Second Fret: Edward and Kindergarten

Second school-related fret (first fret here), I will tell it to you:

My first two kids went to preschool. Rob did a LOT of preschool (3-year-old preschool, 4-year-old preschool, plus Summer Preschool ages 3, 4, and 5) because he had assorted developmental things such as articulation delays, suspected Asperger’s/autism, unusual fears, poor motor skills, etc., etc., and the pediatrician AND the speech therapist AND the pediatric neurologist ALL said he’d benefit from as much peer group stuff as possible.

William did less: just 4-year-old preschool. He didn’t have any of the issues Rob had, and also he’d had a sibling his whole life, and also when he was three years old Paul was out of work and I was supporting us on $8.50/hour, so preschool was out of the question that year anyway.

The twins had no preschool. It’s $300/month for 3-morning/week preschool here. Times two, is $600/month. That’s hard to justify, or even to WANT to justify, particularly for children who have one built-in peer plus three other children in the house.

So the twins started kindergarten cold, in an area where preschool is common (and of course daycare is very common too). Elizabeth is doing great, making friends left and right. She knows everyone’s name in her class, in Edward’s class (there’s a door between the classrooms, and the two classes do some things together), and on their bus. She’s confident and having a wonderful time.

Edward got referred for speech delays AND social skill delays. I know—I KNOW—this is no big deal. He registered on a screening, that’s all. And Rob was in speech therapy for more than three years, so I know it’s not scary, and it’s even the same therapist as before so I know her.

And the social skills thing, maybe it’s kind of early for them to be leaping on it, or maybe it’s nice they’re on top of things, or really I think it’s both. Won’t hurt to get right on it, and nice to have him get a little help if he’s just a bit shy or slow to start.

Nevertheless, it feels like someone yoinked him off the production line for quality control issues. It’s like they’re saying something’s wrong with him—and that it’s something obvious, something they can see at first glance.

And I am fretful because now I’m second-guessing previous decisions: Elizabeth clearly DIDN’T need preschool, but maybe Edward DID. And this is a pointless fret, because we can’t go back and change it, nor could we have seen both outcomes ahead of time and chosen the best one. We chose what we thought was the right and sensible decision—and for all we know it WAS right. Maybe preschool wouldn’t have helped ANYWAY, and we’ve saved $6,000 that we can now set aside for later therapy. But maybe it would have been PERFECT. And round and round I go.

And we had the option to put the twins in the same classroom. We went back and forth, back and forth, and finally decided to go with the school’s default of separating twins. This has worked great for Elizabeth, but maybe Edward would have done better if there was a familiar (and bossy) face to help him out. Or maybe not, because then maybe he would have depended on Elizabeth too much, or maybe this would have made Elizabeth thrive less than she has, or maybe the teacher would have seen his introversion as even more of a “problem” in the face of Elizabeth’s extroversion. But again: we couldn’t see both outcomes ahead of time, and possibly it wouldn’t have been any better the other way anyway.

24 thoughts on “Second Fret: Edward and Kindergarten

  1. debra

    This is from a former Kindergarten teacher: First of all, don’t second guess your decisions. You made the best decision you could with the information you had at the time.
    Second, even if the twins were together, most likely Elizabeth would have taken off with her friends and Edward would still be trying to work things out. I’ve seen this many times. In fact, the extraverted twin often gets upset with the introverted twin for hanging around.
    As for the speech and social skills thing–I would say they may be jumping the gun on the social skills aspect as it is only October. My own son stood against the wall in kindergarten until DECEMBER before he began to feel comfortable and he graduated from high school with great social skills–so social, in fact, we could hardly get any academic work out of him. HA!
    I would ask them for specific examples of what they are looking at and why they feel he needs support in the area of social skills. In the area of speech, there are standardized tests that can tell you if there is a delay or not. Social skills are a little more iffy.
    I won’t tell you not to worry–you’re a mom….however, I would tell you to get more information to see exactly what they are looking at.

  2. Jess

    I know it’s impossible not to second-guess your decisions, but it sounds to me like you made the best possible decisions given the circumstances, and that both of your kids are going to be just fine. It’s great for Elizabeth that she has adapted so easily–and maybe that makes Edward’s introversion seem more worrying by comparison–but it does seem to me that it’s maybe a bit early to be worried about this? He’s only been in a classroom full of other kids for a month or two, and if he’s used to Elizabeth sort of leading the way for him, then it could take him a lot longer than that to figure out how to fit in to the new social dynamic when she isn’t around. Which doesn’t mean she SHOULD be around… just that this had to happen eventually and he will figure it out. Nothing wrong with the therapy recommendation, especially if it turns out that he does have deeper issues that need to be resolved, but at this point it doesn’t sound too worrying. Though of course that doesn’t actually help you as the mom not to worry.

