Quadruplets keep parents on their toes

5-year-olds beginning to establish their own identity, personalities.

There is never a dead moment in the Bakewell house in Anderson, Ind. For parents Tom and Laura, the day begins at 5:30 a.m. and ends after their children have finally fallen asleep. Though this is a characteristic of most families, the Bakewell's are unique. There are no stairstep children running around, just a set of four 5-year -olds.

The Bakewell's life started in to heavy rotation five years ago when Laura gave birth to Ball Memorial Hospital's first and only set of quadruplets. The set was perfect: two boys and two girls.

Gabrielle, who they call Gabey, has light red hair while Rachel is a blonde. Derek has brown hair and Justin is a toe-head. Gabey likes Barbie dolls while Rachel likes horses. Laura said the relationships are just like you would expect - the girls are best friends.

On the other hand, Laura described the boys as "polar opposites."

"Derek, he's my helper. He's such a mommy's boy. Justin is so high-strung. He can disrupt the flow of things if he can," she said.

Tattling happens, but the four are quick to stick up for each other. A couple of weeks ago, the children were sitting and watching their favorite cartoon, "Dexter's Laboratory," when Rachel got in trouble and had to take a time-out on the steps. Laura said Justin cried and couldn't understand why his mother was being so "mean."

"He can't stand to see other people hurt," Laura said.

The children go to Park Place Children's Center when Tom and Laura, who are both Anderson University graduates, go to work. Tom takes the children to daycare, which is located on the AU campus, where he is an athletic trainer and teaches a class.

Laura said after dinner the rest of the night is dedicated to preventing them from tearing the house apart. A load of laundry is done every night, they go through a gallon of milk a day, and when they get pizza, they're already up to two larges.

Before the days of buying diapers in bulk ever began, the Bakewell's knew they were going to have triplets.

"They said there were three and in September they found the fourth," Laura said.

They were born on Oct. 24, 1996. Laura said having the quadruplets was a big deal for a small community, but company's weren't knocking down their door to offer free products

Five years later, Laura said people forget who they are. On the rare occasions they go out, people think they are sets of twins.

Now the quadruplets are establishing their own identity and won't let Laura dress them alike anymore. Gabey won't wear tennis shoes and likes flared jeans.

Laura even thinks they might be beginning to understand the uniqueness of being quadruplets. About a year ago Gabey made a comment about having babies when she grows up.

According to Laura, Gabey said "but I'm going to have mine one at a time."

"Maybe she does realize it," Laura said.

What is even more individualistic about the kids is their interests in extracurricular activities. They all play soccer and take swim lessons, but the Bakewell's dread the day where they are running to four different places on Saturdays.

Taking on this task will be tough, since they don't have any family near Anderson. Tom is from Pennsylvania and Laura is from Ohio.

"This stage is hard and challenging, but I dread the time they're teens," Laura said. "I think about them fighting over the car, but there's no way to really prepare."

Laura said there never really was time to prepare.

"I can't believe it's been five years. It doesn't seem like it," she said. "What makes it so different and challenging other than having four (children), is that you're a first time parent bringing four infants home. You do a lot of winging it."

According to their mother, the Bakewell children are also bundles of humor. Although it didn't seem funny at the time, Laura laughed about an adventure the children had with yogurt one day while she was sick.

The quadruplets dumped two packages of yogurt on the kitchen floor and made a skating rink. Although Laura realized it was a joke in itself, she still made them clean it up.

"You can only look back at this stuff and laugh," she said.

While discipline gets easier by the day, the Bakewells are constantly learning. Next fall the kids will be off to an all-day kindergarten where they will be in the same class.

"They're growing up so fast," Laura said. "Too fast. Unfortunately you do miss out because you're so busy trying to get through (the day). You learn to appreciate them. I look at their baby pictures and think, 'Where did my little cute babies go?'"


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