Twin Discrimination?

Gardening with Kids
Elsa in the garden, Spring 2008

One of the things that’s always been a drag about having twins (oh yes she did!) is not being able to do a lot of the activities, free and otherwise, available for toddlers and young children.

When my girls were babies, I was envious of my new mom friends who could take “Mommy and me” yoga classes. As the girls got older, whoever was looking after them — Alastair or I — had to forego kids’ concerts and “art in the park” type events, music classes, etc. Keeping tabs on two lively toddlers prone to running in opposite directions simply wasn’t doable unless both of us were present. Correction: it was, strictly speaking doable. But so is wrestling a feral pig to the ground. That doesn’t mean it’s something you want to undertake on a regular basis.

And then there was the cost thing to consider. Having to shell out double tuition, even if a sibling discount was available, made a lot of activities prohibitive right off the bat. (How we’re ever going to put both of the girls through college simultaneously is beyond me.)

Now that the gals are older, the price thing isn’t any easier, but at least we have more options open to us, because we can sign them up for classes where parents don’t have to get involved. We’ve done gymnastics, and maybe in the near future, karate? The girls are also much more manageable these days, so one of us can handle taking them to a crowded, chaotic event without excessive risk of a nervous breakdown. It’s not what you’d call relaxing, but it’s not pig wrestling either.

I got thinking about the whole activities-for-twins thing again recently, when a friend sent me this article about a Brooklyn mom who thought it was “discriminatory” when she wasn’t allowed to enroll her twins in a gardening class at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. A one-adult-per-child ratio was required, so they said she’d have to hire a sitter for her kids to participate. She argued that she had lots of experience wrangling her twins — and no doubt this was true; us twin moms are probably more skilled at this than the average parent — but no dice.

Some of the comments the author got in response to her article were unforgivably nasty and judgy. They made me want to take her side. But ultimately, I couldn’t. It’s up to the class to determine what kind of parent-to-kid ratio they want, and presumably it’s based on experience. The author may be the awesomest, bravest supermom in the universe (and as far as I’m concerned, she really is brave if she’s up for supervising two two-year-olds in a large, open space where garden tools are present), but it’s not her call.

What’s interesting to me is that she frames her argument as being specifically about twins. As commenters on the article pointed out (as well as some of the folks over on the Baby Squared Facebook page), it would be the same thing if she had a two-year-old and a three-year-old (God help her).

But I think I may understand why she’s coming at it from a twins perspective: when your twins are your first and only children, the initial tendency is to compare your experience to that of singleton moms with their first (and only) child. It seems to me like maybe the author of the article is stuck in that mindset: her twins were born as a unit, she’s been raising them as a unit, and therefore there’s no reason the rest of the world shouldn’t view them as a unit.

I fall into that mindset myself sometimes. But I try to dig back out of it as quick as I can.

What do you think? Do you sympathize with the author? Is it really “discrimination” or just a bummer?

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