  3. Marie Green

    My twins WERE together, and STILL one of them cried every. single. morning. until November of her kindergarten year. I was so glad they were together (they don’t have an introverted/extroverted dynamic; they’re both pretty equal), because if they HAD been apart I’d have thought it was because I SEPARATED HER FROM HER SISTER. But it obviously wasn’t that.

    I hate the feeling of one’s child being plucked from the line due to an obvious defect. I… just SHUTTER to think that someone else doesn’t see my child as a perfect specimen, as I do. And really, I DON’T see my kids as perfect and I DON’T expect others too either, and YET. It’s a blicky feeling, that.

    So anyway, I can totally relate. You are a good, in-tune mother, who has made mature decisions based on solid information that you had at the time. What else can one do, really? (Well, except fret. CHECK.)

    Hang in there.

  4. Therese

    Dear Swistle,
    As the extroverted, female half of a set of boy/girl twins I wanted to chime in and say you are an awesome Mom and I’m sure everything with Edward will work out. I won’t outline our entire schooling career here but I will tell you that my brother and my experience sound a lot like this. I loved school, was extremely extroverted and independent and in general just thrived. My brother, though always friendly, struggled from day one and my mother still says to this day she sometimes thinks it’s a miracle he graduated. Our school only had one Kindergarten classroom, so we were together that year but not any other year,except for 3rd grade with was a disaster for ME — cant’t speak for my brother, but I hated it!), eventually my brother was held back so we were even in different grades. In HS, he transferred to a small private school (per his request as he was miserable at our large public HS). I went to college and grad school, he enlisted in the navy. We are now in our early 30’s both with good careers and loving families. We were all VERY apprehensive about the Navy and it turns out, that’s the sort of life and structure he needed. He has excelled from day 1 and just 2 weeks ago received his 2nd promotion AS AN OFFICER. I just screamed that at you because as I said, school was not his thing and he was able to advance through the enlisted ranks of the Navy and be promoted to an officer (limited duty, but still an OFFICER) without a college degree. Oh, just as an aside, like your twins we are in the middle with two older siblings and 1 younger. We all still love each other and enjoy spending time together as much as possible. Anyway, all that long story to say good luck with your twins, I think they’ll be great and hopefully a little extra help from the school system will be just what Edward needs to thrive!

  5. Bird

    So let me first say that I totally agree with the suggestions that you get more information from the teachers about what behavior/speech delays they think are there and so you can make a more informed decision about what’s going on (and of course have a more detailed fret.)

    As a former first grade teacher, hearing that you were told that Edward had some social skill delays wasn’t too alarming. I wondered if his behavior was a little out of the norm (meaning maybe he’s shy and still getting used to his classroom while the other kids are jumping in and being loud) which isn’t really a problem but something the teacher would want to mention now so that when reports go home in December and there is mention of that no one says, “well why didn’t you say something before?” Also, sometimes if there is an issue with social skills a few meetings with a counselor or therapist can help out IMMENSELY and quickly even if the issue may have corrected itself over time on its own (eg. Edward would eventually feel more comfortable by January but he might have more confidence after a session or two with the therapist to jump in with the other kids.)

    Again, its hard to know without more information but from first glance I wouldn’t stress too much. (Though I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t stress at all.)

  6. Alice

    i can’t imagine there’s any way for you NOT to worry or feel icky about the situation, but it certainly sounds to me like you’ve done everything wonderfully so far. my sister likely would have been selected as having “social skill” issues as a kindergardener if she’d been in anything but a “we love all children just the way they are” montessori school, and while she’s totally fine / social / blah dee blah now and worked it all out herself etc, i can imagine it WOULD have been helpful to have a little helpful push in the right direction for her when she was a worried little shy kindergardener. so basically i think no matter what, edward will be OK :)

  7. lifeofadoctorswife

    Oh my, no wonder this is a fret! There’s nothing to be done about it, which makes fretting pretty much the only thing to do.

    But wow, it sounds like you made the very best decisions all along the way… and I have the utmost faith that everything will work out great for both twins. (Which does nothing to stem the fretting, I’m sure. But wanted to say it anyway.)

