course now, months later, she talks about this little girl so I do feel badly that I went with Option #2. I really did not want to put the mother in an awkward situation. I thought that I would sound pushy if I went with Option #1.

In November, Allie received an invitation to a classmate's birthday party. The party was to take place on the same day as the annual holiday party for the Spina Bifida Association. Rich and I decided that I would bring Allie to her classmate's birthday party while Rich, Anna and Emily would spend some time at the SBA's holiday party.

I do have some pictures so I'm going to throw them in here. Em and Anna wore last year's Christmas outfits to the holiday party. Em would not pose for a picture


but I got one anyway.

Anna and Allie, who is still in her partial pajama/partial "I think it's summer" outfit.


Prior to us leaving the house, Allie was excited but nervous. She did ask a few times if I was going to stay with her at the party. Of course, sweetie.



The party was held at one of these gymnastics/rock wall climbing type places. When we entered the waiting room, a few of Allie's classmates came over and said hi to her. I could tell right away that she was nervous and a bit overwhelmed. They had all the kids line up and enter the gym behind the birthday girl. I kind of pushed Allie into line and told her I would be behind her.

In the gym, all the kids bounced down this long bouncy thing to the other side of the room. There were chairs near the door so I placed myself there to hang out with the other parents. I can be a bit shy myself but I do try to take whatever opportunity possible to talk to other parents especially since these kids will presumably be classmates with my kids for the next 14 years.

The birthday girl's mother was super nice and we chatted for a bit about the school. When she discovered that Allie was a triplet, she told me that I should have let her know. There was a dad there with twin boys. One of the boys is in Allie's class and the dad asked to bring both boys. So it looks like I could have gone with Option #1 for this party and no one would have thought anything of it.

I was keeping an eye on Allie at the other end of the gym. She was jumping and jumping. There were other kids around her but she wasn't socializing with them. In fact, none of them were really socializing with each other and I thought of what Allie's teacher told me at the parent/teacher conference. They are too involved in what they themselves are doing.

I walked over to Allie so that I could let her know where I was sitting in case she needed me. My little baby melted into a pool of tears when she saw me. For the rest of the party, I kind of hung out with her or shadowed what she was doing. She participated in the parachute and other activities but she wanted me nearby, which I think is completely understandable. There were other parents in the same boat as well.

I think she had fun and it was definitely a new experience for both of us. As we were leaving, the birthday girl's mother handed me two extra party favor bags. I thought that was very sweet of her to do. We arrived home before Rich, Anna and Emily. Allie kept asking me when they were going to be home and when she heard the garage door open, she jumped up and yelled, "I hear the garage door. They're home!" Then she ran to meet them at the door with party favors in hand. "Sissies, I got a surprise for you!"

I'm not opposed to the girls having separate friends right now. They are in different classrooms so this is going to be a natural progression. Honestly, Anna and Em really weren't too upset that Allie was going to a birthday party. They don't even know who Allie's friend is. The girls are with each other so much, I think it's healthy to experience a bit of independence. I want them to realize that although they will always have two best friends, they are not one.

I have two very good friends who have been good friends of mine since junior high and if you knew exactly how old I was, you would know that junior high was a loooooong time ago. These two friends are twins and best friends with each other. They also have the same friends. It just happened that they ended up with the same friends. It was never forced.

I guess my belief is that I don't want to force the girls apart but I don't want to keep them together just because they are triplets. I want to give them the ability to be individuals separate from "triplets" while knowing that it is okay to need their sisters.


Wendy said...

You are far stronger than I'm afraid I will be. When she started crying, I would have lost it, too. We've never separated M&L and planned for them to be together in school, as well. It worries me to think about what, if any independence they will have from one another. The mother was so thoughtful to let you bring home bags for Em and Anna! For the first party I would have done the same thing you did, RSVP not attending.

Ann said...

I like Allie's dresses ready for party! Allie, Em and Anna are too lovely! Merry x-mas and happy new year to you and family. rgrds,Ann

Neeti said...

Sarah, I agree wholeheartedly with what you say about separating multiples so that they can explore their own individuality. And I feel that this is true not only of multiples, but also of siblings who are born close enough together to share interests, friends, and live daily life in each other's shadows (I have two girls less than two and a half years apart, and aside from the time spent in their classrooms, are always together - they share the same set of friends too). I have realized from my own experiences that separating siblings temporarily not only develops their individuality, but can also have a healthy impact on their interpersonal relationships with parents, and family, and friends. Especially when siblings are of different ages, when together, they always slip into the role of the older or younger sibling and start conforming to their own and other's expected behavior for those roles. Separating them for a while takes away the pressures of such role play, and can uncover different facets of their personality. I discovered this by accident with my older daughter, and have since become a firm believer that temporary separation of siblings (even it is a few hours in a week, or less) is absolutely essential for them to discover and manifest their individuality.

Mamma Sol said...

This was very interesting to read! I have identical twins and the whole issue of separation is a recurring one. For now, they are in daycare, and doing well in one big group. But at every opportunity (outings, meals, projects) I have specifically asked for them to be apart. And it is working great. I think it is especially interesting that your girls are all in different classes at such a young age, and that it is working well even though they are shy. I have been advised to keep my girls together for next year (when they are three and are to attend a group of 40 kids 3-5 years old), but I hope I still have the chance to have them in separate groups for special activities.
Thank you so much for sharing!

Tracey's Life said...

I think that as their mother, you know what is best for your children and if you choose to separate, then separate and try not to angst over it too much.

As far as children's parties are concerned, I cannot tell you how many times I was asked if a sibling could come to the party, so go ahead and ask. I think your offering to pay for the others is wonderful and then it is up to the mother to decide to accept or not. This will come up for you many, many times throughout their Preschool and Elementary days.

I think many people will have many different opinions, but you will always know what is best for your girls.

Anonymous said...

I applaud your handling of this topic! Nice! Your girls get cuter every day!

Stacey L. said...

I am starting to think about whether or not to separate my twin girls when they go to preschool and am glad I can read your blog to get advice.

And the girls outfits are super cute!