We twin mothers love to trade notes on the odd and ignorant comments and questions we get from strangers. Most of the time, we’re given an opportunity to educate and for people to coo over our little ones. Standard questions include “Are they natural?” and “Can you tell them apart?”.
I’m used to those questions. Then, there are these questions. The comments I’m sharing here came from a completely different place. These questions didn’t come from ignorance or curiosity.
They came from Cuckooland.
- What are they mixed? It turns out that the person asking this oddly phrased question wanted to know about my daughters’ ancestry/racial makeup. The comment-maker was herself biracial and was curious about my triracial girls. They are half Bengali (South Asian/Indian/choose your term), quarter Mexican (Hispanic/Native North American/Spanish) and quarter Caucasian (Scottish/Irish/French). I prefer the terms “people”, “children”, and “American”. “Twin-American” if you insist on hyphenation.
- How could you not rhyme their names? This question was posed to me by a mother of boy/girl twins whose daughter was in the same jazz dance class as my daughters. I am rarely left speechless, but she managed it. I came back with some weak answer about not wanting to echo the plight of the monozygotic twins in our family named Janice and Janet.
- Why do you dress them alike? Granted, this is less cuckoo than the other questions on this list, but the assumption that there could only be one way to do things drives me batty. When they were babies, it was because we were given so many matching outfits at our baby showers. And because it’s adorable. Once they per past age one, it was because M and J had opinions of their own.
- Why don’t you dress them alike? I’ve actually gotten this question on the very same day as Number 10. When they were babies, it was because it was way too much hassle to keep them coordinated. Also, J tended to want to be cooler than M, so she wore fewer layers. Once they were past age one, it was because J and M had opinions of their own.
- Which one’s the good one? I still don’t have a witty comeback for this one. Interestingly, I’ve only ever received this question from males.
- Which is the original? Which one is the clone? Oh my. I wish I had a couple of hours to sit down with this guy and give him some basic lessons in fetal development. And manners. Sadly, I didn’t have the time, so I just said, “That’s not how twins work. If you cut an apple in half, there isn’t an original side and a copy side. Each is a full half in its own right.” This wasn’t the best metaphor to use, but it was what I could think of while holding two crying babies and checking out of the grocery store with apple-pear-sauce ingredients.
- Do they have different personalities? I tried to imagine the internal world of this person. They must imagine identical twins all over the world walking around in lockstep and speaking at the same time.
- Do they have different names? I’m not George Foreman.
- If I pinch one, does the other feel it? No. Just no.
- Do they have ESP? I mustered up my creepiest stare.
- Were you pregnant for 18 months? I felt bad for this girl. She seemed to be college aged, but may have been younger. Her question was so genuine and her affection for the babies so honest, I didn’t have the heart for snark. I just told her that no, the babies started growing at the same time and grew at the same rate as regular ones, so I just got really big. I didn’t think she could handle any information about prematurity while she processed that.
- They are not identical. They’re wearing different colours. Here’s how I usually handle this type of comment. In this case, I just said, “‘Identical’ is more about how twins grew in the womb than how they look.” Sometimes, you have to pick your battles.
What’s the most oddball question or comment you’ve received so far?