Yes, they're twins. Both of them!

Everyday experiences with twins. The ups, downs and downright unexpected.

Mummy’s feeling the pressure June 3, 2011

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This week, the big brother has taken his SATS. These are the tests that British school children sit at the end of Year 2, and are supposed to be a measure of a school’s teaching abilities, rather than the capability of its students. Allegedly.

I’ll be honest and say both twinsdaddy and I are rather glad it’s the weekend. Every morning I’ve dropped big brother off and tried to give a little pep talk of key facts to remember. Capital letters at the beginning of sentences. Read the question carefully. If you’re stuck on a question, move on and come back to it later.

The classroom has been set out in exam room configuration. All the desks have been separated and are ominously facing the whiteboard.

Apparently Miss M, his lovely class teacher, has been plying her students with ‘brain biscuits’ before the start of each test, and writing things like “you’re fabulously clever”, on the board as encouragement.

I don’t remember any of my teachers being anywhere near as lovely.

Anyway, the point is, the big brother has completely taken the week in his stride, whilst twinsdaddy and I have been nervous wrecks. I have no idea why. The big brother is completely capable and gives us no cause for concern. His reports are glowing and we normally look at each other in utter confusion at parent’s evening as the child his teacher refers to (bordering on the angelic), seems only distantly related to the one that lives with us.

And it’s not as if these first assessments will have a huge bearing on his future. I know they’re trying to make it tougher to get into Oxbridge, but it’s doubtful they’ll start introducing a minimum grade attainment at aged 6 into the selection process.

We need to get used to the pressure though. By my calculations, we’ll have the twins doing their first SATS at right about the same time that the big brother is taking entrance exams for secondary school.


History Lesson March 18, 2011

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This week, my son’s class were looking for volunteers to be interviewed about their childhood holidays. Parents were invited to join the class for 15 minutes to take questions from 24 budding travel writers.

I happily signed up, knowing it would make the big brother happy that Mummy had ‘done her bit’. It will also ease my guilt on ‘Snack Day’ when the list goes up on the classroom door asking for parents to sign up to contribute food for the end of term.

The list always has what I call the ‘working Mummy’ options of juice cartons and crisps – requiring no effort and can be bought well in advance.

Then there are the more involved plates of egg sandwiches, sausage rolls (homemade, due to pork restrictions) and fruit plates. None of which are overly tricky, but when you’re making them for 20+ children, the low-effort options are so much more appealing.

So, in search of brownie points, I arrived in class and was greeted by 24 clipboard-wielding 6 and 7 year olds.

Perched on one of their tiny-bottom chairs at an unflattering half-on, half-off angle and more than an ounce of concern that the chair may not make it through the experience; I turned my attention to the questions.

The first few were simple enough.

“Where did I go on holiday as a child?”

“What toys did I take on holiday with me?”

“Who did I go on holiday with”

And then things started to take a slightly more bizarre turn.

“Was there electricity when you were a child?”

“Had the aeroplane been invented when you were young?”

“How did you survive?”

If my son’s classmates are to be believed, twinsmummy is a throwback from the 18th century.


We made it September 16, 2010

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Tonight we share a collective family sigh of relief as the first week of the new school year is OVER. Yes, we made it. No hospital visits. No tears and tantrums. And as far as I’m aware, number 1 son is welcome to go back next week.

The fact it’s taken me four whole days to get back to writing my blog since school started, gives you some idea of how logistically challenging the experience has been. I’m sure it was far simpler in my day. Or was it just that my mother was super organised so I was never aware of the behind the scenes organisation?

The first morning was a mixture of excitement and trepidation. My husband and I agreed we’d both do the morning drop off. A united front in the face of a new year, a new teacher and a new classroom. My son was exhausted having been far too excited/nervous to go to sleep at a sensible hour the night before.

We remembered the hard way that no matter how hard we try, 45 minutes is not enough time to get a 6-year-old into his uniform and feed him a bowl of cereal. I have no idea why. I’d packed everything the night before and placed it by the front door in eager preparation. Book bag… check. PE kit… check. Swimming kit…. check. Sun hat… check. New shoes…. check. I have no idea how I’ll do it when all three of them are at school. I think I’ll have to invest in a trailer for all the clobber that’s needed.

Day one passed without a hitch and my son was positively enthusiastic about his new teacher and new subject (French). He demonstrated some of his newly learned phrases and I was relieved to hear they were actually French. You see, last year, my son told us he was learning French and was enjoying it greatly, yet we weren’t able to identify any of the words he repeated to us. A parent’s meeting two weeks into term revealed that Year 1 didn’t actually learn French, they’d started Arabic!

On day two, the keen student had become a little weary of the educational process and was starting to flag. He’d also come home with a list of activities to choose from and for our sins, we’ve chosen football, flute and Lego club. To be clear, that’s three separate after school activities. Not an amalgamation. We discounted Scottish dancing (“that’s for girls”, my son sneered), Orchestra (“I don’t play an instrument”. Fair point), and Cheerleading (unprintable response from Daddy).

He also produced a lengthy list of instructions about what kit and homework is to be produced on each day. It’s going to be like some sort of Mensa memory challenge. Some days PE kit is required to be worn on arrival, yet other days it is to be bagged up and sent in with him. We have library day, dance, football and swimming to remember. And that’s before they even start on the homework. Then there’s the sun hat and the refillable water bottles. Sun cream on especially sunny days (hmmmm, when is it not an especially sunny day in Dubai I ask myself?). And the snack box with food for two snack breaks. One to be extremely healthy, and the other packed full of additives and laced with pork… sorry, lost focus for a moment there.

So at the end of this, the first week of 10 before half term (10!), the question is… “Who is more exhausted?”. The student, or the mummy? I reckon I’m odds on favourite!


74 days June 30, 2010

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Today was the last day of term. My son has officially finished Year 1 and I can’t quite believe it.

If I’m honest, in my head he’s still in Reception and probably too little for that. Yet his uniform that dwarfed him when he started school in Dubai, now finishes several inches higher than when it was bought. His sun hat now perches on his crown rather than fitting around it, and even if he had the inclination to tuck his shirt in, it probably isn’t long enough to stay that way.

We were all asked to meet in the classroom to present his teacher and teaching assistant with thank you gifts and cards. Both of them have been fabulous teachers and having both started almost half way through the school year, had a tough task in familiarizing themselves with a new school, new curriculum and 23 lively 5 and 6 year olds. They more than deserve a few shopping vouchers. Knowing some of the children involved, an OBE wouldn’t be inappropriate.

For some reasons on occasions like these, I always have a tendency for a slightly wobbly bottom lip. My husband now flashes me a look that says, “Oh for God’s sake, please don’t blub” and I generally find a contact lense malfunction provides me with the excuse I need to look a little watery.

There’s something about the bare walls in the classroom once they’ve been stripped of all the year’s artwork that makes it all seem so final, so terminal. Coupled with the fact that most people disappear for the summer,  and some never return; it’s also an occasion filled with goodbyes and I’ve never been great at those.

But I suppose the thing that really brings a lump to my throat is the realisation that there are 74 days until school starts again.

I don’t suppose anyone fancies 3 children for 10 weeks?