11-Plus triplets parents’ joy
ANYONE WHO HAS PREPARED a child for the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination is well aware that it calls for months of meticulous revision and attention to detail and patience.
Imagine its intensity when multiplied by three.
This simple maths may be complex to some, but the Boyce-Gollop family was ready for the task. Sophia Boyce – mother of triplets Devon, Tiana and Tiffany Gollop – made sure that even when she was at work in the evening, her children were gearing up for one of the most important tests of their lives.
“I don’t know what it was like for other households, but in here, every piece of paper or information Sophia finds about [the BSEE] she brought home and gave it to the kids. Sometimes I felt like it was too much,” dad Keithlyn Gollop said.
Work gets in way
But Sophia disagreed: “When I was not [working] I was able to help them with their homework on evenings, but now I work 12 (noon) to 8 p.m. and I am not home to help. That was a problem for me. Knowing I was not there to help them was really playing on my mind.”
And when she did not have the answers, Sophia enlisted the help of the teachers she worked with at the Frederick Smith centre of the Continuing Education Programme, where she has worked as a clerk/typist for the past five years. This was but one example of how this family relied on a strong, interconnected village to raise three very different children.
Tiana, Devon (waving), and a smiling Tiffany off to the 11-plus with mum Sophia.
And Sophia’s hard work was paying off: her children arose to call her blessed when the SUNDAY SUN popped in last Friday morning. Beautiful, playful, bashful and amazing were some of the ways they shyly described their mother.
Admittedly, Sophia cried when three heartbeats were confirmed during her five-month pregnancy check-up almost 12 years ago. The 42-year-old said there were twins in both families, and therefore she was expected to carry on the “tradition”.
“When I went back to the doctor for my fifth month, he was very surprised because . . . the month before I had no stomach and then all of a sudden my stomach was big. I went for an ultrasound and [the technician] asked all the regular questions. [While conducting] the ultrasound, he said that I was carrying triplets as a joke,” she said during an interview at their breezy Lewis Village, St Thomas home.
But words spoken in jest eventually were confirmed as truth.
“I was happy, but terrified. You know what is three kids? [I thought], oh my God, what I was going to do? I was looking for twins, especially since my brothers before me were twins, but when I heard three . . .”
Keithlyn, an entrepreneur, was more excited than Sophia, and told the news to fellow electricians on his job site. They teased him relentlessly. Ironically, one of the men “who made the most sport” eventually fathered triplets as well.
“[All of the guys started saying that] we started something new. No one wanted to shake our hands, and saying that it is something that we have and [they] don’t want it,” the father recalled with a wry smile.
Devon, Tiana and Tiffany were born healthy and “ready” for the world on September 17, 2003. And when Sophia decided to return to her job as an office assistant, her “phenomenal” mother, Menas Boyce, kept the children.
“She was 70 at the time. After the first year of work I decided to come home with them,” the now grateful daughter said.
The triplets were easy to manage as babies – a trait that continued into their older years. Of course, some distinct characteristics eventually began to show.
“Tiffany is the mummy,” Sophia explained. “She is very mothering towards the other two, but also clings to them. I don’t think she can cope without them. She likes to know that her brother and sister are around her.”
“Tiana likes to do her own thing. She is more independent than the others, and she was like that from the time she was months old,” Keithlyn, a former student of the Princess Margaret Secondary School, noted.
Devon was described by his mother as someone who “doesn’t let anything faze him. He is contented to play his games, watch TV and play on his Kindle.”
When they are together at home, they bicker “. . . about any and everything” Sophia said frankly, provoking protestations from the children.
“At night when you send them to bed, they go in the bed and they would bicker. And just before they go to bed, you would hear them laughing at something and then they would go to sleep. But I know they will stick together and fight for each other.”
Sophia hoped and prayed that the clan would stay together through secondary school – for their sake and hers.
“A lot of schools have form level meetings and if you have children at different schools, you [may] have to go to different meetings the same day. I don’t want to have to choose,” the Alleyne School alumna said.
The St Michael School, Queen’s College and Combermere were the top choices for these Eden Lodge Primary school students. But whatever the future holds, their mother will be their biggest cheerleader: “I want to see them achieve what they want to achieve, whatever they want. And I will back them. I will be there for them as long as the Lord gives me strength and life.” (Green Bananas Media)