Twins in school—together or apart?

Reuben and Joshua on their first day of primary school

Reuben and Joshua on their first day of primary school

As we approach the final few weeks of the school year, last week I received an email from Tamba, the twins and multiple births association, of which we are members, about a resource to help parents decide whether to keep their twins or multiples together in the same class or not.

We decided to separate our twin boys, and it turns out to have been the right decision. Each has bloomed where he has been planted, each has found his own confidence. While it’s not always been the easiest of paths for either of them, or us (and we’ve often found ourselves wondering if we made the right decision) I am so proud of both of them in how they have grown and matured during this academic year.

The Tamba resource is a short document, produced with Tamba’s support by the Hackney Learning Trust, that outlines the issues to consider. If you have twins or multiples who are heading to school soon then it’s certainly worth a read.

Download the Together or apart guidelines and checklist from Tamba.

It turns out I am a souter after all

Reuben's shoe—mid-mend

Reuben’s shoe—mid-mend

A couple of days ago I noticed that the stitching on Reuben’s shoe was coming apart. My response to this came from two places.

First, I was brought up with the attitude that we should always try to mend something first, rather than simply throwing it away. After all, there really is no ‘away’—it’s just over there, somewhere.

Second, I was brought up in Selkirk which was historically famous for its shoe makers, or in Scots: souters.

So I got my needle and thread out and re-stitched Reuben’s shoe.

Walking Isaac to playgroup

Isaac in an orange jacket, carrying his monkey

“Can I get a photo of you, please, Isaac?” “Okay!”

One of my favourite things today was walking Isaac to playgroup.

We played “I spy” on the way; the colour edition.

Isaac: I spy with my little eye something the colour… red!

Me: Is it that red car in front of us?

Isaac: YES!

If you ever get to play “I spy (colour edition)” with Isaac, it’s usually a car. Or a lorry. Or a van. Or… you get the idea.

Our three year old kept waking up too hot during the night. What we did will blow your mind!

Open window. (Photo credit: Mattox on Free Images)

Open window. (Photo credit: Mattox on Free Images)

Those Upworthy style headlines that have been popping up everywhere are annoying, aren’t they.

I’m not the only one to found this. Dean Burnett from The Guardian has. Duncan Stephen from the University of St Andrews digital communications team has. They got CNN into trouble a couple of months ago, when used rather irresponsibly.

Anyway, young Isaac (3) has been repeatedly waking up during the night pouring with sweat: far too hot. We’ve had to change his pyjamas sometimes twice during the night.

What did we do to sort it out? Erm… we opened his bedroom window a little bit and got some air circulating in his room.

Mind blown?

Why you shouldn’t screw your flip flops to your feet!

A pretty drastic way of ensuring that you prevent your flip-flops from falling off is to screw them on!

A pretty drastic way of ensuring that you prevent your flip-flops from falling off is to screw them on!

This week hasn’t quite turned out as planned. For one, yesterday morning I had to manually remove a No.8 (40 mm) screw from the bottom of my foot and go to hospital for a tetanus booster injection.

Reuben and Joshua have been on holiday from school since Wednesday, and as they have repeatedly asked if they could have ‘a sleepover’ a Grannie in Selkirk’s I took these three days off too and planned with my Mum to head down yesterday morning (which would also have been my Dad’s 69th birthday).

The plan was to take a leisurely drive to the Scottish Borders and then spend the day showing them a bit more of Selkirk: where I grew up, where I played, where I went to school, and also to visit my Dad’s grave and lay some flowers to mark his birthday.

I was woken around 06:20 by Reuben leaping onto my bed. “When are we going to Selkirk?!” were his first, excited words.

“After breakfast,” I replied getting out of bed.

I still had to throw a few things into a bag but first, looking out of the bedroom window into the backyard, I realised that the bin needed to go out—the paper-recycling lorry would be round soon.

After a quick detour to my study to pick up an R-kive box that I use for storing paper to be recycled we tripped downstairs and as Reuben and Joshua got comfortable at the breakfast bar I said I’d just be a minute and I headed outside into the cold, pulling on a jumper.

I also had my flip flops on. I love my flip flops. I love walking around in bare feet but I have quite flat feet and so it gets painful quite quickly. These Quicksilver flip flops have been perfect: giving my foot the cushioning they need and my arch gets the lift that it deserves. And they left me walk quite comfortably on stones, even gravel. (But not wood screws, as it turns out.)

I stepped across the stones and tipped the contents of the R-kive box into the grey wheelie bin before I started to pull it towards the gate and the main road.

I stopped. The back door was still open. I reached over and pulled it closed, only to turn around in time to see the wheelie bin tipping over and spilling half its contents into the backyard. “Oh no!” I groaned righting the bin and then getting down on my hands and knees and scooping up handfuls of scraps of paper that were now being blown around in little eddies around the yard.

I looked over at the R-kive box. Surely it would be quicker if I scooped the paper into that: less distance to travel. I stood up, stepped across the gravel and reached out for the box, sitting on top of the blue general waste bin.

