Saturday, November 06, 2010

i KNEW this day would come

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but our children are all in the same kindergarten class.

We made this decision for two reasons, 1) there were only two kindergarten teachers and 2) after having gone through the Montessori experience of three separate children in three separate classrooms and birthday parties that exceeded 75 children ... we thought we'd make things easier for ourselves.

Recently, we were at an event where we met someone who had an only-child, a little girl, the exact same age as our trio. As the children played together, I very quickly noticed that the little girl was interfacing only with Carolyn. Whenever Elizabeth or William would want to join in to the mix, the little girl would grab Carolyn by the arm and run in the exact opposite direction. Then she'd smile and say, "Carolyn is my BEST friend. I don't want to play with you, two!"

My maternal alarms were on high alert as I recognized it wasn't long before William blew the girls off and went to go find something else to do. But I could tell that Elizabeth was heartbroken. So, I stepped in and had to resist the temptation to pummel the little girl TO THE GROUND.

I called Carolyn aside and said, "Look, I know that you are having so much fun playing and I'm really glad to see you happy, but you need to know something: Elizabeth is your sister and your sister is your best friend. NO ONE should ever come between the two of you. Do you understand? Right now her feelings are really hurt because you aren't playing with her. Can you imagine what it would feel like if she had a new friend that was pulling her away from YOU?"

Carolyn looked at her sister, and it seemingly dawned on her, what had been happening and she slowly nodded in agreement. My heart soared as she walked over, embraced her sister in a tight hug, and for the rest of the day, the two were inseparable.

***********

Yesterday, I happened to snap this picture, as the children were charging off the school bus. What I didn't know when I took the picture is that the slip of paper Carolyn is pulling out of her backpack, is an invitation for a play date at one of her classmates homes.

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It appears, only Carolyn was invited.

William could care less and skipped the whole way home. Elizabeth, meanwhile, cried the whole way home. And aside from telling my daughter about how wonderful she was and how any girl would be extremely lucky to be her friend, I was torn with what to do?

First and foremost, I don't want to send my child to a play date at a classmate's house, wherein I do not know the classmate OR her parents, OR any one that might be frequenting the house.

What if there is a pedophile living there, or thereabouts? What if there are guns? What if there is leftover Halloween candy, laying around hither tither? What if there are any bad things that I can't quite think about right now, but surely exist?

Second and equally foremost, while I think I want to support my children growing independently of each other, do I *really* want my children to grow independently of each other? Do I really want for each one of my children to establish their own social circles?

What if their social circles don't mesh?

What if one feels left out?

WHAT THEN?

Do I withdraw all my children from school and home school?!

Do I allow my one child to develop a friendship sans her siblings, or do I suggest, instead - that this solo friend come over to OUR house for a play date? Do I write to the mother and tell her, "Sure! We'd love to come over and have a play date. But oh, by the way, there are actually four children that will be in attendance. Hope you don't mind! "

I don't have the answer to this.

I hope you do.

If so, please tell me.

77 comments:

  1. My twins started pre-school this year. We are dealing with some of this currently. I have decided at this point that it's ok for my sons to have different friends. They are different little boys and I feel it's ok for them to have different friends. However, I do not want one or the other being mean or shunning the other one. Which I believe has happened. I like you explained that they are brothers and would always be brother. Friends come and go brothers are forever.

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  2. As a mom of many, we too teach our children that family is first and the friendships we make within our family are the ones that (for good or bad) last our entire lives. You're on the absolute right track with that.
    I am also, a momma that is very concerned about sending my kids to another child's home/birthday party/etc, etc, etc without knowing the parents well. A couple of things that I have done are: Asked to meet at a park or other neutral area so that I can visit with the mom/dad while the kids play. That way I don't feel like I'm overwhelming them in their home...or as you suggested, offer to invite the child/family over to have a playdate at your home.
    I am really hoping the lack of invitation for Elizabeth is simply an oversight on the part of the momma...not knowing that Carolyn has a sister the exact same age. If it's not, that would be a deciding factor for me...harsh? Maybe, but my world isn't about exclusion...it's about including and loving everyone...especially the sister of my daughter's friend. :)
    And just to reaffirm your same class decision...YES! Simplify!!! Same homework, same friends, same classroom atmosphere, one class party and only ONE teacher gift. You are wise indeed.

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  3. Oh Jen,
    I know that feeling and I wish I had the almighty answer. I would say no to the play date and invite the little girl to your house. That way all of the children are there. I know there will come a time that they will develop their own circle of friends but right now they are so impressionable and being left out from your sibling that your shared the womb with just breaks my heart. So for now I do as you are doing. Your sister is your best friend and nothing should come between the three of you. These waters seem to be harder the older they get. I thought it was suppose to be easier!?!

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  4. I'd like to know what you decide. Our twins are in a 3's preschool class this year and the teachers put them at separate lunch tables, and are encouraging me to schedule separate play dates. It's so new and hard for us!

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  5. I would consider how you would treat it if they were not triplets, or if it was William's friebutane one or both girls was upset they were excluded. I realize the "but that's not the situation!" argument, but as you said, that day is here and there is a decision to be made about how you approach their developing friendships outside the family. Viewing it from another angle may help you come to a conclusion.

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  6. Let's put it this way; If you had 3 kids (not triplets) you would not be in this situation. You wouldn't bat an eye that one child was invited one place and not another child. Why? Because your kids have different friends. Plain and simple. You ARE grouping them together. You ARE prohibiting their individuality for now. Do I agree with it? No. But I am not a parent of multiples :)

    But if it is what work for you, then that's what you do. I don't see why one should miss out just because the other has not made an "outside" friend yet. (just my opinion)

    As for the playdate? I think it's perfectly fine to contact the parent and be 100% honest - you don't feel comfy with sending your kid(s) to a house where you don't know the family. Ask her to come to YOUR house because you have 3 kids and it would work out so much better for you.

    -Sherry

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  7. You let Carolyn go if you are comfortable sending her to the home. The decision shouldn't revolve around the other kids. She was invited. It will come up with birthday party invitations and everything else involved in social situations. It isn't fun; but they are unique and different people in addition to being triplets and siblings.

    With having four myself I often say 'it's easier to have 8 kids here, than 5' That way I don't have to play police officer and constantly deal with someone feeling left out or getting his/her feelings hurt.

    Maybe try to arrange for someone to come over and play with Elizabeth while Carolyn is at her playtime.? That way she is fostering her own friendships.

    GAH.....parenting is just tricky!

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  8. From my perspective, I don't see any reason to believe this advice is bad, so:
    I think you've already found a temporary answer for this particular situation: introduce yourself to the parents, invite the girl over and try to see if you can prevent any tears during the visit. The fact that this hurt will come up again later isn't any reason not to try and prevent it now. I assume they will almost certainly form their own groups (I'm sure you can think of examples among your own siblings), some separate from each other, but that, in itself, does not have to be painful! Obviously, at the moment, this particular situation is.

    There, see? Problem solved, forever! If only you could ask more childless people for parenting advice ;)

    (p.s. living in Australia, I am totally flailing over all the pictures of your now-local greenery and trees. Beautiful scenery in your area!)

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  9. I think kids have a right to have their own friends. I wouldn't try to make the girls share friends. That approach can not be sustained over time -- and who knows what kind of backlash could occur? Might grow to resent each other for not being allowed other friends? Might view other friends as bad and insulate and not learn how to develop other friendships? Who knows? At the end of the day they are 2 unique people - it only makes sense that they'd identify and connect with different people some of the time. I bet they end up sharing plenty of friends too.

    Bigger issue to me is the playdate at the house when you don't yet know the family. I'd want to go with on that first playdate - but will need to then organize someone to be with the other children - so that is hard. Is it too late in the season to do a neutral park playdate??? That would be a nice solution. I totally agree that sending a kid to a house you've never been to with people you don't know . . . . not an option.

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  10. Since it's late here (west coast) and I'm ready for bed, I'll make this short and sweet.

    This day has come and will continue to come.

