It’s Okay to Think It: Responding to Twin Comments

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Most days, I recognize that when some asks me “Are they twins?”, they really mean, “I see you have twins, but I don’t want to jump to any conclusions. You might have just have a kid with a growth problem. I would like to open a conversation on the subject of (your) twins, so let me make sure that they are twins.” Then there are the days when I have been chocolate-deprived or sleep-deprived or my children are 3 years old or I am generally grumpy. On those days, don’t ask me these questions.

I may smile and answer your dumb questions about twins but you should know, I will laugh at you with all my twin mom friends later.

On days of the Sadia grumpies, here is what happens when talking to people I will generally label as Nice Person at the Grocery Store (NPGS).

NPGS: “Are they twins?”
Sadia’s internal monologue: Duh.
Sadia: “Yes, they are.”

NPGS: “Are they identical?”
Sadia’s internal monologue: Yes. The ultrasound said so. You see, they shared an outer sac, but not an inner sac, and that’s how we know. They’re “identical” only in the genetic sense. I wish I could get people to use the term “monozygotic”. That means they came from a single zygote, a single fertilized egg. It’s most fascinating to study how different monozygotic twins really are. You really should have asked if they were monozygotic. Look at ’em! They don’t look the same, so clearly they’re not “identical”! They could have been dizygotic twins, and still looked all kinds of similar. “Dizygotic” would have been what you meant if you’d said “fraternal”. There is no such thing as a “paternal” twin, so it’s a good thing you didn’t say that.
Sadia: “Yes.”

NPGS: “Can you tell them apart?”
Sadia’s internal monologue: Now why would I need to do that?
Sadia: “Yes.”

NPGS: “How do you tell them apart?”
Sadia’s internal monologue: They’re different people. How do you usually tell people apart? Go read Alice in Wonderland: `That’s just what I complain of,’ said Humpty Dumpty. `Your face is the same as everybody has — the two eyes, so –‘ (marking their places in the air with his thumb) `nose in the middle, mouth under. It’s always the same. Now if you had the two eyes on the same side of the nose, for instance — or the mouth at the top — that would be some help.’
Sadia: “They have very different personalities. And different noses. And different haircuts.”

In haven’t gotten this since they were infants, and it was probably because I dressed them in colours other than pink:
NPGS: “Which one’s the boy?”
Sadia’s internal monologue: I just told you they were monozygotic! Fine, there’s that one set of twins that’s monozygotic but different genders; I saw them on National Geographic. These are not they.
Sadia: “Both girls.”

NPGS:Who’s older?
Sadia’s internal monologue: How is that relevant? The whole age rank typecasting thing just doesn’t apply. They’re two minutes apart. They’re both bossy, if that’s what you’re asking. The doctor yanked J out first.
Sadia: Wave hand in the general direction of both girls. “That one.”

NPGS:You’ve got your hands full.
Sadia’s internal monologue: Why would I want my hands empty?
Sadia: *smile* or “Better full than empty.”

NPGS:Are they natural?
Sadia’s internal monologue: Are you really truly asking a stranger about her reproductive system? Really? You’re asking me whether their father and I had trouble conceiving? How is that any of your business? If I had gone through the trauma of finding myself infertile and the emotional, physical and financial rollercoaster of in-vitro fertilization, do you really think I would want to discuss at the check-out line, in front of my children? What if I were to turn around and ask you about your fertility level? Some people!
Sadia: “Yes, but I’m not sure infertility is an appropriate topic for discussion in front of my children.”

NPGS:Do twins run in your family?
Sadia’s internal monologue: Of course they run. In fact, they’re running right now. They jump too. And dance. Oh, there they go, skipping again. Someone’s going to get hurt.
Sadia: “In my mother-in-law’s family.”

NPGS: “Better you than me!”
Sadia’s internal monologue: No, kidding, with that attitude. I really hope you don’t have kids of your own. Your resentment of children is kind of obvious.
Sadia: “Yep!”

NPGS: “Oh you poor thing. Twins!”
Sadia’s internal monologue: You did NOT just say that in front of my children!
Sadia: Leave as quickly as possible.

NPGS: “Twins! I would kill myself.
Sadia’s internal monologue: See “Oh you poor thing.”
Sadia: See “Oh you poor thing.”

NPGS: “Double trouble.”
Sadia’s internal monologue: See “Oh you poor thing.”
Sadia: “Double fun, if you ask me!”

NPGS:How do you do it?
Sadia’s internal monologue: Pretty darn well, thank you very much.
Sadia: “They make it easy.” Or, if they’re arguing, “Oh, I just do my best.”

NPGS: “Were you trying to get pregnant?”
Sadia’s internal monologue: PRIVATE. PRIVATE. PRIVATE.
Sadia: “Oh, sure. We planned the pregnancy, and got a bonus prize.”

NPGS: “Were you trying to have twins?”
Sadia’s internal monologue: Huh? How, precisely, would I do that?
Sadia: “Huh?”

"Are they natural?" is a loaded question many strangers ask parents of multiples.

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Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 10-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. They live in the Austin, TX suburbs, where Sadia works full time in information technology. She contributes to a number of parenting websites and magazines and also runs The Mommy Blogging Guide, where she answers mommy bloggers' technical questions.

6 thoughts on “It’s Okay to Think It: Responding to Twin Comments”

  1. I’ve rarely been asked if my twins are natural, which is surprising to me, since mine are fraternal and the result of reproductive assistance. I have been asked if I did IVF (no, I didn’t), whether twins run in my family (they do, actually…) and whether I was surprised about twins, which I think is intended to be a more polite version of “are they natural?” I get asked the last one quite a lot. My usual response is, “I think twins are ALWAYS a surprise.”

  2. I think “Do twins run in the family?” is just a cover for “Are they natural?” It’s really too bad that people aren’t better educated about twins. Identical twins don’t run in any family, fraternal twins can only run on the maternal side, no one plans for twins, and no they are not both boys! We don’t have twins on my side of the family, but it’s so frustrating debating whether to explain all this every time I’m asked I should just say I have cousins who are twins. Husband’s dad actually does have cousins who are twins, not that that has any bearing on our twins, but it satisfies everyone who’s gotten that answer so far…

    I’m always wary of staring strangers when I’m out with the twins because of anticipating the stupid questions they are bound to start asking. It’s much better when Chinese people exclaim that we are so lucky for our Dragon Phoenix twins and leave it at that!

  3. This made me laugh!! I remember as a little kid people asking these questions to my mom. The one my sis and I get a lot now that we’re adults is “What’s it like to be a twin?” Our response; “What’s it like not to be?” DUH!!

    Just found your blog and can’t wait to read more!!

  4. You hit the nail on the head! “Monozygotic” is my response and the reaction I get is a look of supreme dumbfounded-ness, which makes my ‘inner monologue’ a satisfied smirk! Lol!

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