Double Take: A Twin Story

By: Cheryl Maguire

I had been holed up in my house for three months like an apocalypse survivor, scared to venture into the world. Giving birth to twins will have that effect on you. My fear of leaving the house was mostly centered on the increased odds of at least one of them letting out a full-blown stage five crying fit or requiring a massive diaper change. I had no idea how to handle either situation in public. Plus, I could only imagine that my sleep-deprived face resembled a zombie that may scare small children.

But when I finally ventured out into the world, it turned out that no one was looking at me. They only noticed my adorable twin babies. What I wasn’t expecting was the amount of attention and questions I would encounter from total strangers.

The first time it happened I was pushing the double stroller, struggling to open the door to enter a store. A woman sidled up next to my stroller and popped her head in to get a better look at my little cherubs.

“Oh, aren’t they adorable! How old are they? Are they twins?”

“Thanks. Yes, they are twins. They are three months old.”

“Are they identical?”

This question caused me to panic. In my sleep-deprived stupor, I wondered to myself, “Did I accidentally dress both babies in the same color. If so, were they both dressed in pink or blue?”

Glancing into the stroller, I checked for the gender-identifying outfits. Sure, enough one was in head-to-toe blue while the other was dressed in head-to-toe pink. They both had cute little baby hats on and there was no mistaking the colors. The poor woman must be color blind. I decided to not draw attention to the issue, and I just answered her question.

“They are a boy and girl.”

“Of course they are! They are dressed in head-to-toe blue and pink but are they identical?”

Apparently, I did not answer the question and she is not color blind, but she possibly missed some basic biology lessons about how boys and girls do not have identical body parts so it is not possible for them to be identical twins. Should I have some fun or actually answer her question?

“Yes, they are identical,” I said. I couldn’t help myself. As I already mentioned after being confined to my house for three months, the incorrect information just poured out of my mouth.

“I can tell. They definitely look identical,” she said.

I felt like saying you might not be color blind, but you probably need to have your vision checked because they look nothing alike. They have different color hair (although they did have hats on so I’ll give her that), different shaped faces, different noses and they are a boy and girl but I merely smiled and said, “Thanks!”

I chalked that up to someone who probably failed ninth-grade biology class and needed an eye exam. But then it happened again and again and again! It happened so often I started to wonder if maybe they were identical, and it was me who needed to retake biology class or at the very least get some sleep. I knew I was severely sleep-deprived so it’s possible I was hallucinating the whole thing.

I then did what any sane person would do in my position, I Googled it. Turns out it is really common for parents of boy/girl twins to hear this question especially when they are babies. But I wondered, “Why?”

One Internet person surmised that, “people just don’t really understand what twins are.” Well, that definitely seems to be the case. As they got older, it happened less and less. And then when one grew bigger than the other people didn’t even ask anymore because they thought that they were just regular siblings.

It’s too bad that no one asks me if they are identical anymore because I finally thought of something to say. I guess I’ll just have to pass it along to other twin parents. It should put an end to the questioning immediately.

“They have identical crying schedules and their next one is happening in about five minutes.”


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