    Even with non twin/triplet/etc kids (K and 2nd grade), they feel left out when they are not invited to parties that their siblings get invited to. I'm not sure there is a way to avoid this. My son has also had his feelings hurt that other boys not wanting to play/be friends, etc. We just try to talk alot about words, how things feel when you say certain things to others, and what we can control about ourselves. Just like my 5 and 7 year olds, your kids are individuals; and therefore, have different personalities, likes/dislikes, etc. - they are bound to eventually be drawn towards different activities and different people.

    Your beautiful girls will ALWAYS be best friends (they make not always get along, though!); but I am sure that they will have other/different friends. Feelings will be hurt, tears will be shed. But at the end of the day, through their entire life; they will have each other.

    Perhaps the parent was unaware of the triplets? (Some parents are clueless.) I felt the same concern about playdates once my son started K; we'd only done playdates with good friends. I think as you get to know your school/neighborhood and as they get older, you will get more comfortable with new experiences. Obviously, their well-being is paramount; so whatever you have to do to ensure their safety/security - DO IT. Let the other parent know your concerns - perhaps meet at a park first or have them other for coffee. K is still really young (in my opinion) for drop-off playdates with new classmates. As we've gotten to know the kids' friends' parents over the years; we have learned who (and who NOT) we will facilitate drop playdates for. I just let my kids know that we don't know the other families well enough for it to happen yet. And, for some of the kids, I hedge my bets that we don't HAVE to get to know them. (If you know what I mean!)

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  11. That is a tough one. It is hard the first time but it gets easier as time passes. I have twin girls and a little boy. The first time only one of the girls was invited I was tempted to send both but then I realised that as I did not want to them to be seen as a unit I will have to send the one to the party without her sister. What I did then and still do now is that I take the other 2 children out for something different but also very nice. It can be a walk in the park or going shopping for something they want. Nobody then misses out. The party child comes back happy and they other 2 are happy too.
    Good luck. Oh, and my children are now 13, 13 and 10 and it happens more as they have very different friends (but also a core of communal friends)

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  12. Okay, Jen. You know I am honest to a fault and I think you messed up royally when you told Carolyn to stop playing with her new friend. They are not conjoined. Carolyn has every right to make friends with other children. Her sister absolutely MAY NOT be her best friend someday. It's entirely possible they will even hate each other for several years. I punched my sister square in the face when we were teenagers.

    You don't get to choose your family. You get to choose your friends. Instead of jumping on Carolyn for having a friend, you should have been consoling Elizabeth and telling her that it is okay for her sister to play by herself with someone and she'll make her own friends too.

    If Elizabeth can't handle seeing her sister make bonds with others, then you need to separate them so Elizabeth learns to make bonds with others.

    I don't know about sending your child off on a playdate to someone's house that you don't know the parents, but I would encourage you to get to know the parents and let your children go on individual playdates.

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  13. this is a tough one... i suspect you knew that and you have known this day would come... Maybe Elizabeth can have a friend over while Carolyn is gone? Then when the sisters are back together later have them talk about what they did when they were apart. It is healthy for them to develop apart and to "claim" their own personalities. Doesn't mean they aren't best friends, just means its good for them to have some time apart from one another. Every day, all day? Nah, probably too young for that. Unfortunately there will be birthday parties and dances and outings that all 3 can't go to or aren't invited to. Find something "special" the uninvited can do. Life is tough out there! there will be tears and pouting. You know all 3 are as different as night and day, they will have different friends and circles as they grow up. Good luck with this, mom and dad!

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  14. I have 2 little girls & right now they're just 3 years old. I never even considered how this would one day be likely to happen. I did think about how they'll probably fight over a boy they both like in their teens or something but one of them getting left out due to the friend of one not liking the other... well it didn't even cross my mind until now. How sad! I have zero advice I'm sorry but I do now very much look forward to hearing the responses from those who do!

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  15. Wow, are your kids not going to be allowed to make individual friends? Really?? They are going to be required to be each other's best friend and anyone else who tries to be friends with one of them is going to be (mentally) pummelled to the ground? I would not take that approach, myself.

    I do agree with you about the playdate where you don't know the family yet. I might consider asking if we could meet at the park the first time "so we can get to know each other a little bit," or inviting the kid (with parent) to our house, or something. It is nice to meet other families. I haven't encountered this one yet.

    Leslie

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  16. Courtney in Crete11/7/10, 2:07 AM

    I think yes, you absolutely need to encourage the kids to develop solo friendships. You would if they were singletons, wouldn't you? But I'm not sure I'd let my kindergartner go on a playdate at a stranger's house.

    Do you read DaMomma? She just had a post on her safe list that really resonated with me. I agree with her, too, that kids get plenty of socialization at school and don't really _need_ playdates.

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  17. This is hard, and made harder by the fact that you have three the same age and in the same class but,

    BUT

    They will have different friends and they will have different social circles. You cannot expect your individual and unique children to have the same taste in friends. Nor can you expect them to tag onto their siblings playdates (and they wouldn't get many invitiations once the word went out).

    If you had 4 children of different ages this wouldn't even occur to you. My three children have to accept that one has a friend over to play and the other two don't. My kids happen to be rather good at playing together and including the child that has come to play but not all families manage that. If yours is one that doesn't then you have to get clever. Organise for the most left out child to go out with a parent or to the house of his/her best friend or do something like baking in the kitchen, while the friend and your child are left to play in peace. It's all part of growing up.

    I would disagree that your childre have to be each others best friends. Teach them to be supportive and understanding and in situations like the one in the park for certain, but don't force them to become insular.

    As to the paedophile question, I would say you are massively overreacting. It is far less likely to happen than you think, less likely that breaking an arm on a trampoline for instance, which is more likely to happen at someone elses house. And there a multitude of ways of living and your children will come up against them starting now. It is exciting as a a child to see how others live and reassuring to come home and find that your home hasn't changed. It goves you lots of opportunities for talking about differences and dangers and what the difference between something that is different to their home and something that is dangerous.

    Some-one once wrote - "Your children are not you children". A beautiful poem and one that i remember when I am tempted to hide my children away form the world. They are living their lives, not mine and I cannot live theirs for them.

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  18. It is a crushing experience...of which I had with my twin daughters..30+ years ago..let them spread their wings..make new.. different friends.."childhood friends" are forever friends:)

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  19. I don't have any sound advice. HOWEVER, growing up with three girls in the house, my parents instilled in us from being very little that NO ONE comes above our sisters. There was a 2,5 age year difference amongst all of us, but still I had to bring my sisters to a lot of play dates or I couldn't go. There were days I didn't mind, and other days where I was livid. BUT, today, I couldn't be more thankful to my parents. Having moved throughout the world and to so many different cities, I have made and lost a lot of friends. No matter what though, my sisters will always hop on an airplane when I am feeling sad or need help with whatever it may be! I think teaching your kids that they are the most precious thing to one another and will always have to be there for one another is one of the biggest gift you can give them! The result will last a lifetime!

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  20. Wow, that is a tough call. I love how you pulled her aside and explained that sisters are forever.

    I have BBG so I think boys are a little more laid back on that issue.

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  21. Nope. No answer. I have a set of 9 year old ggb trips and we have had the same issue since kindergarten. Anya is always the one the girls want to play with and Sophia is always left out. I have had the "your sister is your best friend" talk more times than I can count. It is so heartbreaking. I let Anya go to the play dates - I didn't want her to resent her sister... it is so hard. Good luck and I can't wait to read others comments - maybe I can get some advice too. BTW the brother has never really cared.

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  22. Michele / Leslie: I didn't tell Carolyn that she couldn't play with her new friend. I'm definitely interested in letting our children grow, individually. HOWEVER, the little girl that was playing with Carolyn was acting UGLY to the other two, and I wouldn't put up with it.

    My kids need to know that FAMILY comes first. And if there is someone that is intentionally trying to drive a wedge between them, they need to make it stop. Or, I will. Because I'm ALWAYS watching...

    I told Carolyn that ELIZABETH is her best friend. Yes, I'm sure they'll have phases where they aren't always close, but I'm going to wager that the bond between my two girls will be stronger than the bond they develop with ANY friends, later in life. I'm certainly going to do whatever I can to help facilitate the lesson of family comes first.

    Always. Always. Always.

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  23. PS: I just happened to see this the other day. I don't think I'm overreacting, or overly cautious, but if I am, SO BE IT. I'd rather err on the side of safety.