“Ow!”

I stepped on something sharp; stones likely. I lifted my right foot and gave it a shake. It was common for small stones to slip beneath my foot and my flip flop. I heard a few stones fall out and click on the gravel beneath. I put my foot down and quickly lifted it again.

“OW!”

A sudden fear went through my mind: something has gone into my foot. A sharp stone? There’s a sharp stone embedded in my foot! It seems to have gone through my flip flop too.

The paper continued to blow around the enclosed backyard. I needed to clear that up first and as I couldn’t exactly walk without pain anyway I dropped to my knees with the blue and white R-kive box and crawled across the gravel to the paving stones.

I could feel the panic rising within me.

“Joshua!… JOSHUA!” I screamed. The back door was still ajar; it hadn’t closed entirely.

I frantically scooped up the paper into the box: scraps of A5 notepaper, newspapers, food packaging.

“JOSHUA!”

I pulled myself up using the bin and tipped the contents of the box into the wheelie bin once again. Joshua appeared at the door, “Yes?”

“Joshua! Get Mummy please. I need her help. I think I have a stone in my foot!”

Joshua ran off as I closed the wheelie bin lid, turned around as carefully as I could and tried to make my way into the house. The pain was excruciating now. My sense of panic was growing. I held onto what I could grab and I began to hop up the steps and in through the back door.

“Jane!” I yelled. “JANE!”

“I’m coming!” I heard her reply, sounding slightly irritated. Jane was recently diagnosed with spondylolisthesis, a back condition that has left her in a lot of pain herself. She had spent much of the night squeezed into Isaac’s bed beside him and she was struggling to get out of bed.

I collapsed onto the sofa in the kitchen as Jane arrived.

“I think I’ve stood on a sharp stone,” I said quickly. “I think it’s gone into my foot.” I was beginning to go into shock by this point. And the pain was so intense that I felt like I might pass out.

“Breathe… breathe…!” I told myself. “Slow your breathing. Deep breaths.”

Jane switched on the lights and took a closer look. “I think it’s a nail!”

“A nail?!”

“Oh, hang on… it’s a screw!”

“A SCREW?!”

It was a screw. It turns out to have been a No. 8 (40 mm) Pozidriv screw. As my colleague Steve confirmed later: those are the painful kind!

Jane couldn’t get a grip on it. “I think I may need to cut your flip flops off,” she apologised.

“Do it!” I said. I’ve watched Casualty on TV: I know how it goes.

After another failed attempt I realised that I was going to have to do it. I’ve often prided myself on such a strong grip. I didn’t realise that one day I would have to manually unscrew a No.8 from the bottom of my foot!

I sat up, took a deep breath, crossed my legs and took a closer look. I felt sick.

If a man, trapped in the mountains can saw his own arm off using a Swiss army knife, I found myself thinking, then I can remove a screw from my foot.

“Which way does it go?”

I considered at this point of sending for my Black & Decker electric screwdriver. At least it has buttons to differentiate between in and out.

I grasped the screw head tightly between by fingers and began to turn it anti-clockwise. It was coming out! It was coming out!

Just over an hour later I was sitting in a treatment room at the minor injuries unit in St Andrews community hospital having the wound washed out and getting a tetanus booster injection to my arm.

An hour because we’d phoned NHS 24 for advice and well… they promised to phone back within three hours(!) and I couldn’t wait any longer; and Jane had phoned her parents asking if she could quickly drop the boys off at theirs so that she could drive me to the hospital and her dad had insisted that they be dressed first… and they really weren’t up for playing that game. Forty-five minutes to get three dressed on a non-school day was actually pretty good going, compared with other attempts.

So the trip to Selkirk was postponed, I got my pain relief under control, and I sat with my leg up for most of the day.

Today it really hit me: I felt floored, I had no energy, I slept a lot. Tomorrow… well, I think I have an infection brewing. I’ll be phoning the doctor first thing.

Update

Friday 14 February

I have an infection in the foot. I’m not long back from the GP with a small bag full of medication:

  • 28 Flucloxacillin 500mg (4 per day)
  • 21 Ibuprofen 400mg
  • 100 Co-codamol 30/500mg

My mum recommends Listerine original for infections of the feet, but my local chemist only has mint or anti-cavity.

Party transport early warning system

Car pulls up outside our house.

What’s going on outside my front door, you ask? Well, let me show you. Ah! Right on time: here’s the party transport.

Reuben and Joshua were invited to a party taking place in Leven this morning. Our friend Helen offered to drive them there in her small bus; what her seven children teasingly refer to as ‘the loser cruiser’.

Remarkably I managed to get both boys dressed (with jumpers and shoes) in 25 minutes (could that be a record?), the birthday present was wrapped and the card was written. All we had to do now was wait.

I found myself thinking: if only there was a way that allowed me to see what was going on outside while still sitting comfortably at my study desk.

Wait a minute! I’ve got a webcam that might just… wait… it does! It stretches from my desk over to the window.

Perfect: an instant party transport early warning system.