  8. Nicole

    My kindergartener was recommended for speech and occupational therapy (for fine motor skills). He told me today that he made lots of mistakes recognizing lower-case letters. And I know, I know it is kindergarten, and that is part of the curriculum, but I can’t help thinking I should have worked more with him so he would have been better prepared. But that’s silly. Should have/would have/ could have. Whatever. Time to focus on the here and now and not worry about past decisions. I think I know how you feel, and I felt exactly like that – quality control issues – when I was told he was recommended for therapy. It’s a blah, icky feeling, but no sense in second-guessing. Also? I know you don’t ask for my opinion, but I bet that spitting the twins is the absolute right decision. My kids were in a preschool class together a couple of years ago (mixed ages) and my youngest NEVER spoke for himself. His brother always spoke for him and translated for him, etc., and it was so much better when my youngest went to preschool by himself.

  9. Omaha Mama

    I’m sorry that preschool is so expensive there! We couldn’t do that either. Sheesh. It’s $75 a month here for three mornings a week, which seems so much more realistic.

    I know that sometimes you just need to fret, so won’t try to “fix” it. But it’s so my nature. So…just think about this. If your Edward had actual development issues, you would’ve seen that. His doctor would’ve referred him for further eval, and you would’ve put him in school earlier. So no worries. It’s mild, flew under the radar, and will surely even out, developmentally, by grade two at least.

  10. LoriD

    It’s so easy to second-guess your decisions, but impossible to change them. I think it’s great that they’re identifying the issues so early in the year so they can get ironed out sooner rather than later. I was told in FEBRUARY that my oldest daughter (in JK at the time) hadn’t spoken more than five words all year. She was social at home and at the home daycare I took her to, so I didn’t know there was a problem until it was much, much too late (in my opinion). It broke my heart to think of my little girl struggling for so long and no one told me.

  11. Fran

    My first thought here was, “Maybe he’s just used to Elizabeth saying and doing all these things for him so he hasn’t needed the skill yet?” Doesn’t mean he won’t get it soon. I have subbed in a LOT of Kindergarten classes and there are kids who take longer to adjust. As Mom’s we take every )perceived or actual) slight against our kids to heart. Hang out for a while and see how it plays out!

  12. Joanne

    I feel strongly both ways. On the one hand, my son has autism and is largely non-verbal, so it has been clear to us since he was two or so that something was not quite right. I STILL feel like I should have gotten him into earlIER intervention, even though he is my first and a boy and a host of other excuses. ;) But I think early intervention is good and what could it hurt, if it’s just some mild social issues?

    On the other hand, I worked in a school for several years and I was sort of disgusted at how much was expected of young boys in Kindergarten. They were always getting in trouble in my school for being ‘impulsive’ or whatever and they were like five years old!

    But please don’t go around doubting yourself. It’s completely unproductive and a waste. I mean, I DO it all the day long, but I have strong opinions about it, anyways.

  13. Mommy Daisy

    Being a mom/parent is tough! Things like this are definitely fret worthy, though you still can’t go back in time to fix it. I have a 4 year old who is set to start K next year, cold. I’m still debating sending him to a nearby preschool for 1/2 year if I can get him in (which I probably can). I go back and forth about it constantly! Constantly!

  14. Heather R

    I’m a speech therapist. Well, now I am a stay at home mom, but I used to work as a speech therapist in an elementary school setting before becoming a mom. I was often asked to work on social skills, as in “social communication” rather than the school counselor if the social concerns were language/communication related and not due to some trauma that needed “counseling” or some other non-language type of diagnosis. So, if he ends up qualifying for speech/language therapy, the therapist can simply add in a social communication goal as well and then during small group instruction she can target skills like initiating conversation, entering a group, maintaining topic and turn-taking within a conversation, interpreting facial expressions and body language, etc etc. It’s something that can be worked on simultaneously. It all depends on what exactly they see as the issue socially. If it is just that he is shy, the small group setting may help him with that anyway without having to label it or write specific goals around social skills….I can understand how you feel though….it’s totally different being on the other side of things as a parent. They probably sent home this information without thinking of it as a big deal…just standard practice and didn’t realize how much this is impacting you!! I would ask to sit down with his teacher and just ask her what kids of things she sees before even beginning an evaluation. Just so you are not fretting!

  15. Bunnyslippers

    Well, I totally agree with Omaha mama. If it was serious you would have suspected it earlier, especially in light of your previous experience (which may not have been serious, but you did see it). If all it takes is a session or two to boost his confidence, every bit helps.