    It is estimated that as many as 40 million Americans, one in six people, experienced sexual victimization as children.

    • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually victimized before age 18.

    • The most common ages of children when sexual abuse occurs are between 8 and 12.

    • Child sexual abuse is seldom a one-time occurrence, and lasts and average of 1 to 4 years.

    • 75% to 80% of all children assaulted or abused were victimized by someone they knew.

    • One of five rape victims is under age 12; 10% of all are under age 5.

    • Over 80% of offenders first offended by the age of 30 years.

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  24. I've got a lot to say. I have one son and three daughters. I grew up with no sisters, four brothers. Watching the interaction between the three girls has intrigued, flustered, and awed me because I feel like I'm so inexperienced when it comes to girl stuff. As they creep closer to being teenagers I start to sweat just thinking about it.

    Three things I'd like to share. One, they are all VERY different, and from what I can see, our oldest daughter, being sweet, shy and quiet, deals much better one on one with one friend, and we work with that as much as we can. The second daughter is social, outgoing, sunny and a leader who everyone calls to have over, wants to play with and cares about her opinion. We have to slow her down. The third is only four, but I can already see she is more similar to the second. So my point is, they are very, very different and should have different friends and situations from each other. And lots of talking and explaining that life is not going to be exactly fair or the same all the time.

    Two, I always say, "You are family. That comes first before anything else." I do not mean they have to be each other's best playmate type friends all the time, but if there is a situation where one is being hurt, say teased on the bus or something, they need/have to stick up for one another. (I'm almost afraid to say they need to be best friends because if feels like I am forcing something that I really really hope happens and doesn't always.)

    And third...I've said this so often the girls roll their eyes: "All I've ever wanted in my life was a sister, so you don't know how blessed you are! GET ALONG!!!"

    And third,

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  25. I can totally relate to the fear of unknown when it comes to new friends and more importantly new friends family members. But I think yes, you do need to let your kids have their OWN friends. Yours children should recognize that they have a built in best friend and that they need to not take it for granted, but you shoudl be able to remember as a child how it feels to have a BEST FRIEND other then your sibling.

    Allow your children the ability to grow a friendship in this way nonindependent of their siblings.

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  26. It doesn't seem very constructive in the long run to tell Carolyn she can only be friends with, and have playdates with, girls who also want to be friends with Elizabeth. They're not the same person! They'll have different interests, and their personalities will mesh with different kids. If my brother and I had been forced to go only on playdates where we were both invited, we would have both been utterly miserable, as we liked completely different kids and completely different activities.

    It's hard for Elizabeth now, but maybe tomorrow it will be Carolyn who is left off the swim team, or whose art isn't chosen to hang in the hallway at school. Such is life.

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  27. I'm sure it is painful to watch your kids grow through this unpleasant experiences. I'm not a mother, so I truly can't say too much. I will say to be cautious, however, about "forcing" (I say that in the best way possible!) the relationship between your daughters at the expense of other relationships. I have a sister that is not much younger than me. I really resented her at times because she always had to tag along, or because I had to make plans around her. It was even more complicated, in my mind, because I was naturally more social and made friends more easily. She did not. It wasn't always easy.

    We are still close today, and of course, I don't feel that way anymore. But I do think it is important to let them grow separately from one another - you know they will come back to one another. It hurts. It's hard. But it is something they'll have to deal with at some point.

    I completely agree about family being first, and know exactly what you are meaning. I think possibly it came across differently than you meant, which is why you got some strong comments from others. I wonder how your girls interpreted what you were trying to say?

    Good luck! I do admire how hard you work to raise children with truly good hearts.

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  28. My twin boys are the same age, but we put them in separate kindergarten classes.
    One of my sons just got invited (and went) to his first birthday party without his brother.
    For us, we feel that our boys need to develop their own friendships and part of that means that they go on playdates individually. In our case, we let our other son decide what he wants to do for the two hours that his brother was gone. We also explained that there will be times when he will be invited and his brother won't.

    They do everything else together -- soccer, tennis, gymnastics, baseball, swimming. Being in school separately is the only time for them to shine as individuals and to make new friendships individually. I worry that if we only let our little guys go on the same playdates, then we are limiting the ability of our more socially awkward child to make friendships, which is not good for either of them.

    I agree that you have to be vigilant about sexual offenders, but I don't see how "knowing" the mom by having one playdate protects you more than just going over and meeting the parents before dropping your DD off.

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  29. unless you have already received a school directory which lists all of the classes/students, i wouldn't assume that the little girl (or her mother) who invited your daughter for a play date even knows you HAVE triplets. based on the fact that your daughter came home with a handwritten note inviting her over (how quaint, but really, my kids' play dates are all arranged over the phone or email), it sounds like you don't have a phone directory yet, so there's no tangible way for the mom to even know you have triplets (unless you're assuming this other 5 yr old knows and told her mother, as opposed to "mommy, i really like this one little girl, can i invite her over?"). also, since your kids ride the school bus, you (charlie) don't get the vital interaction that occurs at school drop-off/pick-up where you get to scope out the other parents/siblings, etc (another way for fellow parents to see that you have multiples).
    i'm putting myself in the shoes of the other mother and seeing how easy it would be to extend an invitation (via paper because i don't have your phone number or email) and only invite one child because i don't know you have more children. now say i *did* know they were multiples, i'd also probably inadvertently offend you by inviting only one child because i don't have multiples and therefore don't understand the concept of "they're a package deal".
    whatever you decide, just be consistent. the comments that resonate the most with me are the ones encouraging you to allow your children to develop as individuals while still maintaining the safety net of the family at home.

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  30. If my mother had forced me to drag my sister everywhere with me as a child and forced my sister on me, I would hate her today. My sister IS one of my closest friends simply because we have shared a lifetime of similar experiences not because my mother didn't allow us to have other friends or experiences outside of each other.

    Also, I stand by my disbelief that you think the girls HAVE to be bestfriends. That just blows my mind. That is so unfair. I try to picture my childhood without my bestfriend, because my mother wouldn't have allowed it, and I can barely breathe.

    Also, I was going to mention to you that since Charlie is the primary caregiver, you are going to run into a lot of issues with parents letting their girls come to your house for playdates. I see it with Patrick's dad, my neighbor. Emma is allowed to come to my house and play with Austin, but she is not allowed to go to Patrick's house because Scott is the only one home with them. Scott is great and I left Austin and my other kids go there, but I know him very, very well.

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  31. I think it is very important for multiples to make separate friends. I only have twins, but they like having individual friends and getting invited to their "own" birthday parties/playdates,etc...It makes them feel "special" I think when they are treated like individuals and not as multiples.

    It sounds like Carolyn is just more social and has an easier time meeting people and making friends. Maybe separating Carolyn and Elizabeth in the future is an option??? I have handled the situation you had at the park like you did, but as my twins got older I decided that wasn't fair of me...Carolyn IS Elizabeth's sister, but there is no rule saying she can't run off and play with other kids. It's tough to watch sometimes, but I think it's soooo important for them to form their own identities outside of being "multiples" and to be independent and social enough to go out and make their own friends. They will always be multiples and have a special bond because of that, but like all siblings, they aren't always going to like each other.

    How about letting Elizabeth pick someone from their class to invite over for a playdate? That might make her feel better and give her a chance to make a new friend in her own home where she is more confident and comfortable.

    Kelly(Houston)

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  32. I have identical twins in 2nd grade. (They were together in K too, but are now in classrooms next door to each other.) This hasn't happened a whole lot for us, but I actually don't mind. If one child gets invited on a playdate, I allow the other one to invite a friend over HERE during that same time. Would that work? Letting her invite a friend over while her sister is at her playdate?

    I don't let my kids got to other people's houses we don't know either, unless I've met the parents. I usually have good senses about people, so I use that as my compass. But this is a very small town, so even if I don't know someone, I often know OF them.

    I don't think both girls should have to be invited. My girls actually NEED some time apart (I think when the both go on a playdate, they fight over their friend a little... and while I think this is natural and normal for twins to do, I think it's hard on the friend to feel like they are asking her to choose or putting her int he middle.)

    My other suggestion, if you don't want her going to that friends house, is to invite that friend to your house and have your other daughter invite a friend over too. Three's a crowd, after all, especially with little girls. (And maybe tell William that he can have a playdate another day, so it's not SO many kids at once?)

