We have identical twin boys and we dress them differently. By differently, I don’t mean we dress them up all weird (one as a cowboy and one as a spaceman – we’d have definitely called them Buzz and Woody) but rather, we dress them in non-matching clothes.
If you’ve shared a womb with someone for the best part of a year do you really need to share a wardrobe?
Maybe I’ve watched The Shining too many times, but there’s something about twins wearing matching outfits that freaks me out. Thankfully I don’t own a decrepid, old hotel, or have identical twin girls who love tricycles, but it would still strike fear through my heart in our small surburban semi-detatched house.
More than one person wearing the same outfit makes it a uniform. A uniform that a team would wear. A team that would make it their objective to defeat me. By dressing them differently I’m effectively implementing the ‘divide and conquer’ principle, which may seem a bit harsh considering they’re only 16 weeks old. However, if it’ll stop them from using each other as a human stepladder to steal my secret biscuits when they’re teenagers then I’m all for it.
Of course, any team’s greatest weapon against their parental overlords would be to wreak confusion as to their identities and we’d be giving them the advantage if they were sharing outfits.
In truth, getting them mixed up was one of my biggest fears when we found out we were having twins.
When the pregnancy had just begun I joked about it. We all had a good laugh at ways to prevent this. These included:
- Putting nail varnish on one of them
- Keeping them in alphabetical order AT ALL TIMES
- Shaving their names into their hair
None of these were serious suggestions, especially the last one. I did however, store all of them in my head as possible options. Especially the last one.
I was genuinely scared that I wouldn’t know who was who when I got them home from the hospital. I’m someone who gets people mixed up when they don’t even share the same ethnicity, let alone the same weight, size and face.
It’s one thing putting your foot in it by using the wrong name socially but it’s a whole other world of pain if you feed the same twin twice while neglecting the other one, or give them the wrong medicine. Or worse still, attend the wrong wedding.
One of the more practical solutions for avoiding mix ups was to dress them differently. My wife was all for this as it meant she could buy twice as many new clothes. We’ve stuck to that and now I know which twin is which, but don’t have a clue who owns which clothes. Thankfully, my wife is on the ball and that keeps me on my toes, otherwise I’d definitely have softened from our hard-line fashion stance in the middle of one of the more ‘trying’ moments that twin parenthood can throw your way. There’s no way I’d be carefully selecting a new body suit from the correct drawer at 4am in the middle of a scream-filled synchronized poo-fest. I’d be grabbing the nearest thing to me and dressing them as quickly as possible, most likely resulting in them modeling the latest pillow case / daddy’s underpants combo. And nobody needs that.
It’s not just real life where I wanted clarity either – we wanted to identify the twins in photographs. When I was a wee nipper a photo wasn’t the common occurance it is in this snap-happy age of mobile phones, selfie-sticks and preposterous pouting. The Native Americans said a photograph would strip part of your soul away – if that’s true then we’re all heading straight for Hell. But never mind that, think of the Vines you’ll be able to upload!
My wife loves to send me pictures of our boys when I’m at work and ask me to tell her who’s who. My success rate is lower than a sausage dog’s midriff. All of a sudden I’m on the world’s most pointless game show where I cannot possibly win and there’s no prizes – if I get it right, it’s my son so I bloody well should do. If I get it wrong, guilt fills me quicker than my sons fill their nappies.
It’s important that they develop their own sense of self. My mate, who’s a twin, said he was convinced that his parents mixed them up when he was a toddler and he’d been living his entire life as his brother. At least I think it was him that told me this.
It’s tough enough growing up and finding your own identity and this becomes much harder when you share pants with your brother. I found it hard to work out who I was in school because we all had the same uniform.
There was a family with triplet boys that grew up near me as a child. They wore matching jumpers which led to a lot of the less eloquent youths on our estate calling each one of them ‘Triplet’ as if that was their forename. That can’t have been pleasant for them. Or their parents who we all dubbed ‘Mr and Mrs Triplet.’ It probably didn’t help that their jumpers were yellow and black so if the light was right and they walked in a certain way, it looked like a swarm of massive bees were coming to pollenate you.
So I won’t ever be dressing my twins the same, for all of the reasons above.
Except at Halloween, when I’ve already got my eyes on a couple of Stormtrooper outfits to flank me in my Darth Vader gear. Because I think we can all agree – they do look pretty cute in matching outfits…
Sam Avery is a stand up comedian and twin dad from Liverpool, UK. In between gigs, nappy changes and panic attacks he blogs at www.the4amfeed.blogspot.com and you can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
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The rate of twin births has risen 79 percent over the last three decades, and continues to increase. A mom of fraternal twins and a national guru on having two, Natalie Diaz launched Twiniversity, a supportive website with advice from the twin-trenches.
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Accessible and informative, What to Do When You’re Having Two is the must-have manual for all parents of twins.