By KATHERINE DALE, Vandegrift Voice
Quintuplets – five offspring born from a single birth – are an atypical phenomenon, happening in roughly every one out of 60 million births domestically. Since the first set of quintuplets, society has been fascinated by the oddity of the situation; this was no different for the Jones family. Life for the Jones family forever changed after the birth of their quintuplets, which inspired a new television show and a slew of new opportunities and experiences.
Now, siblings Britton, Brooklyn, Jack, Lila, and Ryan are all grown up and have started high school, which comes with a plethora of other unique challenges as the quintuplets work to find identities outside of being a quint.
“There are definitely a lot of times where I do wish that we were different ages, or at least went to different schools,” Brooklyn said. “Most of the time, I’m recognized first as a sibling, then as a person.”
In 2010, a new show premiered on The Learning Channel (TLC) that chronicled the life of the Jones family as they dealt with the everyday struggles and joys of raising quintuplets. The show – Quints by Surprise – was a success, garnering international support and earning three seasons on the network. For the quintuplets, the constant filming and recognition from the show changed the way that they spent their early childhood lives.
“The show definitely impacted my life,” Britton said. “I remember being stopped in the grocery store with my grandparents when we were still filming and having people come up to us and recognize us from the show. People bring up the show a lot and it was a part of my life that I can’t really remember because I was so young.”
Although some may think the life of those on reality TV is glamorous and flashy, in actuality, growing up on a silver screen can be difficult, especially as a developing child. Despite this uncomfort, the Jones quintuplets have triumphed through the complexities of notoriety at a young age.
“Going to elementary school, people’s parents would recognize us when we started school,” Brooklyn said. “Parents would say that they knew who we were before we met their kid and it was kind of strange.”
Finding yourself and your identity is a major facet of young adulthood. During adolescence, you discover your hobbies and interests; you experiment with your hair, style, and appearance. As a teenager, you discover who you are, what you want in life, and form your original selfhood. For someone who has always been known as a quintuplet, as someone inside of a larger group, this can be laborious.
“People do their best to try and not make it a big deal,” Britton said. “When I’m with my friends, we rarely ever talk about my siblings, but other people like to bring it up a lot and ask me questions. When I’m with my friends, I feel like an individual, but strangers tend to see me as just a quint.”
In spite of society placing the Jones siblings into a box, they have still managed to form their own personalities and characters. Lila and Ryan are members of the soccer program, Jack is on the tennis team, Britton is a junior varsity cheerleader, and Brooklyn enjoys theater and art. Although for most of their lives they have been labeled as strictly similar, the quintuplets want to be known for their individuality.
“For my electives, I’m in art and theater,” Brooklyn said. “I really like doing those, I did them in middle school as well. Lila is also in art, but we’re not in the same class. I have no classes with my siblings, which is kind of weird to me.”
Beginning high school is frightening. Finding a spot in the cafeteria, locating your classes, finding your clique, adapting to the academics; high school is a step up from middle school. However, being a quintuplet can help make the transition easier.
“My favorite part of being a quintuplet is always having somebody who has my back,” Lila said. “With my siblings, I have a friend everywhere that I go.”
Although there are obvious negatives with having an army of same aged siblings, being a quintuplet can provide a sense of belonging and community.
“I have no classes with my siblings,” Britton said.”But I like knowing that they’re here at the school. For me, it is like having my own group of supporters that I know will always be there.”
Overall, despite the hectic and crazy early years, the lives of the Jones siblings are acclimated and regular. In high school, they participate in activities, have different groups of friends, and live a typical life.
“When we were on the show, we were very young,” Lila said. “I can only recall a few moments from filming, but my parents always used to be stopped on the street and sent things in the mail. Today, it doesn’t really have an impact on my life because most young people haven’t heard of it.”
The childhood of the Jones quintuplets has been unconventional, however, the siblings have settled into high school and greater ventures with success, ready to take on the new chapter of their lives.
“I personally like the way that I grew up,” Britton said. “It was all out of my control and it was God’s plan for us. [Being a quintuplet] is such a unique experience that no one in your school has gone through and I believe that it happened for a reason. I would not be the person I am today if I grew up in a normal household.”
Katherine Dale, a Vandegrift junior, is thrilled to be Sports Editor on the Voice. In her free time, she enjoys reading, spending time with family, and listening to music. On campus, Katherine is involved in Choir and UIL Academics. She has two black cats, Betty and Bonnie, that she loves dearly.