Moving from one phase to another
As the readers of The Brookline Parent know, this past summer Muffin and Squeaker turned five years old. Kids go through many developmental changes during their first five years, as we’ve written about almost ever since we began this column. Muffin and Squeaker went from tiny, non-verbal babies to little girls and then bigger girls. We’ve gotten to see them at their most loving and at their most sarcastic.
For the longest time, when they were just babies, most of what the girls needed was to be fed and changed. But as they got older, they became much more interactive, and we gave them the chance to interact with their peers as soon as they could. We set up play dates for them with children of similar ages, and at the age of two the girls went to a morning playgroup. At ages three and four they went to a morning preschool. They got to make new friends and also learn to resolve conflicts with other kids. They learned about the world around them, and brought back home with them knowledge and skills that delighted and surprised us. It’s been an amazing five years for us.
And now, it’s time to send the girls to kindergarten. Like many others in our community, Nomi and I looked at the different options for schooling. One of the reasons we live in Brookline is because we love and support the excellent public school system in the town, but we also wanted to make sure the children had the Jewish education that matches the way we live. After going through the whole process of registering for public schools and applying to Jewish day schools, we finally made our decision. Our kids will be attending the same Jewish day school that Nomi graduated from. The only difference is that Nomi started at that school in fourth grade; our expectation is that Muffin and Squeaker will be there for the entire 13 years of their pre-college education.
(Amusing digression: as many town residents know, Brookline is facing an overcrowding problem in our public schools. The town is looking to expand at least one of the K-8 schools and the high school. When I had to contact our local public K-8 school, I felt a little bad that I was about to tell them that we had chosen to send our kids elsewhere. Their response? Oh, perfectly fine! Go right ahead! I got the feeling that they were relieved by our decision, as in a way we are doing our bit to alleviate the school’s overcrowding problem.)
One other major decision we had to make was whether to separate the girls into two different classes or to keep them together in one class. Most educational institutions strongly advise parents of twins to split them up as soon as they enter Kindergarten, although by law (at least here in Massachusetts) they have to keep the kids together if the parents ask. Nomi and I thought about it for a long time, and in the end we decided to split them up. A few factors made our decision easier. First of all, they already have two close friends going into their class, and the school and their friends’ parents are letting us “assign” our children so that Muffin will be in a class with one of their friends and Squeaker will be in a class with the other. Secondly, although there are two Kindergarten classes, they come together for lunch, recess, and other activities, so our daughters will get to see each other for some of the day.
But the deciding factor, honestly, was that we wanted to give Muffin and Squeaker a chance to start building their own separate identities. Depending on the activity, we’ve noticed that one or the other will often dominate. By simple logistics, up until now almost every play date has been for the both of them, and as I noted, they have been in the same class for three years. It just seems right that now is the time for them to strike out a little bit on their own and not have to worry about being in a sister’s shadow.
This week’s column is written by Michael A. Burstein.
About this column: The adventures of two Brookline parents and their twin daughters, Muffin and Squeaker. Copyright 2014 by Michael and Nomi Burstein.