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  33. My kids bring home notes like this all the time and unless I get a call from the parent directly I don't even pay attention to it.

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  34. Oh, one other things: kids at this age have a very hard time having more than one friend. Usually that one friend is whoever is in front of them. They see the world in absolutes, so having more than one friend is a hard concept to grasp. I think it's normal and natural (again, especially for little girls) to claim a "best friend". This "best friend" changes from day to day, so it only means "you are the one friend I am playing with right now."

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  35. I totally understand your worries about sending your child on a playdate where you know nothing about the family. There have been great suggestions in the comments on that.
    I do not, however, understand that you have concerns regarding your daughters having separate friends!
    There are two things I would like to put out for your consideration. But first let me tell you hat I have a sister very close in age myself. We are best friends today. Regardless we have never shared friends during school life and both learned that family comes first. Yet I think of her as my best friend also.
    First thing: having separate firends might help your children develope on a social level because evey person you meet encourages different sides of your personality. Which would help both your daughters.
    Secondly, if your daughters argue, which they will over time, it might help them to have someone to turn to outside of their home. Because, let's face it, once they are teenagers they will not turn to you for support anymore. You may be able to break up their fights now, but who can tell how long it stays that way?
    Additionally, why do you think that having friends outside of your family is bad? Not having triplets you would probably never have thought about sharing friends. And friends from preschool will most likely be temporary. I can not recall still being friends with any of them today. But I sure am still in contact with my family :)
    Just don't be worried about that sisterly bond as much. It will develop. And it might be stronger if they see themselves reflected in others during times instead of being confined to only having one friend, your sister.
    You will raise wonderful, spirited, strong and social children who take over your value of familiy first, having other friends won't change that. Mommy guilt does not help here.

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  36. Michele - Something is being lost in translation. Perhaps I shouldn't say that I expect Elizabeth & Carolyn will be BEST friends. I know that they are going to have other friends in life, and hopefully, they will form very strong bonds with others outside of our family circle.

    I am not FORCING one on the other. If Elizabeth or Carolyn want to have friendships independently of each other, they should and I will encourage that the best I can. But I will not tolerate it when I see that they are intentionally excluding someone, with the purpose of causing hurt. That's what I saw last month with the little girl the same age. It was very UNCOOL and it's not going to happen.

    The point I'm trying to make is that they are FAMILY and FAMILY comes first. We look out for each other, we support each other, we help each other when one is down.

    I'm trying to teach these children that the purpose of a family is to love and encourage each other, both physically AND emotionally. Sure, things will change over time. But right now, these are the lessons that I'm trying to instill, that will hopefully, last their lifetimes.

    Still not sure what I'm going to do about the playdate. I'm definitely going to reach out to the mother and let her know about our family unit, but I wouldn't even suggest that BOTH girls attend the function.

    I think it would be great for Carolyn to have some "alone" time with a friend, so I don't think I'd host the play date here - because that one-on-one dynamic wouldn't occur. If we went to a neutral location, the dynamic wouldn't occur either because the whole family would be in tow.

    The only logical option is for Carolyn to go to her house, but that just makes me too nervous.

    Maybe I could swing an hour.

    I'm thinking...

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  37. I am going to give you my honest opinion since you asked for it -- you may not agree with me on all points, but maybe it will give you a different perspective on parenting, and on parenting multiples in particular.

    I think you are trying to control aspects of your children's lives which you either can't or shouldn't. You can not control who their friends are or aren't, you just can't. No, I don't think it's polite for anyone to say "I won't play with you, I will ONLY play with my best friend", but it's something that happens. You can not insulate Elizabeth, or anyone else, from social slights. You can and did encourage your children to stand up for each other and protect each other. But "best friends" happen, and they're usually NOT siblings.

    Second, as far as unsupervised playdates go, I would suggest this -- call the mom, ask to either meet her first or come along (with the other kids if need be) so that you can get a better sense of what kind of home this is. My one and only concern would be whether are there guns in the household. If so, that's a deal breaker. As for pedophiles, I really think this is a bit of media-induced hysteria. Yes, there are pedophiles out there, but I doubt they are lurking in every home. However, if you meet the mom (and other members of the family) and you feel like something is "off", trust your gut.

    Have you ever read the blog "Free Range Kids"? It's written by Lenore Skenazy and her whole mission to to debunk some of the media-driven myths about child safety that permeate our society and lead to overprotective parenting. www.freerangekids.wordpress.com

    I used to teach high school. During my career, I taught several sets of twins in almost every combination you can imagine -- boys, girls, identical, fraternal. Never triplets but lots of twins. I still keep in touch with many of them. In fact, I have had recent conversations with 2 sets of g/g twins, and in both cases, one or more of the twins in question had SERIOUS emotional difficulties once she got to college and had to separate from her twin. One girl even had to leave school and has not returned. She told me that she just COULD NOT function without her sister around. Her mother had always dressed them alike, treated them identically, encouraged them to stick together. They were always "the twins", not individuals. They played the same sports, took the same classes, made the same friends. It was NOT healthy. They never learned how to be independent. I think this is a huge risk with parenting multiples, esp. multiples of the same gender. I have b/g twins who are 3 and they are in separate classrooms at preschool. They enjoy time away from each other and it helps them get along better at home. They are learning to be separate as well as together. IMO you need to find ways to encourage them to be apart from each other and to see each other as individuals. Otherwise, they will have a very, very hard time growing up and becoming individuated adults.

    Obviously, at the end of the day, you are their mother and must make decisions for them based on your own experiences and priorities. Just please keep in mind that their most important identity will be as individuals, not as triplets. The more you can do to foster their sense of self, the better. I know you write a lot about not wanting your children to grow up and leave you, but they will and they should. The more you can support and encourage their independence, the more they will respect you. If you try to control them and keep them attached, they will resent you and fight even harder for separation (I speak from personal experience as someone who grew up with a controlling mother!!!) Love them and let them find their own path through the world. They will thank you for it in the long run.

    Leslie

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  38. I think you are trying to control aspects of your children's lives which you either can't or shouldn't. You can not control who their friends are or aren't, you just can't. No, I don't think it's polite for anyone to say "I won't play with you, I will ONLY play with my best friend", but it's something that happens. You can not insulate Elizabeth, or anyone else, from social slights. You can and did encourage your children to stand up for each other and protect each other. But "best friends" happen, and they're usually NOT siblings.

    I used to teach high school. During my career, I taught several sets of twins in almost every combination you can imagine -- boys, girls, identical, fraternal. Never triplets but lots of twins. I still keep in touch with many of them. In fact, I have had recent conversations with 2 sets of g/g twins, and in both cases, one or more of the twins in question had SERIOUS emotional difficulties once she got to college and had to separate from her twin. One girl even had to leave school and has not returned. She told me that she just COULD NOT function without her sister around. Her mother had always dressed them alike, treated them identically, encouraged them to stick together. They were always "the twins", not individuals. They played the same sports, took the same classes, made the same friends. It was NOT healthy. They never learned how to be independent. I think this is a huge risk with parenting multiples, esp. multiples of the same gender. I have b/g twins who are 3 and they are in separate classrooms at preschool. They enjoy time away from each other and it helps them get along better at home. They are learning to be separate as well as together. IMO you need to find ways to encourage them to be apart from each other and to see each other as individuals. Otherwise, they will have a very, very hard time growing up and becoming individuated adults.

    Obviously, at the end of the day, you are their mother and must make decisions for them based on your own experiences and priorities. Just please keep in mind that their most important identity will be as individuals, not as triplets. The more you can do to foster their sense of self, the better. I know you write a lot about not wanting your children to grow up and leave you, but they will and they should. The more you can support and encourage their independence, the more they will respect you. If you try to control them and keep them attached, they will resent you and fight even harder for separation (I speak from personal experience as someone who grew up with a controlling mother!!!) Love them and let them find their own path through the world. They will thank you for it in the long run.

    Leslie

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  39. Jen,

    I think a lot of readers are being really hard on you and you don't deserve that. Sorry.

