Four the Hird Way ... quadruplets 'pure joy' to their parents
They interrupted every question and shared jokes at every interval. That was a strong signal that the Hird quadruplets were not babies anymore.
Seated in birth order at The Gleaner Company's offices last Saturday, Ruthann-belle, Isabelle, Gabrielle and Annabelle, who all turned eight on Sunday, hardly gave their father, Reginald Hird, any time to talk.
Since they were thrust into the spotlight from birth, Gabrielle was known as the leader of the pack, and according to her father, things have somewhat remained the same.
"Gabrielle tends to be very domineering; she is more outspoken and she wants to represent everybody, but there are times when Ruthann will step in and remind her that she is the first one," he said, laughing.
"Isabelle is still reserved and Annabelle has her time," he said.
For Reginald and his wife Keisha, watching their children grow up has been a fulfilling experience.
"Watching their development is fun. It's nice when we see them growing from one stage to the next and overcoming different difficulties and achieving things. It makes you feel very good. Every step of the way, however, there are challenges that are involved, and we have to find means and ways of overcoming those challenges," he told The Gleaner.
"They are now at the stage where they pack their backpacks and lunch kits. However, their mother is still up by 5:30 every morning to fix breakfast, and when she leaves for work, I take over, making sure they are dressed and take them to school," he said
What has been most rewarding for the couple is that the siblings, who all attend Kensington Primary School in St Catherine, have been doing exceptionally well academically. He indicated that even at their tender age, the quadruplets understand the importance of being punctual.
"We don't like to be late. We love when Daddy takes us to school early because we are all on the honour roll, and if we are late, we will no longer be on it, so we have to be on time," Annabelle said, while the others nodded in agreement.
"Mommy always makes sure that our homework is done and every single one of our projects is done properly," the last of the quadruplets continued.
"We have to know our words and both of them check our books every day," Gabrielle said.
Their father added, "Mom has been very helpful and committed. When she knows they have a test, she sometimes will prepare a pretest just to make sure they are ready. We work very hard as parents to instil the importance of a good education, and it has been paying off," he said.
"For the most part, you don't have to be in their backs for them to get their school work done. They will not leave the house unless they know all their work is completed, and as they (Annabelle and Gabrielle) said, they don't like to be late. As the clock strikes seven, they are on my back reminding me that they need to be at school early," the proud father declared.
He admitted that though the girls are not big fans of playtime, Ruthann-Belle is an avid sports fanatic.
"Isabelle is not really into playing and overall I don't think they play a lot. Ruthann, however, loves sports, specifically athletics. There is a strong possibility that she will be part of the school's track team for the Primary Schools Championships," he said.
They all agreed that though they have conflicts, they are very protective of each other.
"We quarrel all the time, whether it's pencils or other school things, but we always check on each other," Gabrielle explained.
"Ruthann is very caring; if any of them takes sick in the night, Ruthann is the one who will come and wake us to inform us that one of her sisters is not feeling well. Reginald added.
Using his own experience, he used this platform to encourage parents to support their children and to be integral in their lives.
"For them, showing up at school functions is very important; they don't want to know that their friends' parents show up for PTA (parent-teacher association) and their mom or dad didn't even show up, so I have seen first-hand that children want their parents to be involved.
"I have also found out that children are very understanding, but it's how you explain things to them. One of the things that children have to undergo is peer pressure, and so very often you find that they want things that they see their friends with.
"Our kids, however, know that they will have to take their lunch to school, as we are not able to give them money every day to purchase food. So we don't have problems with them pressuring us to get things. We have explained to them things we have to do, the challenges we face, and how we overcome them, so parents have to be strategic," he said.
"It's a joy to see them achieving stuff. When you see them doing things that you don't have to help them with anymore, when you look at their report card, all of it is pure joy," he concluded, smiling.