    As for splitting the twins, hubs has a twin and was always in her class. She took very good care of him. He grew up fairly clueless and a little stunted in the independence department and it took him a long time to be able to take care of himself properly. Causation or corellation, I don’t know, but I do wonder.

  16. statia

    You can’t live with regrets. Like you said, preschool is expensive. Holy hell, and we go to a “cheap” preschool. And you have a lot more kids than I do, but ask yourself, did all of the socialization in the early preschool years help Rob? I mean, I ask this partially for your own peace of mind, but also, because my son is also on the spectrum, and we started him in preschool days after he turned two, just to get him socializing, and a year and a half later, he still doesn’t really “socialize” like a typical kid.

    You’re doing what you can, and don’t ever feel bad about that.

  17. Farrell

    you have my empathy; I’m not a teacher or a mother of twins, so that’s the best I can do. I think the same way you think but I also think I would have made the same decisions you did. It just sounds like maybe Edward is taking longer to getting adjusted to Kindergarten than Elizabeth, and it might not be more than that.

  18. JEN

    My husband took speech therapy for years (pre-K up) and stayed back two years in Head Start because he was well….socially awkward.

    He graduated from MIT, but is still somewhat of an introvert.

    When did Pre-school get so darn expensive???

  19. Leeann

    I just love you. Even though I don’t have any grand suggestions for you, I worry just like that and it is so wonderful to hear you voice your worries so I don’t feel alone!

  20. 2Forgetful

    I’m in a big Mothers of Multiples club and it sounds like the B/G twin social thing is really common. One of the MOMs in my playgroup sent her B/G twins to preschool for 2 years and has been in our playgroup for 3 years. But still, her daughter (separate Kindergarten classrooms) is a social butterfly and her son hasn’t made any friends. I vaguely remember that “Raising School Age Multiples” by Christina Tinglof had some wisdom about this but of course I can’t remember.

    I have done a lot of reading on the separation issue for twins as we prepare for Kindergarten next year. Most of what I’ve come across says that B/G twins do best when separated. It’s entirely possible that if Edward had been in the same classroom as Elizabeth that they might have missed the social skills delay. One of my friends separated her twins in 2nd grade only to discover that one of her twins was really behind; her sister had been helping her with everything.

    And maybe I’m jaded but my teacher friends complain about their 3rd (and 9th!) graders that can’t read. They’re not complaining about the Kindergarteners with social or speech delays.

    You are doing a great job!

  21. d e v a n

    I used to teach Kindergarten and some kids just take longer to get on the social bandwagon. If there IS some kind of problem, you will find out and you will be able to work on it. I am guessing though, that it’s just an adjustment period.
    My 2nd son loves preschool (2 mornings a week for 3 hrs) but he never plays with the other kids.

    I definitely would not worry about the social skills thing just yet (easier said than done…)

  22. denese

    I love what everyone else is saying; you’re doing what you need to and shouldn’t worry! Halt the vicious cycle of fret. If Edward needs special attention/help from a specialized professional, he’ll get it and it’ll help him be the best possible version of himself. And hey, at least the attention isn’t because he’s a naughty jerkwad of a kid, terrorizing his classmates.

    Do you have Fretting Brownies or FretMuffins or something because I would heartily copy that recipe down for immediate reproduction.

  23. the new girl

    When I had my kid evaluated (at 10.5mos for not chewing) I KNEW that there was something wrong with her. But when they said it–the mildest, most limited deficit in all the land–I STILL felt like crying. I felt just how you describe.

    For CHEWING!

    It gave me a different type of empathy for when I have to tell the parents of the children I see Difficult Things.

    It IS a pointless fret, given that how would you KNOW the answer to any of those questions, even now? In my experience, though, most of the frets that stick in my head are those kind–the kind you can’t figure out, no matter what.

  24. CrimsonKirk

    Oh Swistle…I feel your pain! I, too, have twins, and the compare/contrast thing never ceases! I think you described how your mind spins wildly in circles over every minute parting in the road, and how it can drive you a bit crazy. And my twins did not have preschool either, for the exact same reason….#4& #5 in a family…how were we ever to afford it? It’s ridiculous! But, oh, how they would have loved it…I have often (millions) of times thought that mothers of mulitples should have a permanent discount card to everywhere – you flash it like a credit card wherever you are and they HAVE to reduce the cost of everything a bit! Sigh..wouldn’t that be dreamy…and a bit of justice, too?

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