    I totally agree that there is a difference between playing with a new friend is NO EXCUSE for shunning a sibling and treating them poorly. Playing separately is okay, as you stated. Treating a sibling in an ugly manner is NEVER okay. Right? I don't understand why anyone would think you should have allowed that to continue.

    I agree that sensitive, informed people would probably avoid putting you in this situation. Unfortunately, the world is not made up of sensitive informed people. So, what you have to do is create a family policy on this so that you know what to do when this happens. There is certainly a way to develop separate friendships without allowing the kids to just "drop" their sibling whenever something "better" comes along. You know, how some friends disappear whenever they have a boyfriend?

    You know best. But, maybe something like if you are actively playing with your brothers and sisters it is not okay to ditch them to run off with someone else who refuses to play with them also. Teach them something like "I was playing with my sister right now. You can play with us too if you want or I can play with you later." If one sister starts having playdates without the other, schedule a playdate in your home for the other one.

    Around here, a parent goes along on the playdate if we don't know the family. If the parent thinks that is weird and over-protective they are probably not the best playdate match for your family to begin with. Who knows what else they will think is "over-protective."

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  40. As a kindergarten teacher, I have taught many sets of twins (and part of a set of triplets) over the past 16 years. I've had B/G, G/G, B/B in the same class and I've also had one in my class and the other next door. In every single situation, the happiest, most well-adjusted, self-confident kids were the ones who played independently (without their sibling) some of the time. They should be individuals. They should have different talents and interests and friends. That should be encouraged as much as possible. I, too, would be extremely cautious about sending my child to an unknown home. I've never done it with my 5-year-old. However, I think you could definitely meet the parent beforehand, perhaps feel out the situation when you drop her off, etc. I loved the idea of planning a playdate for your other daughter during the same time so that they both have something fun going on. But, if that doesn't work, how about some special time with mom or dad? Or it is a good time for her to play with her brothers. Or to be alone (which probably doesn't happen often).

    I know it will be hard, but you should not only tolerate it. You should ENCOURAGE them to make their own friends. It will benefit them greatly in the end.

    Just my two cents! You're a fabulous mother, and I'm sure you'll do what's right for your children.

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  41. Jen,
    As little as I comment, I am a frequent reader. I wanted to try to be tactful and I will be, but I am really surprised that you would even consider pulling Carolyn aside and making her feel guilty for having a "different" best friend. Although there is nothing sweeter than a friendship between sisters, especially twins. They are different people. I don't think this would be an issue if they weren't part of a trio.

    You should be happy for Carolyn that she has found a new friend. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the other little girl either. I agree that you should not allow mean or taunting behaviour. But you wouldn't allow the girl to treat your boys mean either. You didn't tell Carolyn that she should include William or Henry. What is the difference?

    William is going to soon find friends that are other boys and he won't want his sisters involved or even Henry. Will you think that is wrong as well?

    You have raised some wonderful children and although I understand that Elizabeth is upset, I can assure you that the situation will be in reverse soon enough.

    I have 5 boys, all very close in age. I have had friends start out closer with one boy and then a few months down the road, one of the other boys is now the new best friend. This my friend is life. On my boys birthday's they get to pick where they want to go and one friend to come along. Sometimes they pick each other, but most of the time it is a classmate or friend. There are a lot of hurt feelings, when said Birthday boy comes back from his special event with souveniers etc... but eventually they get over it.

    You will see, this won't be a big deal soon. But you will encounter it with your boys too. Henry will have a friend and William will want to be his friend too. It all works out.

    I like the other commenters agree that I would want to meet the other mom and get to know the family. That has always been a must for me. You never know what situations other families are in and you of course want to make sure it is a safe environment for all of your kids. I have 5 of my own and a lot of times, I just don't want to invite a guest let alone 2, so consider that too about the invite.

    I have rambled on and not proof read my post, but I think you will do what you think is right. Just remember different people connect for different reasons. Let Carolyn relish in the fact that she has something special that made the other little girl like her so much. Elizabeth is just as special and her "best" friend is out there too. The girls will always be sisters, but they will also be other people's best friends. Best friends mean so much too. Good luck Jen, you are awesome!!!!

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  42. I will cautiously put my two cents in here. Last time I did it, it didn't got so well. Hopefully you accepted my apology..

    Anywho, I think ultimately no one that reads this blog will disagree that family comes first. Of course on that. The advice you are getting about letting the girls have their own friends is absolutely spot on IMO, and I think you know that too and will encourage it.

    Of course it is hurtful that one child gets invited and another does not. We get that in my house and they are all different ages. But, you will figure out how to work through that I am sure. You can't NOT let one go to a play date only because the other would be hurt. If that was the case here, my kids would never leave the house! (and we don't want that!!) And the others will learn how to be happy for their siblings when they get to do something exciting, might even bring them a little closer together because they will have outside friends but, no one understands you like a sibling.

    I really think maybe what you really meant when the one girl took Carolyn to play and left Elizabeth behind and you told Carolyn that "family is first and you never do that to your sister" type thing, you really meant you shouldn't behave like that to ANYONE. Ultimately, if you observed a little girl pull your daughter away and leave another little girl behind, whether the child left behind was your daughter or not, I believe what you would do would be explain to your daughter that being left out NEVER feels good to anyone and urge her to include that kid. (as well as gently remind the not so nice little gal to be sure to include everyone also)

    I think there is a difference in feeling left out when a sibling gets invited to a play date and the other does not (a learning experience in how to be happy for your sibling)....and blatantly being left out in a situation like at the park or in a group where it is just hurtful. (that is a lesson in figuring out how to include everyone and not make anyone feel left out.)

    Oh, just get to know the parents. I wouldn't have the playdate at your house because then you would be expecting that parent to do the same thing you don't want to do, send their child to someone's house they don't know. Just give mom a call, talk on the phone, go with for the first time, and quite frankly, JUST ASK THEM what you want to know. I remember when my oldest child started going on play dates. There was a group of us moms standing around and one of the moms sort of broke the ice for all of us (we didn't really know each other..it was one of the open houses at school if I recall). She said, "I'm just going to put this out there for all of you so you won't have to worry. We have no guns in our house. We have a friendly dog but if your child is afraid of dogs we can put him in the yard. And, I will be the only one home with the children when they come to play. There will be no other adults with them." She basically just answered any questions that we all have on our minds and then we felt open to share the same. Just an idea...it made me realize that other moms (and dads) have the same concerns I do and the majority of people are good people.

    Good luck..

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  43. So I've been thinking about this a lot (because I'm cool that way), and I think maybe there are two separate issues here?

    I think the first interaction was not necessarily about Carolyn and one little girl playing together, but that the little girl was mean to Elizabeth. Is that right? And you were trying to teach Carolyn that she should not let other people treat her sister meanly?

    And the second issue is a mixed bag, both your concerns about one girl being invited but the other not, and also your concerns about sending her to a new household. Is that right? I sitll think Carolyn should get to go to the playdate by herself, personally (and I get the impression you do, too), but obviously your comfort level with the other household is a different issue.

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  44. Remember if you invite the little girl to your house, her parents might be just as nervous about allowing her child to go into somebody's home that is unknown to them. I think suggesting a neutral outing is a good idea - maybe a Saturday when Charlie can watch the other kids. Go to a park, a kids' restaurant, a mall playland.
    I know it sounds inconvenient, but school opens up a world of friendship and while they are little that involves extra work and planning on the parents' part to foster those friendships.

    I'm with the group that encourages you to allow Carolyn to somehow get together with her new friend and arrange another time for Elizabeth to play with a friend.

    Be specific with Elizabeth. Ask her "who would you like to invite out to play with you...just you and a special friend?" And then try to make it happen. Again, it's a lot of work for parents of young ones to manage their social lives, but it's worth it to allow their friendships to develop.

    I think when you tell Carolyn that her sister is her best friend, I get it - but maybe the idea could be a little broader. Maybe next time (and there will be a next time) you could just remind her that we don't leave ANYBODY out or hurt ANYBODY'S feelings - whether it's a sibling or a new child that has shown up to play at the park.

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  45. I always liked to have the playdates HERE. That way I could supervise. And you could have the three girls play together. It's tough, but it is a long road of this nonsense I assure you. No one told me kids were this hard:(

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  46. I think the litmus test is whether you would make the same decision if your girls were not the same age. Their individuality and their social learning should not be hampered because they are triplets.

