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Guests and Ghosts

twin dayI do love twins! Just not Twin Day!

So we’re in the thick of it again at my child’s middle school: Spirit Week. I forget each year that this horror is approaching until a Monday morning—and it’s always the kind of Monday where I’ve either overslept or my cat has thrown up all over the kitchen floor-- and my son announces that he needs a crazy hat, or perhaps hair dye; or is it sports jersey or funny socks day?

He’s never quite sure of what he needs, only that the fate of the free world hangs on his appropriate attire, so one of us has to pull up the school website and try to find what’s what and then panic when we realize we don’t have or can’t find the necessary items to fulfill the day’s requirements. And then it’s 5 minutes before his bus is due to arrive and mass panic followed by a mad dash out the door ensues.

But worse than all these “fun days” (fun for everyone but the parents who have to scramble to find the necessary components to show that their kid has spirit), is the dreaded Twin Day. Every year this one seems to make an appearance in the line-up and every year I wonder, “Why?”

Why give kids an opportunity to exclude or snub each other? Why make them find that onespecialfriend to synch up with and match outfits? If a day could be specifically designed to promote anxiety and the feeling of being left out, I can’t think of a better one than Twin Day. The shy kid, the new kid, the awkward kid—can they find anyone to be their twin? Are the schools trying to make these kids feel bad about themselves and their social capital? If not, what are they trying to do?

Even your run-of-the mill kid who has a good number of friends can have trouble with Twin Day. In the past my son has forgotten to coordinate with a friend and ended up twin-less and sad due to being a typically disorganized boy. My daughter has had issues with this day, too. She was part of tight trio in fourth grade. The relationships between the three girls ebbed and flowed that year and as Twin Day approached, she was definitely number 3. The other two decided to be twins and she was excluded. That is, until one of the other moms got wind of what was going on and declared that they would be triplets. Save!

So let me make a modest proposal. Let’s spirit the heck out of Spirit Week. Sure, it’s a little crazy, trying to find the right components to make up an outfit, but it’s basically a good kind of crazy. Not the bad-feeling-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach kind of crazy when your child realizes they have no twin, or is forced by the day’s structure to pick only one good friend and leave another out. I think we can all agree that school (and life) is stressful enough without that kind of pressure!

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Village Fathers is a fatherhood education program and support group sponsored by Healthy Families Rappahannock Area. Its goal is to help fathers improve their parenting skills by promoting healthy and positive attitudes towards fatherhood and parenting.

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