There are triplets in Rees' 2nd grade class. When they show up, it is like a whole community has arrived. Three girls, all very different, with their own personalities and interests. Two of them are excellent runners and athletes, another is reading at an 8th grade level. They are all very creative, taking after their parents who are in advertising or marketing or some such creative field. Their mother is amazing, she not only has triplets, but is co-president of the PTA and very involved in her daughter's lives. One of the triplets has juvenile diabetes that requires constant monitoring and her mother has fully accepted the challenge of having, as she puts it, "the healthiest diabetic daughter on the planet."
Rees often tells me about stories that the triplets have told or written: "Patrick the Apatosaurus" and something about how their father went to Kansas and was "famous." Once when helping in class with a letter writing assignment, one triplet read to me her sentence to a friend: “I have two sisters too, but we’re all the same age.” I think how their parents respond to the question, “How old are you daughters?” with a simple, “Seven.” The other day, Rees told me that the triplets had read another story they had written to the class. The story was called “Dave” and was about how their father gave birth to them.
Doesn’t that just take the cake? It’s bad enough if one of your children doesn’t give you any credit for birthing them, but if you are a mother who has carried and birthed triplets, well, that’s no small feat, to be sure, and not even a thank you! Actually, I think the mother helped them write their story down and reveled in the irony.
Of course, I wondered if the girls were triplets as a result of fertility treatments. I even sort of assumed that they were, making that even more that the mother had to endure to have them. I also assumed that three children would be a lifetime's worth of children, a houseful, enough.
For Christmas, the triplets got a puppy. They were getting old enough now to care for themselves, maybe they needed a new baby in the family.
Then, the other day, I was working in Rees' classroom and the teacher asked me to help one of the triplets with her math. The assignment was a long, four- or five-page worksheet of money problems. I sat down to help her and found that she was quite capable of doing the math; she just didn't seem that interested. "It's so long," she said. And she was right. Her mind seemed to wander and she wasn't engaged in the money part. Then she made an interesting comment. "My mommy's going to have a baby and the doctors are stealing all of her money." It was an odd thing to say, but I didn’t ask any questions, just sort of acknowledged what she said. Then she elaborated and went on to say something about how much a baby costs.
It was so interesting. And now it all made sense. There were days when her mother couldn't come to give her her insulin injections. I had heard things like "their mother is in the hospital" or "she is having surgery." The mother seemed quite healthy to me so I wondered what kind of illness she had. I thought maybe it was elective surgery or cosmetic surgery or something. But she was going to have another baby, which means she was having infertility treatments. Wow. No wonder her daughter couldn’t concentrate on the money math, her association with money was infertility treatments. Then there was the interesting idea that her daughter thought you had to pay to have a baby, and I guess for many that is true. Actually, Kadin sometimes says we should buy a baby. I had never thought how infertility treatments would look to a child’s eyes—to a young girl's eyes. I think on the one hand it makes more sense to a child that you go to the doctor, pay some money, and have a baby. I also know that these girls feel very loved and maybe they see this as another way they are very loved and wanted. I wonder how it will affect the way they see themselves becoming mothers. And I wonder how it influenced their story about their dad “Dave.” Maybe they think it’s their mother’s turn this time?