There is just something about multiples that makes people stop and stare. I guess it's the "unique" factor. After all, how many people do you know who have multiples? Twins are becoming more common, but it's still somewhat of a novelty to see them. Higher order multiples are definitely a unique site. (Side note: I saw someone with a quad stroller at the mall right before Christmas. It was two wide and two deep. Seriously. They had triplets and a singleton that was a year or two older. Now THAT was crazy to see.)
I've learned that multiples are much more of a phenomenon outside of Utah. I guess we are just used to seeing lots of kids really close in age here. In the seventeen months since the twins' birth, we have taken them to Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Wyoming, and to Colorado four times. And they are always much more of a sensation when we leave the state. Outside of Utah, people literally flock around us to ooo and awww. In fact, our rental car was upgraded to an SUV in Kansas just because the person helping us thought the twins (who were about six months old at the time) were that cool.
So there are some serious benefits to having twins. Half the time, I feel like a celebrity. (Remember the flocking people congratulating me on my beautiful kids? It just makes me feel good.) The other half of the time, I feel like people think I'm some sort of superwoman (I'm not). ("Oh my goodness, I don't know how you do it.") But there are some seriously stupid questions I get asked, too.
Here's how it basically goes anytime I leave the house with the twins: I walk into the store. I have two children with me, who look exactly alike. They are the same height, roughly the same weight, and have all the same physical features. About 75% of the time they are dressed in the exact same outfit. Inevitably, someone walks up to me and says, "Oh my gosh, they are so cute! Are they twins?"
I want to just stare at these people. I want to say, "No, I just have two children who were born on the same day and look exactly alike." But I'm nice, so I smile and say, "Yup."
The curious fellow shopper stares at the twins for a moment. Thing 1 and Thing 2 make cute faces and babble in a most adorable fashion. The next question is almost always, "Are they identical?"
This is not such a stupid question. After all, lots of fraternal twins look identical, and lots of identical twins look fraternal. Mine are in fact identical, and most days they look it. "Yes," I tell them.
And then the next question comes. This most definitely IS a stupid question. "So are they boys, girls, or one of each?"
Um...really? First of all, they're dressed in obviously boy clothes. Second, do you know what identical means?
In case you don't, let me give you a quick run-down.
Fraternal twins: two eggs fertilize. As such, each child can be either sex. Boy/girl twins are ALWAYS fraternal. But you can also have boy/boy or girl/girl twins that are fraternal.
Identical twins: one egg splits into two. These twins are genetically identical, which is why they look so much alike. That means they are either both male or both female. It is impossible for identical twins to be boy/girl.
I am always tempted at this point to say, "Well I dunno, are your boys and girls identical? Next time you change a diaper let me know."
In defense of these seriously uninformed individuals, I got this question most frequently when the twins were much younger. It is hard to tell sometimes whether babies are boys or girls, especially if dressed in gender neutral clothing (as babies Thing 1 was dressed in green and Thing 2 in blue a lot so we could tell them apart). It was always the "one of each" after they knew they were identical that threw me. But now I do raise my eyebrows (because I am incapable of raising just one) when people assume one of my children is a girl. I dress them the same. They have short hair. Their shirts generally have cars or robots or tools on them. C'mon, people.
Again, I'm not usually a rude person (especially to complete strangers), so I just smile and say, "They're identical. Two boys."
We chat for a few minutes. How much did they weigh when they were born? How early were they? How long did they have to stay in the hospital? Did you have a c-section? Do they have similar personalities? Can you tell them apart? People are curious, and I am more than willing to answer their questions. My sons are my favorite subject to discuss, after all. But after having this conversation, people always say something that never ceases to confuse me: "I don't know how you do it. I could never handle twins."
I never know quite how to respond. Because the truth is, I do it because I don't have a choice. I have two little boys that require love and care, and I'm the only one around most days to provide that. And since the twins are my first children, I really don't know anything different. I'm sure when I have a singleton, I'll look back and say, "Wow, twins were hard." I'm in the thick of things and I say, "Twins are hard," at least a thousand times a day. But I don't know anything different. And twins are such a blessing, and that far outweighs the hardships. They are my kids and I love them and I wouldn't have it any different.
So to answer your questions, yes, they are twins. Yes, they are identical. Yes, they are two boys. And I love them more than anything in the world.
This video explains things pretty well. Every time I watch it, I almost pee my pants laughing. Enjoy!
TWIN MOM TIP: The questions can get frustrating and exasperating, to be sure. It's tempting to give snippy replies. Just try to realize people are curious and don't mean to be annoying. Smile, answer the questions as quickly and politely as possible, and move on with your day.