Friday, April 19, 2013

{on being an advocate for your children}

"Our policy is that we always put twins in separate classrooms."

Amidst the teacher-meeting, all-about-me-book-making, and school-bus-touring, all I could hear were those words echoing in my head.

We took the boys to a kindergarten kick-off event last night.


While that word can strike fear and anxiety in the heart of any parent, I didn't realize until last night just how much more weight it holds for parents of multiples.

"They are better off in separate classrooms."


To many, it might seem like such a simple decision to separate them. Most kids have to go it alone, so why are twins any different?

Because they are. In SO many ways.

They have experienced EVERYTHING together...from the moments they came out of my womb {separated by a mere three minutes}, learning how to walk, celebrating birthdays, getting their first bikes, starting preschool.

ALL of it. Together.

So it makes total sense to force them to experience kindergarten apart.*

*insert heavy sarcasm

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to shelter them by keeping them together. My reasoning is actually quite to the contrary.

These boys are SO different. Not only do they not look alike {thank God...that has made parenting SO much easier, especially in the infant days}, but they have different talents and skills, interests and abilities, temperaments and personalities.

And that's why I know they would be better off in the same class.

They are better together, not because they rely on each other, but because they should experience it together. Field trips, parties, school programs, homework, classmates. I want all of those things to be a shared experience for them. A bonding experience.

Watching how they have adapted to preschool has only made me more sure of this. The lovely thing is that, while they know the other is with them and that is a comfort, they are almost always playing separately. When we pick them up, it is usually show and tell time, and we walk in to find them sitting with different friends. Or if they are playing they are in different parts of the room. 

But they KNOW the other is there. And I know they feel that and appreciate it.

And they experience the same things, but through very different lenses. I love that. 

Maybe I'm more worried about how my own heart will handle their eventual separation in school. But isn't a momma's heart a container for those of her children? Our hearts are growing together...mine taking on the growing pains of theirs, while at the same time growing right along with theirs.

I know them. I know what is in their best interest...what will help them to thrive.

Last night I realized on a much larger level that it is my responsibility to be an advocate for my children, to be that mom. The one who puts her foot down and doesn't follow all of the rules when she knows they weren't made for her children.

I have to put on my big girl pants, be brave, act like I have it all together... when inside I'm just praying most days I can make it through.

As anxiety inducing as this is for is also very empowering...this taking charge of your children's best interests. This is an anxiety that I will gladly bear.

Have you had to be an advocate for your children? Or even for yourself?

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The Sharpy Family said...

Bravo. No one knows better then Mom and I think this fight is absolutely necessary. It's wonderful for you to share this especially for mamas who may be feeling the same way but feel like they are alone in their concerns and not sure how to express them. Best wishes for you and the boys :)

Butterscotch said...

I agree a mama knows her babies. But I am curious... did the school really give details to WHY they usually separate??

Only reason I ask is when my daughter was in kindergarten a situation arose; they wanted to put my daughter in a ESE class & I was a mama on fire. I knew my kid, I knew she didn't belong there. I was scared she was going to be labeled, left behind. I didn't want her there. After a ton of tears, the spouse convinced me I was her mama, but they were the professionals and to just try it. Let me tell you - BEST decision I ever made. She was in that class only for a year, but I saw my daughter change and grow leaps and bounds. Maybe she would have made the same progress in a regular classroom setting, but I don't know.

So after writing that book (sorry!), I know my situation was different compared to yours, but know that change is scary. & again, I know us mamas know what we think is best for our kids, but sometimes I wonder if some of our decisions are based on fear of change.

& please, please Mandy do not take anything I said in criticism. :) Love your blog. :)

La Mama Loca said...

Definitely stand up for your boys!! There were so many times I got frustrated when my kids were attending public school, but at the time, they were still in foster care and I had no options. Once their adoption was finalized, we made the move to homeschool and never looked back.

I was a public school teacher, never imagined when I was a teacher just how nerve-wracking it could be from the other side. As a parent, I wasn't happy with how things were done, so we did what we had to do to help them succeed!

Good job for being 'that' mom that advocates for her kids!

Kim Behrman said...

Let me try this again. I said earlier that I would think that the school would leave it up to the parents to decide if they want them together or put in separate classes. I have had friends who had twins and one of them kept the together and one put them in separate classes. Every situation is unique and the parents do know best. PS, I can't believe they are starting kindergarten.

Shannon Heis said...

Mandy, I'm struggling with a situation with my son right now. He is SO smart, and learns SO fast, I'm really thinking of homeschooling him. I will have to make a hard choice soon...whether to leave him in public school or make the leap to homeschool. I really wish Fayette County had a magnet or charter school option. It is so hard to know what the right thing to do is, hut in the end, these are YOUR childrenand nobody knows them better at this point than you and your husband. Have you talked to their preschool teacher yet...just to hear his/her thoughts on it? Best of lick in whatever you decide.

Mandy Ford said...

@The Sharpy Family - thanks so much for your encouraging encouraging! :)

@Butterscotch - Thanks so much for your honest words...I truly appreciate them! I know that I do have fears about them starting kindergarten in general, but I truly feel that it is too early to make separation necessary. They are only 5 for goodness sakes! :) My husband and I are going to meet with the principal in a few weeks and hopefully we can come up with a solution we are happy with. Wish us luck! :)

@La Momma Loca - Thanks so much for your encouraging words! Being a momma is so challenging, but yet so rewarding.

@Kim - I shouldn't just be a blanket policy because all children are unique and every situation is different. And I can't believe it either!!

@Shannon - I'm so sorry you are going through a stressful time as well. These decisions are so difficult! I hope you're able to find a solution for him...are there any schools with gifted classes? The boys' preschool teacher gave me some wonderful feedback and she's going to type up a letter to take to the elementary principal...we are meeting with her on May 7th. Fingers crossed! :)


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