    I have four daughters and there were many times that situations like these occurred. I found that if I could remember what my job was - to comfort the upset, to teach good social skills to both girls, and to help them find a solution - instead of becoming emotionally involved myself, it was much better for my girls. We all hate to see our child get hurt but I've seen many mothers of girls get too invested in their daughters' social lives and it doesn't end well. The mother gets so caught up in her daughter's drama that she can't parent effectively. A small amount of detachment is necessary. It helps the child learn a sense of proportion - yes, she is left out this time, but maybe next week she'll get a special invitation.

    Have you ever seen the blog Raising WEG? (http://raisingweg.typepad.com/raising_weg/) The author has written in the past about navigating the social waters of elementary school with her b/g/g/ triplets.

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  47. I can understand your pain and heartbreak for Elizabeth. We never like seeing our children hurt. However, I think Carolyn should be able to have her 'individual' friends the same as Elizabeth, William and Henry, without consequences and repercussions. As long as Elizabeth isn't being mistreated or made fun of by Carolyn and her friends, I don't think there should be parental interference. I love the idea of inviting a friend over for Elizabeth while Carolyn is at her friends house. This will help them tremendously and who knows all 4 girls may be friends together some day. I agree that you need to meet the parents of any playdate children to insure it's a safe, kid friendly environment. It's tough being a parent and probably more so with multiples. Just be sure to keep them focused on their sibling relationships and the minute you see one being mean to the other due to friends encouraging it (bullying) then you put a stop to it and let them know it's totally unacceptable behavior. I think you're doing a great job. Let us know what you decide!

    Barb in ID

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  48. I am so very glad you are very cautious about play dates. Please keep up the good work.
    Our daughter played at the home of a pedophile. They seemed like such a nice family, mom at home, dad holding down a responsible job, kids clean well fed and healthy looking. Our daughter was one of many who was hurt by this monster before he was caught. He received a sentence of 90 days (on one count only only one little girl was brave enough to speak up in court- the rest were badly intimidated) to be served on weekends (so he wouldn't loose his job) our daughter is still affected by the consequences of his actions. We have lost touch with the other children involved but I'd bet anything that they are also still troubled by what happened all those years ago.
    We made it a house-hold policy that there would be NO MORE play dates anywhere unless we #1 knew the family personally and #2 were personally convinced that they were safe. Oh how I wish we'd had that policy in place with our first child!!!!!

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  49. you know jen, the thing about a blog is that its public... and that can be good and that can be bad... and you ask for opinions/advice and you will get them! You and Charlie are raising these kids and it certainly looks like you are doing a fine job. I don't see that this playdate issue is a make or break thing. So you handle it one way and then change your mind and handle it different the next time. some days i suspect you might throw your hands up in the air and say "oooo well... that didn't work out so well!" you are fine, your kids are fine... what you are doing is fine.. your instincts are fine. And remember, we all love you out here in blogland and we love to read about the antics of your unique family!

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  50. Hi, its me again. Because of our terrible experience with with a pedophile and play dates I have quite a lot to say. The commenter, Annicles, may be correct in saying it probably wont happen. I don't know what the statistical numbers are of it actually happening but even if the numbers are minuscule should we risk it? With everything in my being I wish I was not the mom who had to help her child put her broken little life back together after it did because of my poor choice. To say you are massively overreacting is SO wrong. I suppose you could overprotect them but you sure can't turn back time and undo a tragic mistake in judgement. Go ahead OVERPROTECT. I also had to stop my husband from going out the door with his hunting rifle to blow the beast away (jail time would not have helped our family).

    There are other questions to consider, such as what is acceptable TV viewing at their house or what are 'OK' internet sites or computer games for their children to watch & play? Are your precious kids safe around older siblings (teenagers) or their friends who may also be visiting the home? Is it safe for them to be around their grandpa or uncle Fred or who knows who else? WE LEARNED ALL THAT TOO LATE!

    OK, I guess I'm done for now, I will get off my soap box.

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  51. I didn't address the issue of Carolyn's play date when I responded earlier, but I don't think you are crazy for being cautious about that. My kids don't go to someone's house until I know the family on some level. Even if it's just calling another mom in the class and asking for the "scoop" on little Billy and his family. It's nerve wracking letting them go off alone to a new house, at least for me! Which is why there are almost always a million kids at my house...I'd much rather they are here, where I KNOW what is going on every single minute.

    Kelly(Houston)

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  52. awww Jen! I could have wrote this post...so many things that only us triplet mommy's understand. Nobody can tell you what to do, how to handle the situation you just have to go with your gut and what will be best for your family. But I would like to say I think it's strange that Caroline was asked over on a playdate thru a note home...it would have been nice to have gotten a phone call from the little girls mom or dad...a little more personal...just sayin!! :)

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  53. Why don't you go on the playdate with her? That way she gets to go and you get to know the family. I have had moms come when I invite someone home. Then they sit in my kitchen and stare at me and it drives INSANE, but after a couple times, they let their kid come alone. While you are doing that, Charlie can do something with the others and they probably won't even notice she is gone. Win win.

    Oh, and I felt like I was arguing with my sister earlier. She hung up on me yesterday when I told I thought she was doing something wrong with her 14 year old. Cuz like I've had a 14 year old, so I know. I know everything!

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  54. I really liked the responses you gave to Leslie. My sister and I are one year apart. We consider each other "best friends" and we almost always have, but my sister best friend was very different from my best friend who was not a sister. I agree that it is reasonable to expect respect for family members from a child's friends. You wouldn't tolerate any of your children being friends with someone who says "your mom is stupid and she has stupid rules, so lets not follow them." I think this is similar-the friends have to understand that the kids have siblings, and even if you are not friends with them, you are still expected to be nice. And if they can't, it doesn't matter that the specific behavior is excluding a sibling, what matters is that 'friend' is exhibiting behavior that you are deciding is not healthy for your child to be around.

    This kind of rambles, but I hope you get it. This life is just one adventure after another isn't it!

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  55. Wow, lots of comments on this issue already and I see you have clarified some points. My 2 cents:
    #1... like you, I wouldn't be in any hurry to have a kid go on a playdate at the home of people I've never met. Unlike you, we don't have school busses so I naturally have gotten to know the parents of my kids at school dropoff. I'm not sure how you'd go about creating that... our school did an email list for the kindergarten families and we had a series of park playdates both over the summer before K started and then ongoing after school once a week. Doesn't work for the working families, but then their kids already socialize after school at the after-care place.
    #2... the triplet/sibling thing. I have 3 kids, but they're singletons. My daughter was friends with the girl of a bbg triplet family back in kindergarten and I never asked her over for a playdate because I would have been overwhelmed having her 2 brothers as well and I didn't know if it would be okay to ask just Mia. And I know people didn't know about inviting them to parties... do you have to invite all 3... etc... and if they become a 'package deal' they are not going to get as many invitations.
    #3. I agree with you about putting your foot down when kids are trying to be mean/exclusive. Sometimes my middle kid's friends will try to exclude the youngest (they are both boys, and close enough in age that they play together a lot). I try to set it up that they can have some 'one-on-one' time, but that there's also time in the playdate that it's clear that Max is included as well (or else invite another friend for Max at the same time).

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  56. After reading this post then reading all the comments (your comments specifically) it almost sounds like you were wanting us to all say, "Yes! Segregate your children! We all understand 100% for them to all share friends and not to have their own personalized life!"
    Your kids LOOK the same. They are not the same though. Obviously you know that. It just seems to have surprised you.

    There is NOTHING wrong with saying family comes first. They do! They should! BUT it shouldn't be synonymous with family 'ONLY'.

    And the playdate?
    I didn't "do" playdates myself unless I personally knew the family. And that was before all the 'predator hype'. (I'm an old 68 yr old lady!)Some people have no problem with it, and that's okay too. Go with your gut on that one.

    Just know that in the long run, as long as your kids are loved, stable and secure, they'll ALL turn out just fine.

