ALEXANDRIA (AP) — Grant, Claire and Caroline Pearson have a bond they say most people just don’t get.

“We think the same way,” said Grant, the oldest of the three siblings. “We can just look at each other and know.”

They share that bond as triplets, which often becomes the topic of conversation when meeting new people. The most popular question is what it’s like to be a triplet, they said.

“People ask that a lot,” Claire said. “They wonder what it’s like.”

Sitting in birth order from left to right — which they often do inadvertently —the oldest, Grant, answers first.

“It was nice always having someone around who’s your age,” Grant said. “We didn’t have to make up imaginary friends because they were there. We had friends.”

But on a serious note, the three say their connection is something they love.

“Any difficulty — if one of us has it, we all kind of have it,” said Claire, who was born one minute after her brother.

Like a good big brother, Grant added, “If you mess with one, you mess with all of us. We’re a package deal.”

Their parents, Brent and Lucy Pearson, get asked about having triplets all the time, too.

“It’s exciting, fun, hard at times — all worth it,” Lucy said. “Every good thing is multiplied because I get to experience it with three of them. We’re really blessed.”

As fraternal triplets, the three Pearsons are not identical, not even the two girls. They said sometimes people don’t believe they’re triplets, especially when at a restaurant that gives out free dessert for birthdays.

But even sharing a birthday — and in turn, a birthday party — each July wasn’t so bad.

“I never thought of it as a negative,” Grant said. “I think one year when we were 11 or 12 we did (want to be different), so we all got different cakes.”

Sometimes they get lumped together as “the triplets,” but Claire said their differences aren’t hard to find.

“Our personalities are so different,” Claire said.

“We’re pretty independent,” said Caroline, who was born two minutes after her sister.

That’s evidenced in the sports they chose, for example. Grant plays tennis, Claire plays soccer and runs cross country and track, and Caroline does gymnastics and cheerleading. This also kept them from competing against each other in sports.

As the guy, Grant says it’s a little easier to stand out in the trio, while Claire and Caroline say they’re often called by the other’s name.

“Sometimes I just answer (to Claire),” Caroline said.

Grant said he never felt left out of the group because he’s the guy, but said his sisters team up sometimes.

“They gang up on me,” he joked.

The Pearsons differ in academics, too. Caroline is “amazing in math,” her siblings agree, and Claire takes the cake in English and writing. Grant’s strength is science, but his sisters say he’s “good at everything.”

They said they always helped each other when it came to school — right down to the end with Claire helping Caroline write her valedictorian speech.

The teamwork paid off, with all three of them graduating with honors from Holy Savior Menard Central High School last week. Grant and Caroline were named Bishop Greco Scholars and Claire a Father Menard Scholar.

Although graduation has come and gone, the 18-year-olds aren’t used to being out of high school yet.

“It didn’t hit me until the day after that I was done with high school, but I’m excited,” Grant said.

The trio will head to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge this fall. Grant and Caroline will be pre-med students, and Claire will major in communication disorders.

They looked at other schools, not necessarily intending to go to the same college, but all three decided on their parents’ alma mater, LSU.

Claire said the campus visit was a little daunting, though, coming from a small school like Menard.

“It was weird because it was so big,” Claire said. “I remember looking at a building and thinking, ‘You could fit 10 Menards in one building.’”

But they said they’re excited about experiencing the school’s “energy” as well as its academics.

They’ll stick together in college, too, possibly getting an apartment together after doing the “dorm thing” the first year. Claire and Caroline will room together in the fall, and Grant will room with a friend from Menard.

The triplets said they’ll continue to help each other with schoolwork at LSU, but Grant jokes about getting a little more help from his sisters.

“They’re going to wash my clothes,” he said. His sisters disagreed.

Although the teens are excited, their parents might not be in such a hurry to send them two hours away.

“My mom’s going to go so crazy when we all leave,” Grant joked.

Grant, Claire and Caroline might find it hard to say goodbye to their friends from Menard as well.

They were part of a graduating class of 60 students and went to school with most of their classmates since before high school, making them like family, too.

Caroline said some of their friends jokingly call themselves “the quadruplet.”

“There’s some argument over who gets that fourth spot,” Caroline said.