Back to School Night

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Back to School Night

One of the interesting and typical phenomena about raising twins is the fact that, most of the time, schools separate twins from each other in the classroom.  Many times they’re even put in different classrooms.  The idea here is that there is no chance for one of the twins to dominate the conversation, knowledge, or homework, etc.

This is the world into which we were thrust as parents when my twins were born.

It’s funny because you spend so much time with your children together.  I was actually quite happy that I didn’t have identical twins so that I could recognize one from the other and they couldn’t pull any tricks on me or their mother.

Another interesting thing about raising my twins is that they simultaneously enjoy each other’s company – like having your best friend with you all the time – and want to beat on each other regularly.  (Well, boys anyway.)

When I was married – before my wife passed away – the back-to-school night worked as a divide-and-conquer system.  Particularly since we had 4 kids.  Early on my boys – the twins – were in the same classroom.  We needed the system, though, because we had two girls in the system as well.

So last year, when my boys were separated in the public school, I realized that I was having to balance two teachers, two classrooms, and several classes – including PE – at back to school night.  This year, unfortunately, is no different.  I am about to head into the classroom tomorrow night and navigate their classes alone.

This isn’t a painful reminder that I am a widower – I don’t mean it that way.  It’s a painful reminder, however, that I’m trying to do this alone.  I have to figure out what to feed everyone for dinner then run to the back-to-school night.  I have the schedule in hand and looked at it – and for the most part classes are the same.

But for those situations where the schedule isn’t . . . it’s a pick-and-choose method.  It has to be.  I’ve noticed the differences between myself and some of the parents – the dressed-to-the-nines women and the power-clothing (be it suit or just tight workout shirts and pants) of the husbands.  I have also noticed the occasional glance that I read (maybe over-read?) as “why is he alone” or “where is his wife?”

More than anything, though, it’s for me the juggle of trying to find out as much information about both boys’ teachers and classes without leaving either of them without the knowledge they need.  It’s particularly difficult tomorrow . . . as this is their first day of middle school.  Trying to figure out where I’m going, what I’m doing, and see what they need to know is the hard part.  Trying to get that information so I can move to their brother’s classroom before their presentation is over is even harder.  The gadflies and socializing PTA Mom that wants to spend all evening talking with the teacher about their child makes it harder for me to get what I need, get out, move to the next station and then move on again even harder.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with these parents or the system . . . it’s that it’s built either for the singular student or the students who have more than one parent.  I never noticed it before.  Now I’m acutely aware.

But like every other event spelled out on the pages of our life’s book . . . we seem to get the words out, the pages written and edited, and the story told.  It may be a little stressful along the way . . . but parenting is never easy.  It’s not supposed to be.

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