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  57. I love your blog and have been reading it forever, but never comment.
    I just want to say: Your girls are not just sisters: they are "twins" and they are too young to be indeoendent because it is their choice.
    Any parent that has the LACK OF FINNESS to invite one twin and not the other doesn't deserve to invite them over.
    If it was me I would leave it clear to other people: they are the same age and they will go together until they are old enough to decide they don't want or don't care to go to separate events.
    You are awesome... such a great blog!
    Maria

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  58. I totally sympathize with you on this. Our trio is in pre-k and we are noticing very different social skills emerging. One is really being pushed out of the different circles of kids and having a hard time making friends. Another is Mr. Popular. The third is our only girl and doing fine.
    I'm not sure why some seem to be getting the wrong picture about what happened with the other little girl at the park. This had nothing to do with them being triplets. One kid was acting in a way that was unkind and you, as the adult, stepped in. I think our society is suffering because more parents don't step up and be the parent. Obviously you can't protect them from everything, but they are in kindergarten. They still need you to guide them and help them as they are learning how to make friends. They need you to help them recognize what is a good or bad quality in a friend and how to react when someone is being unkind (to a sibling or anyone else).
    I never got the idea from your post that you were planning on only letting your daughter go on playdates if the other was invited too or not letting them make friends outside of the family.
    I also completely agree about you being cautious when sending your children to friends houses. The people who think it's all media hype and that you are overreacting must have not had sexual abuse impact their lives. It happens all the time.
    I have to say I learned a lot from the comments. Even though I think a few people got the wrong idea about what you were concerned about, a lot of thought provoking points were brought up and I will be considering them as these issues come up more for us.
    You are doing great.
    Take care.

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  59. I have been thinking about this post all day and have re-read it a few times. I have b/g twins (and an older singleton) so I don't think it will be as big an issue for me. I think for me, it comes down to the part about being nasty. I won't tolerate that. The fact is that they are going to have different friends, interests, etc. And you want that! Right?!?! It's so hard. But to me, it's the attitude that goes along with it that's important. And I suppose it's a learning process for everyone. For the child who has the playdate, toughening the skin of the one who doesn't, and learning how to balance your emotions through the process. It's SO hard...one day one of my daughter's school friends was a little nasty to her in the parking lot as we walked into school and I wanted to THROTTLE her!! I couldn't believe how quickly I felt that way and how intense the feeling was. I did not really like myself in that moment. I will be interested to see how you navigate this.

    ~Ilissa

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  60. I don't have much to say beyond what's already been said. Comments have given you plenty to think about!
    But I do want to say that as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, you can't be too careful about who watches your child. Many people say that it's unlikely that someone would molest a child, but your stats are correct--unfortunately, it happens more often than we think. I grew up in a very safe, traditional home yet was abused by a caregiver when I was in the third grade. I didn't tell my parents until two years later. Now than my daughter is school-age, my own fears for her often take priority over reason. However, given that not a day has gone by that I haven't thought about what happened to me, I will never apologize for being VIGILANT about who comes into contact with my children. I'm glad that you are being careful.

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  61. I can certainly see both sides of this situation. To me the fact that "your sister is your best friend and no one should come between you" is no reason for Carolyn to not have friends (and playdates) besides her sister. Yes, it is very hard when Elizabeth is not invited. But I am finding that very hard even with my 4 and 7 year old. I did not think for a moment that my 4 year old son would be HEARTBROKEN that his big sister was going to a playdate to which he was not invited, but he IS. It is incredibly difficult. I grew up with younger sisters who were twins and it was incredibly important to our family that they also have their own relationships. It is very very hard for multiples to grow up constantly being compared to and grouped with each other. As much as they love each other they grow to long for things that are special for just them, things (and friendships) that are their own. It is hard for Elizabeth, but some day the day will come when she will be the one invited and while it's difficult for the one who is "left out", it will get easier with practice. And it will make coming home and spending time with siblings all the more special. Every person deserves the opportunity to explore things that they love and enjoy without the pressure of sharing it with siblings. That will cause resentment.

    Of course, these are my personal feelings and I think you should do what you feel is right for your kids as you certainly know them best. Just my opinion from my own family's experience. I will say that my sisters consistently had basically the same group of friends growing up. But they were encouraged to have their own special times with those friends. The friends were not expected to always invited my twin sisters as a "package deal". The friends were encouraged to get to know each of my sisters as individuals and the time spent apart helped them to figure out who they were as individuals. I think it was really very good for them. And that did not stop them from having many playdates and parties and sleepovers as they grew up where they were both invited. A little of category A and a little of category B, if you will. :)

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  62. I may be oversimplifying, but it seems to me the real issue is the other little girl. You don't strike me as someone who wants her children to have only their siblings as friends. I imagine that your children are very, very good to one another and treat each other pretty well most of the time. The fact that the other little girl seemed to be intentionally trying to leave Elizabeth out makes you just plain mad as a mom... and a little disappointed that Carolyn didn't do something about it or even realize it on her own?


    I say unless Carolyn is particularly interested, skip worrying about this playdate all together and work toward having individual playdates for each one of your kids as soon as you've had more time to meet and get to know some of the other families in your area.

    My oldest is in kindergarten this year too, and I think she's still a little young for drop off playdates... especially if you don't know the people well!

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  63. PLEASE tell me that parent did NOT know about Carolyn having a sister the same age in the same class. Otherwise, what a crummy thing to do, just inviting one. You. Do. Not. Do. That. Kids are too fragile in their friendship building at this age.

    Make YOUR house the house of playdates. I've been inviting kids over left and right, so all three of my triplet boys are involved. And I invite over MANY kids at once. That way, everyone can play with whomever with no one feeling left out, there are plenty of friends to go around, just like at school.

    I would decline the playdate invitation. I hope it was offered in kindness and unawareness of the triplet situation.

    -D

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  64. I'm with MaryBeth, who points out that the little girl purposefully excluding Elizabeth is what's so bothersome here. In kindergarten, kids are trying to figure out how to socialize, and some really think that you can only have one friend at a time, and that you then have to declare it for all the world. That's what's bothersome, and inviting that girl over to YOUR house as opposed to sending just Carolyn to play at the stranger's (!) house can illustrate the benefits of many friends.

    A little boy was choosing one of my triplets and telling the other two to go away. I told the excluded brothers that the classmate, Spencer, is missing out on two great friends, that they can't make him be their friends too, and that they should just go play with some other friends. It's Spencer's loss, and it was too bad that he didn't understand 'the more the merrier' concept. And he was being rude. You don't do that to classmates, whether they are brothers or not. I then invited Spencer and his mom to join us at the pool, which they did. There, Spencer played with all three of my boys in the water. The next day, all FOUR boys were high-fiving each other and getting along fantastically. Spencer's mom reported that on the way home from the pool he'd told her "WOW, you can have more than just one friend!" He hadn't understood it before that.

    Kindergarten. It's as much about the social lessons as any of the ABC's in the classroom. Playdates are a different kind of homework, that's all. And you'd help them with their homework, right?

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  65. My sister is talking to me again, and she told me to tell you to tell your girls and for me to tell MY girls, "We don't label our friends, because it gives them ownership." I got a big tongue-lashing for saying "best" friend. Like, OMG.

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  66. Okay, one more thing: Is it the triplet mom in me who is used to huge playdates, or am I the only one who invites the parents and brothers and sisters of the classmate to come, too? Every kindergarten playdate we've had has had toddlers and infants crawling around doing their own thing as the big kids play together (pairing off here and there according to interests and activities) and the moms chat. So maybe I'm missing something, but I'd have invited Carolyn, Elizabeth, William AND HENRY had I been the other mother, and certainly you or Charlie. It's not just a matter of not inviting Elizabeth.

    But maybe I'm out of touch with how moms of singletons work the social scene? I don't mean that pejoratively at all. Maybe it's a triplet mom thing?

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  67. I will only comment on the safety issue of the play date. Many have said they also don't allow their children to go over for a play date unless they've "met" the other parents. Excuse me, but what exacyly does that mean? "Meeting" them will give you peace of mind to leave your children alone in their house? Really???? My twins are 6.5 and they have not yet been to a play date without me. I know some moms consider me crazy. And that's ok. Media hype or not about the predators, I'd rather be safe than sorry.

