from hospital ankle bracelets to sports jersey numbers

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Categories Activities, Ask the Readers, Identical, Multiple Types, Other people, Parenting Twins, Relationships, School-AgeTags , , , , , , , , 4 Comments

I’ve written a little before about my efforts to help the boys’ teachers and friends tell them apart. I’m happy to report that their teacher, by mid-October, had found some tiny freckle on one boy’s face that he can use to tell them apart. Their friends still have no idea and arbitrarily call them by one name or the other.

But now, let’s talk about sports!

like the scarlet letter, but white

My boys played tee ball last spring, and their coaches learned which boy wore which pair of shoes so they could call them by name. Yes, their coaches were that awesome, because both sets of shoes are mostly grey and black, and just have tiny bits that are green or red.

They played flag football this summer, and that was trickier. For one thing, black cleats were pretty standard. For another, it’s not like tee ball where the kids are mostly coached one by one, or assigned a spot. The boys had big numbers on the backs of their jerseys, but from the front it was anyone’s guess.

To help the coaches (and everyone), I took to putting an X in surgical tape on one boy’s shirt. I felt so weird about this — first because I was afraid he wouldn’t like it, but he didn’t mind. But I still felt like I was branding him in some odd way. I also felt like maybe I was making a bigger deal out of this than it needed to be.

It turned out to be a good thing. Their coaches were great about remembering which boy got the X (the one who has an X in his name, which made it easier) and my boys benefited from being called by name. And I have to admit, I relied on that X to keep track of who was where from the sidelines. It saved me from a lot of, “YAY! GREAT JOB– (who was that?) — GREAT JOB, um, SON!”

When your look-alike multiples are in uniforms, what strategies do you use to help other people tell them apart?
Jen is a work-from-home mom of 7-year-old twin boys, and two girls ages 5 and 9. She also blogs at Minivan MacGyver, where she freaks out about every single thing that happens at school.

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How do you help other people tell your multiples apart?

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Categories Family, Identical, Other peopleTags , , , , 21 Comments
Our Little Girls Wearing Pink and Yellow Dresses

Last weekend, we were at a family wedding and some other related family events. Of course, everyone wanted to know which baby was which.  This is a common question since we have identical twin girls, who look very much alike. Friday night, one baby was wearing a pink outfit, and I knew she’d have a pink dress on Saturday for the wedding, and it would be easy to dress her in pink on Sunday morning so I let people know she’d be the baby wearing pink all weekend. Her sister wore yellow and green. They are only 8 months old, so they couldn’t complain about my clothing choices. But, it raised the question of how you help other people identify your multiples.

Right now, we (Mom, Dad and the few other people who can tell them apart) have a few ways to tell the girls apart but they are based on:

  • Comparisons – when both babies are together you can see that one is a little bigger, but when they are separate this doesn’t really work
  • Context – at mealtime one of the babies is usually more interested in food than her sister, so this only works when they’re eating and it isn’t really reliable
  • Temporary characteristics – right now one baby has 2 teeth and her sister doesn’t have any yet, but that will change soon
  • Artificial characteristics – we painted one baby’s toenails pink when she came home from the hospital so we wouldn’t mix them up

I rely on the girls’ birthmarks to help me tell them apart, but those are starting to fade and are only visible from some angles.  So, we’re thinking about assigning each girl a colour (probably pink and yellow) and then making sure we dress them in those colours, at least when anyone else is around.  I’m concerned that doing this will make it easy for people to rely on their outfits to tell them apart rather than focusing on what makes them unique individuals.  But, I also want the girls to feel they are welcome and included and that people know who they are. Maybe assigning them colours will make it easier for people to focus on the babies as individuals because they will know who is who.

I do see some potential problems with this approach:

  • Most of the girls’ clothing was received as gifts or hand-me-downs so I don’t have a lot of control over what is in their dresser
  • I think I’d have to assign groups of colours to each baby (pink/purple/blue and yellow/green/white) because they have lots of clothing that isn’t pink or yellow, which could get confusing
  • The feminist in me has problems with dressing baby girls only in pink clothing
  • At some point they are going to want to make their own clothing choices

I guess the biggest issue is that really have problems making my parenting decisions based on what’s best for everyone else rather than what’s best for my children. So, is assigning each baby a colour a decision that will be good for them or not?  Can anyone share their experiences with this issue or other ways to help family and friends tell your multiples apart?

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Identity Crisis

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Categories Identical, Other peopleTags , 12 Comments

My boys look alike.

Thankfully they have distinct voices and personalities. And, for the most part, I can tell them apart by sight as well. Although, occasionally even I will look at a photo and say, “I’m not sure but I THINK that is…..” For example, this photo:

I could make an educated guess. But I won’t. Because I would likely be wrong.

This concerns me, because if I, the mother who knows them better than anyone (excluding their father, of course) can get confused, that most certainly means the rest of the world will be even MORE confused.

And they are not interchangable. They are unique. They are their own people.

We try to help out the rest of the world. We try to eliminate those awkward moments at family parties where an aunt or uncle wants to call to one of them but really…has no clue which boy it is. Or worse, is confident they DO know them apart, when in fact, they are wrong.

So, we resist the urge to put them in adorable matchy-matchy outfits and we use clothing to provide visual clues to the outside world of who is who. When we are out in public, Blue=Brady. Simple as that. No confusion, no awkward pause. Aunts, uncles and cousins can always say with complete confidence “Hello, Brady” or “Here’s a cracker, Aaron.”

This has been working for us since their birth. Because it goes beyond eliminating the discomfort of others. It provides Aaron and Brady with their own, easily recognized identities with no pause or confusion. And our family and friends can focus more on their other qualities rather than spending entire visits distinguishing who is who. They are almost never referred to as “the twins”. They are Aaron and Brady. “Brady Blue”, but Brady nonetheless.

Do any other MoMs consciously give the outside world a little friendly nudge? If so, what do you do? I’d love to hear other ideas!

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