Tuesday, August 20, 2013

There's A Fine Line Between Practical Jokes And Dishonesty

Dear Tazi:

I am an identical twin – and I mean identical; even our friends can’t always tell my sister and me apart just by looking at us. While I am somewhat shy and very studious, my sister is very outgoing (she will talk to anyone, anywhere) and kind of a practical joker – she sometimes likes to pretend she is me.

When we were kids, “Melanie” and I would pretend to be each other to fool people. A few times – very few times, because I knew it was wrong – I would take a test for her that she was going to fail. Melanie just isn’t very good at math and I am a whiz at it, so I would take her test for her, making just enough mistakes so the teacher wouldn’t wonder why she was doing so badly on the homework but getting A’s on her tests. I only did this because our parents were very strict about school, and Melanie was trying her best to pass on her own.
Now that we are older and our personalities are more developed I don’t like playing the whole “twin game” we had as kids, especially since Melanie puts herself out there so much more than me; I am really uncomfortable talking to strangers or even cute guys I do know. In short, it’s gotten easier to tell us apart – especially for our teachers.

Melanie is very into theatre and has no problem pretending to be me, which she did during final exams last school year. She was completely unprepared for a math exam and pretended to be me because she knew the teacher would allow me to reschedule for a later date but not her. This forced me to go into the exam as Melanie and then take my exam on make-up day. I am pretty sure the teacher knew I was not Melanie, so I pretended to be sick to explain why “Melanie’s” personality was off that day.

This school year, I have the same math teacher as last and I am afraid to face her because I think she knows what Melanie and I pulled last year. She has no proof, and since it was a math exam she can’t really compare our handwriting, but I think she suspects us of being dishonest. I saw her at the store this summer and she called me Melanie, paused, and added, “Or are you ‘Melissa’?” This is our senior year of high school, so doing well will be very important because we will both be applying to college. I want my sister to do well, but I can’t go on lying for her and taking exams for her! Especially since I think we may already have been caught! If Melanie tries to pretend she is me again, how can I get around it without getting her in trouble? If I go along with what she wants and we are caught, then we will both get in huge trouble!


Dear Melissa:

If you think your teacher suspects something, you are probably right. Adults are not as stupid as teenagers like to think they are. Even the most identical twins have differences that set them apart – be it a slightly narrower jaw or a thicker eyelashes; a different tone of voice or even their physical stance (aka body language) can provide clues as to which twin is which! Unless your sister can give a performance like Sally Field, I doubt she was able to nail your personality with such exactness that your teacher was completely fooled by it. Most teachers are willing to give the benefit of the doubt, which is probably why she let things slide...until she saw you pretending to be your sister. However, without proof she really could not do anything about it.

In real life things don't work out like they did at Sweet Valley High!

Since grades are already recorded and cannot be changed, there is nothing that can be done about the fraud that has already been perpetrated, but you can bet that your teacher will be keeping both eyes open to ensure that it does not happen again! The only way to make sure you stay out of trouble is to refuse to associate with it. Tell your sister your worries, and that you will help her to study her math but you will not take the tests for her. Let her know up-front that you will not cover for her if she pretends to be you. While this may sound like a cruel abandonment of your twin in a time of need, think about the position she is putting you in: by pretending to be you even after you have warned she not to she is disrespecting you.

Once school starts, you will have to work to regain your teacher’s trust. Once she sees that you are an earnest and honest student she may chalk up her doubts to end-of-year stress and let them fall by the wayside; do not give her a reason to reignite them, lest you find both you and your sister being expelled for academic dishonesty. You are far too young to spoil your future over something like failing a math test.



Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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