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  68. Hi Jen, I have to admit at first when I read the words you put in bold, the ones you said to Carolyn, my reaction was that was too much in the way of limiting her and who can she can play with. But in the context of how the girl was purposely excluding her siblings, I agree with you, I would just be sure that you explain to Carolyn it was that behavior that was not acceptable, and the only reason she was not allowed to run off and play with the girl (maybe you already did? I don't recall).

    It reminds me of the time I arrived at a party w/ my b/g twins, age 4, and a little girl took my daughter by the hand and said something like "Come on! Let's go play! And no boys allowed!" My son heard this and his reaction was to tear up...as those words have never been part of his world at his tender age. So I was about to do the same thing you did...only my daughter actually beat me to it...no way would she leave brother behind in that manner! Had it occured naturally, yes! But sister doesn't go for brother being shut out. I back what you did in the context 100%..it's one thing for the friendships and/or "playing together" to happen naturally, quite another when someone dictates that the other siblings cannot play. If people don't get that, it's their problem. (I might add that in no way do I think that this makes the girl who said "no boys allowed" a brat...which I also feel is important to pass on to my kids...we ALL say things we shouldn't and SHE is still learning as well).

    As for playdates...trust your instincts...you're not being paranoid, you're protecting them. You know how you'd feel if something happened. Personally I feel their too young to be dropped off alone. Mine are turning 5 in two days...and I'd worry about everything you mentioned as well as them being outside and getting hit by a car. You're right on mama, keep it up.-Karen

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  69. Why not have Elizabeth invite a school buddy over for a play date while Carolyn is over on her play date?

    Of course, this doesn't give you piece of mind that the other household is safe.

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  70. Wow....as another mommy of multiples, I feel like I've been slammed by some of these comments because my thoughts seem to be pretty in line with yours. I would not have been okay with another child acting in such an ugly way as the little girl playing with Carolyn and I most certainly would have pulled her aside and said something. Family should always come first and if Carolyn couldn't see that she was hurting her sisters feelings, I think you taught her a great lesson about empathy about pulling her aside to talk to her about it. I think this is a separate issue from the playdate.
    As for that, I wouldn't let my kid go if I hadn't already met the parent who would be supervising. I would contact the parent and say lets meet somewhere else so you could meet them. My guess would be that the other parent has no idea you have trips and if they do, then it would have made more sense for them to talk to you before sending an invite excluding Elizabeth. Something as simple as, I know you have 2 daughters, but my child only wants to invite one of them over, I wanted to give you a heads up before Carolyn brings the invite home in case Elizabeth's feelings are hurt. But perhaps that is just my rosy eyed view of the world. Until I had my boys, I had no idea how strongly people would feel about multiples and the opinions that would be shared about how I should raise my children. I've had great advice from moms of singletons, twins and trips, teachers and grown twins. I've also had a lot of advice from people who have no idea what it is like to live in a home with kids the exact same age and it's often hard to be understood.
    Stand your ground and meet the parents of the other child first, if you are comfortable with Carolyn going there, great and you can use the time to let another friend come over or maybe spend some one on one mom time with Elizabeth. If you aren't comfortable, for ANY reason, don't let her go.

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  71. As a first grade teacher and the mother of two daughters and a son,my perspective is maybe a little different. Three children who are friends, playing together, is often an awkward situation. It is more common than not that two will hit it off better and one will be "odd man out". That situation is even more difficult for the third child than not being invited in the first place, and will in your case be a sad situation for both siblings.
    In my own family I have watched two very different sisters approach friendships in different ways. One is outgoing and has lots of friends but transient frienships. The other is quiet and introspective and has only a few good friends forever. Making an ironclad inclusion rule does not allow for individual personalities to shine. It's right and good to stress family first, but learning to make friendships and develop individual values is also a part of growing up. You know your own children best, so only you can decide how this should go. In the long run though, they will have different sport and social preferences, and this is just the beginning.

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  72. I haven't had a chance to read others comments yet, so I apologize if I'm just repeating what has already been said...

    The only issue I see here is that Carolyn has been invited to a stranger's house. That is what needs to be dealt with.

    I too, have four kids, different ages, not multiples, and they have the right to their own friends. Why should the triplets not have that same right? Forcing them to be accepted by others as a trio and not individually may well backfire for the triplets. It could lead to resentment. Life is not fair and it really sucks when our little ones start learning this. Comfort the hurting one, love and reassure her. But don't "penalize" the others in an attempt to make things fair. If you insist that all three are invited or none are invited to playdates, parties, etc., you may just find none are invited and that would be unfair.

    BTW, my sister and I are only 11 months apart and my mother tried to force us to share friends (and dress alike and everything else) and we hated it. We DID have our own seperate friends, even if we were generally in the same group of kids at school. Almost 40 years later, we are the very best of friends. Your kids share a special bond, which you can nurture. Insisting they share friends won't protect or nurture that bond, but it might put unnecessary pressure on it.

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  73. Can you invite another friend for Elizabeth to come to your house for a playdate on that same day? I'm not sure if it's fair to punish the one child for getting an invitation to protect the other one's feelings.

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  74. I'll tell you, this has been a lively conversation topic for me over the past few days as I ask other parents what they'd do. Utterly fascinating to hear the range of thoughts on it. Last night I asked a room of twelve moms---with one who is part of an identical twin pair and faced this herself as a kid, and another one who was on the OTHER side as the mother of a girl who just wanted to invite one identical twin. Truly fascinating.

    Waiting to hear what you'll decide.

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  75. Good heavens girl! One of my favorite sayings is that "You are responsible for your own fun". Carolyn apparently is putting herself out there and making friends - it could be by the end of the year that this girl is better friends with the other girl. There is no malice in one of your daughters being invited to a playdate and not the other. And truly, in my opinion, a playdate is done at the convenience of a parent as well as birthday parties. If I have childcare for the others I'll send the original invitee, but if I don't I ask if the sibling can come too (since at this age - the parent is still expected to come), but if If it is convenient for you to have the other girl over - invite someone else over too and kill 2 or 3 birds with one stone. It is totally fine at this age to park your butt over at someone's house and bring the other siblings maybe this girl has siblings too.

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  76. One of many cuzzins!11/10/10, 9:11 AM

    Yikes! 75 comments. I usually scan them, but I'm a busy gal today and time does not avail.

    When mine were little, I NEVER let them go to a strangers house...and that is exactly what this new friend is. You don't know her or anything about her family, upbringing, home, etc, etc. This is an issue I still struggle with and my first born is 19 and away at college and my baby is 17 and a senior in high school!!! I still worry when they are out without each other.

    Now my house is the "do drop in". We welcome their friends when they stop by or come to hang out. They raid my snack cabinet or order up pizza for themselves. They take over our family room TV & game system, stereo, etc. I've gotten to know all of their high school chums and most of their parents. Most I like, some I can live without. But, they're all pretty decent and I'm happy that they come in to our house. It is different with the college friends. I don't know them as well, but my kids now have a good gauge for selecting friends and I trust their judgement. The college group are friendly enough and intract with us when we visit the campus.

    Definately invite the little girl to your house and invite her Mom and other sibs to join. It is a little more work for you to have the mom come, but it is your opportunity to size them up and make your own decision about how you want to handle this
    friendship. And, likewise, it gives them the chance to see your family dynamic and make their decision about whether they feel ready for a relationship with all of your brood, rather than singling one out. You will set the standard for your children and their friendship selections.

    I'm sure this issue will come up over and over again as they get older and start developing their own interests. But, for now they are little kids and shouldn't be off by themselves with strangers.

    Thats my two cents! :)

    Love ya,
    Cuz

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  77. I just wanted to say how much I commend you for putting your family first. I think what you, as parents, do in the small moments provide such a great model for teaching your children how they will handle the larger, more difficult moments in their lives. I could just picture Elizabeth's face at the park and when Carolyn brought home that play date invitation. Family is the most important thing, and when you start letting little things slide, (i.e. interaction at the park, play dates) the bigger things get looked over as well and soon, family life gets put on the back burner. I also think how you explained it to Carolyn, right away (instead of later before bed) and straight forward (instead of "Because I said so", as my mother would have done) was really wonderful. I'm 22, not a mother, but hope to have a family someday. I have read so many of your posts and put those little lessons in the back of my head to teach to my own child(ren) one day. Keep up the good work mom!

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