By Starrla Cray
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN With 11 sets of twins in preschool through 12th grade, excitement at Lester Prairie School is multiplied every day.
Some twins are opposites, while others are tough to tell apart. The identical ones, of course, like to take advantage of this from time to time.
“One time, in third grade, Wyatt and I switched desks to fool our teacher, Mrs. Roth,” recalls Garrett Berry, who is now a fifth-grader.
Fellow fifth-grade twins Madelyn and Makaisa Stockman have played similar tricks, swapping their earrings during the school day.
“The best part about being a twin is having someone to play with all the time,” Madelyn says.
For freshman Taylor Trettin, the hardest part about being a twin is sharing clothes. Ironically, her twin, Tori, says sharing clothes is one of the highlights.
When Garrett and Wyatt shop for clothes, they tend to pick similar outfits.
“They sometimes like to dress the same; I leave that up to them,” says their mother, Robin.
Identical third-graders Hannah and Hailey Hyland generally prefer their own style when it comes to clothing, but many of their relatives still have to look twice to tell who’s who.
Double the personality
Personality-wise, the Hyland girls are “complete opposites” according to their mother, Jennifer.
“As different as they are, though, they do have a lot of similarities,” Jennifer adds. “One will ask a question when the other one isn’t around, and then, five or 10 minutes later, her sister will come to me and ask the identical question.”
Sixteen-year-olds Jacob and Mitchell Roth also have distinctive personalities.
“He likes sports more, and I like music more,” Jacob says. “He’s also a lot taller than I am, and everyone thinks that’s really funny.”
Identical or not, having a sibling the same age can make for a bit of friendly competition.
“Jacob and I were determined to do better than the other on our permit test, and we got the same score,” Mitchell says.
Twins also compare age, even though they were born on the same day.
“Garrett is older than me by 30 seconds,” Wyatt says.
Double the fun
Having a “built-in” friend for games, sports, and homework help are a few of the perks of being a twin.
Wyatt says he and Garrett both “wrestle, play baseball, love to play video games, and like to hang out with each other.”
First-grade twins Madelyn and Dylan Schlechter both enjoy playing at the park together.
“It’s fun talking to [my twin sister] when I’m bored,” adds Laura Ruelas, 11, whose twin, Jasmine, attends St. Pius X School.
Double the trouble
Twins can also get into twice the mischief, as Wyatt can testify:
“I was riding a bike doing a no-hander, and I asked for some sour spray. So, I said ‘let’s get close, so you can spray sour spray in my mouth.’ Then, when he squirted the sour spray in my mouth, it ended up in my eyes. When it was in my eyes, I hit a curb and fell off my bike because my eyes were burning and it hurt.”
Thirteen-year-olds Kobe and Olivia Sanders recall a comparable story. Kobe explains, “Once, she was chasing me with a golf club, and I ran into a tree.”
Eduardo and Victor Ruelas, 7, also create outdoor excitement together.
“We went sledding and we fell down,” Eduardo says.
Double the sharing
Some sets of twins admit that they fight from time to time, and it can be tough sharing a room or sharing toys.
“Whenever we get mad at each other, we just stare at each other for a while; then, we start laughing,” Madelyn Stockman says.
“I have to share with my brother,” Wyatt notes. “There’s a lot of arguing.”
Fortunately, disagreements don’t last long.
“They’ll lie in bed talking to each other, and say how glad they are to have each other, and that they’re happy they were born on the same day,” says Robin (Garrett and Wyatt’s mom).
Double the challenges
Moments like those are rewarding for Robin and her husband, David, but raising twins also presents unique challenges.
Garrett and Wyatt had twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) in the womb, a rare condition in which the exchange of blood and nutrients is not balanced between the twins. After the twins were born, Wyatt needed to wear a helmet for awhile, due to a craniofacial defect.
Ron and Shelly Trettin also had a stressful beginning with their daughters, Tori and Taylor.
“It was a pretty risky pregnancy,” Shelly says, explaining that they were monochorionic twins, sharing one placenta.
When the girls were born, one weighed 4 pounds and 7 ounces, while the other was just 2 pounds and 13 ounces. Today, Taylor has diabetes, but both girls are doing well.
“They’re always together,” Shelly says.
Identical and fraternal
The likelihood of having twins naturally is about 2.1 percent (1 in 47), according to www.twin.com.
Most twins are fraternal, which means that more than one egg was fertilized. With identical twins, one fertilized egg splits in half.
Identical twins are rare, accounting for about .4 percent (1 in 250) of total births in the US.
At Lester Prairie School, nearly 5 percent of all 447 students in preschool through 12th grade are twins. Five of the 11 sets are identical:
• Preschool Ayla and Ella Bebo*
• Kindergarten Daejon and Kaiyana Lindsey
• First grade Madelyn and Dylan Schlechter
• Second grade Eduardo and Victor Ruelas
• Third grade Hailey and Hannah Hyland*
• Fifth grade Madelyn and Makaisa Stockman*
• Fifth grade Garret and Wyatt Berry*
• Sixth grade Laura Ruelas (Jasmine goes to St. Pius X)
• Eighth grade Kobe and Olivia Sanders
• Ninth grade Taylor and Tori Trettin*
• 11th grade Jacob and Mitchell Roth
(*Indicates identical twins)
The chance of having fraternal twins is higher for certain women, including those who:
• are taking fertility drugs or have undergone in vitro fertilization (IVF);
• are a twin or have twins in their family;
• are older moms (Women over age 35 produce more follicle stimulating hormone, which may cause more than one egg to be released at a time.);
• have given birth to a set of fraternal twins before;
• are African American; or
• have a large or tall body type.