3/21/12

Play Dates Reconsidered: Twins Need Them TOO!


After over 3 years of eating, sleeping, and playing together, my twin boys entered separate Pre-K classes. Six hours a day, five days a week. Just like that, they were on their own. I never heard them complain about missing each other.  Everyday for months, they walked into their separate classes without a fuss.  After school, they chatted about their day and the different things they did.  I assumed that everything was going smoothly. That is, until parent teacher conference last week.

Without knowing it, both teachers expressed their concerns about my boys social interaction with the kids in the class. Owen's teacher described him as shy at times. For example, when a kid says to Owen, "You can't play with us!", he accepts the order and plays alone, instead of sticking up for himself and saying, "Yes I can!". When Oscar's teacher asks everyone to find a partner, he doesn't know who to choose. It broke my heart when Oscar's teacher told me he usually gets the "left over kids". So sad! To think that the term "left over" could be applied to kids! But I understand her point. He's never really needed to seek out a partner. He always had his brother.

Here's the kicker. Oscar's teacher asked me, "Has Oscar ever had a play date with someone in the class?" Nope! Not one. Sure, he runs around the playground after school with his classmates, but he's never actually had an official play date. His teacher suggested he should start having play dates with classmates to form solid friendships outside of the school setting. This will translate to stronger friendships in the school. Ohhh. So play dates aren't some awful invention made up by modern moms to make life more difficult? They actually have a real purpose? I must have missed that.

After skimming over articles about twins, I realized it's really common for parents, like me, to assume that their twins don't need play dates. Why should they? They have a built-in best friend. But that's actually not true. They have a built-in brother. A friend is something entirely different.

Perhaps the same could be said for siblings close in age?

So yesterday, Oscar had his first play date with his classmate Jared. Alone! He was so excited.  They played in the park, got flavored ice, and went back to Jared's penthouse (oh la la) to play with toys. I picked him up at 4:30. In the mean time, I relished my time with only two kids.

This morning when I dropped off Oscar at his classroom, Jared let out a huge, "OSCAR! Hi!"  That's never happened before. I guess play dates work. Lesson learned. Owen's next!


43 comments:

  1. So sweet! I love reading your blog.You are real and not just writing about your "outfits" and the fancy things you may own. From all the way in Vancouver,Canada.You rock!

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  2. Interesting. I'm interested now to find out what Jen and I did. I remember having a little best friend in my K class (Marie) and then Jen and I had shared friends in our neighborhood. We'd all hang out, ride bikes, etc. Then we moved in 2nd grade and Tasha was in my class. She became our "shared" best friend until 7th grade. But I wonder if Jen had a best friend in her class too. I'm going to have to ask my mom.

    Sounds like your boys will be just fine! But it's a good reminder to me that playdates are important. My kids are best friends (age 4,3,2) and so sometimes I don't worry too much about playdates. I think it used to be more safe to just let kids go out and play in the neighborhood alone and now it's not really like that...well and especially not in NYC.

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  3. Love the way you telll your story. You're such a good mom. Sorry for my bad english...i'm portuguese...
    love following your twins and your family.
    http://giragirassol.wordpress.com/

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  4. thank you!! such a nice comment :)

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  5. ANG! Hi! miss you!

    I'm very interested to find out what you and jen did too.

    yeah--kids don't start playing alone in NYC until 5th grade or 6th grade. Until then they have to be watched like hawks! ha :)

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  6. wow! this is awesome! i have 1 year old twins but they are boy and girl so it will be interesting to see if they have any challenges similar to this. I also think play dates are just more work! thanks for the laugh and happy for you!

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  7. Ditto! You're family is adorable, and you keep it real. This was really eye-opening, I kind of have the same attitude towards play dates. Although, we're still at the point were the play dates we make are mostly to hang out with parents who just happen to have a kid the same age as ours :)

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  8. Aw, congrats to Oscar on his new friend!

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  9. Sharon I loved loved this post. The same is true when kids get older. My family moved when we were going into middle school and we never really started over again. I am a twin and even in high school people never really invited my sister and me to do things with them (and I was wayyy to uncomfortable to invite myself). It resulted in me only really having one friend through out high school with a few distant acquaintances. (my sophomore year our lunches got separated and I ended up eating lunch by my self in the library. Sad.)
    I really like your point a twin not a built in friend it’s a built in brother or sister which is great but it does not compensate for friends. Most people need other people to interact with besides just family. Good job. :)

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  10. I love your post today! I have twin boys in kindergarten and so far all of their friends, both from school and around our neighborhood, have been shared. I had just assumed they will make their own friends once they enter separate first grade classes. But after reading about your experience I realize that might be the case! It will be interesting to see if my husband and I will need to step in and find ways for our boys to build independent friendships. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. Sharon, one of my favorite posts from you. Twins or not, this is helpful insight for all moms. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. loved this post. (ps my first comment!) plus oscar & owen's hair in the picture above just kills me. i love it.

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  13. Lucy and Lane's teachers said pretty much the exact same thing at their conferences! Except, how do I coordinate separate play dates when in NY, you're expected to go along on the playdate, for the most part? Do I bring along my other 3 kids? It's a little bit stressful to me, figuring this all out.

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  14. Omg, the story makes me heart break a little. How complicated it seems! Twins lives have got to be a little hard finding their independence. But maybe it's like the bond we have with our mothers, it works out with enough thoughtfulness.

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  15. Sharon,

    I really love reading about your adventures as a family in NYC and this post was great. I'm a preschool teacher and while we preach the 'playdate,' I never thought how beneficial it would be for twins; this is so true. I'm so happy to hear it worked out for Oscar and that he's made a new friend.

    Sidenote: there's a little boy named Oscar in the classroom next to mine and for awhile I thought it was your Oscar! Not so though...

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  16. I have 12 week old twins and love reading your blog. I have to say though, reading that a teacher used the term 'left-over kids' breaks my heart...I'm guessing that teacher doesn't have kids of her own...

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  17. thanks for reading. And yes, you're right. She doesn't have any kids. haha

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  18. Hi Hailey! that's so funny your girls had the same thing said. Maybe we can work something out!

    I've had to do a crash course on playdates this past week. Here's what I learned:
    *parents are not exspected to go on the playdate. most of the time it's drop off. Maybe the first one if you want to check out the house. Or if you want to!
    *The person requesting the playdate usually hosts the playdate. I just learned this today! I feel so embarrassed that i didn't follow this rule with Oscar! Usually the other person will eventually host the playdate in return, but no always :)
    *have the playdate midweek and pick the kid up from school. that seems to be the way kids do it at my school.

    as you can see i'm an expert on playdates after having my first one.

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  19. i like that "it works out with enough thoughfulness"

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  20. thanks for your comment. wouldn't that be cool if it was my Oscar?!

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  21. hi SHAYLA!! i'm honored to have a comment from you on my blog :)

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  22. oh my-- those videos of the boys walking on your blog-- so cute!!!

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  23. Thanks for your lovely and honest post. I hadn't thought about playdates with (in my case) preschool friends either and I've had similar feedback regarding my little one Milla. Am from New Zealand where playdates are a bit more informal - basically you say "I'm coming!" then walk into their house :) so need to make this happen! Good luck to your sweet boys x

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  24. Wow, that´s amazing to read. I have two younger brothers and we are now 30,29 and 27. So very close in age. I just talked to my younger brother yesterday, saying that it feels so nice to never need to have a close friend around, because we have each other around all the time (we live in the same city very close to each other). But thinking about our time in school we really always were the "outsiders". So play-dates seem to be the key to solving this "problem".
    Greets from Germany!

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  25. This is a sweet story (playdates! who knew?), but am I the only person that's completely floored by the teacher's comments? Is it seriously a parent-teacher conference type of issue that a child doesn't find a partner quickly enough when he's asked to? And to refer to ANY of your students as "leftover kids" is just unacceptable. What was she thinking, saying something like that?! I live in NYC and I seriously thought that the most stressful part of putting kids in school here would be finding a good, not-too-expensive school that actually had vacancies available. I'm beginning to think that's really naive of me.

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  26. This is great information for future reference. I have 5 month old identical twin boys and I admittedly have no clue when it comes to twins. I also have a 5 year old son who has been without siblings for so long that he has no problem making friends with anyone. I would have never thought that the twins would be any different.

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  27. Thanks! Your swing video is pretty cute, too!

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  28. I thought the exact same thing when I read "left-over kids":( Does that make Oscar a "left-over kid" according to her?...Boooo:(

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  29. I have to agree! I don't even have kids, and have no plans to have any, but I find your posts real and very interesting! Keep up the great work!

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  30. LOVE that they're in different classes!!! My mother made sure that my sister (fraternal twin) and I were in different classes from first through fifth grade. It let us become just KRISTI to others -- not KIM AND KRISTI. Once we hit middle school and high school we still sporadically had some classes together out of necessity, but at least throughout elementary school we could estabilish our own identity. Not like people couldn't tell us apart with my flaming red hair, but it's still different to have to branch out on our own.

    We didn't really have "play dates" back then, but had enough kids in the neighborhood and on soccer teams to really build friendships. Now with twins on the way myself, I need to remember all of these things from Mom! So thanks! Good to see great minds think alike!

    Kristi
    www.redheadrace.blogspot.com

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  31. What an insightful comment that teacher made!

    And go Oscar! Way to make those friends! You rock!

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  32. Thank you for this post. I have twin three-year old boys and yes, they are inseparable. They are each other's playmate and it has crossed my mind that they will one day form new friendships, or maybe not. But your teacher was right, they need to be able to do that early on in the event they are separated in school, and they will be some day.


    May

    PS - I love your blog. I also love NYC and have visited twice, just my husband and I. I love seeing NYC through your world because it is still new and exciting to you. I am thinking about our next visit already.

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  33. YAYY, Oscar!!!

    Just want to put in my two-cents worth as an educator - playdates are great for shifting the social landscape in class. Of course, kids should learn to play on their own too and not have their days filled with playdates. However, as many friendships (at any age) are built through shared experiences, playdates are great for making friends. I would also recommend them to kids who are introverts (as an introvert myself!) as one-on-one play really allows them to socialize on "their terms" and not get lost in the shuffle of large groups.

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  34. Wow! I never thought about that! This was a fascinating blog post. :)

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