At the school where I teach, there are the most adorable set of identical twin boys. They haven’t been in my class, so I don’t know them very well, but I see them almost every day at dismissal as they are waiting for their mom. I’ve spent a (probably unnecessarily) long time trying to study their faces in hopes of being able to figure out who is who. I’m sure their mom can tell in an instant which one of the twins is Joey and which is Jimmy, but for anyone not in their immediate family this seems like an impossible thing to know.
Which makes me really sympathize for people who can’t tell my fraternal twins apart.
It’s just amazing to me that two people can look so much alike but are really as different as night and day. People will tell you to paint their toenails different colors or put an elastic band on their wrist so you don’t get them confused, but you won’t need any of those things. Whether you decide to dress them alike or not you will always know who is who.
So how do you tell twins apart?
There is no specific rule to follow when it comes to telling twins apart. You’ll recognize them by their newborn cry, the shape of their nose, by the position they’re in as they sleep. You’ll easily notice differences in their walk or their voice or the way they smile. With your own twins, you learn pretty early on how to tell them apart. And if they aren’t yours, you’ll learn their differences soon enough.
While we were still in the hospital in the hospital the medical bands placed on the girls when they were born helped us keep them straight. But, honestly, as soon as we got home we didn’t need those bands anymore. We could tell them apart by looking at the shape of Emily’s lips or of Madeline’s face. We got their ears pierced as soon as we could, which helped our relatives to know who is who by the color of their earrings.
But our twins, like all other children, are so much more different than simply having pink or purple earrings.
Emily wants to sit with you and be held on your lap for hours on end. There is a stubborn streak to her, especially if you want her to do something that she doesn’t want to do. And she is often content just playing by herself. Madeline is the adventurous one. She thinks nothing of leaping off of the couch or into the pool, regardless if there is someone there to catch her. She keeps tabs on Emily, calling for her when she’s not nearby. And, even though I try often, she is just not a cuddler. She is happy sitting next to me, but needs to be free to run off and play at a moment’s notice. Emily likes to go down the slide, while Madeline prefers the swings. Emily won’t walk on sand, but Madeline isn’t bothered by it. Emily is shy around new people, meanwhile Madeline says hi to anyone who looks her way. I could go on and on…
People always ask me how I tell them apart, and I’m not very good with my words so I never know what to say. Usually I look down and find some clothing difference like “Her shoe has a scratch on the toe” or “She’s wearing a red clip”, because I know that they just want some way that they can use to differentiate the girls. They want to be able to relate to the twins, and appreciate that kindness. I don’t get offended when people can’t tell my girls apart since they don’t know my girls like I do. As special as my twins are to me, I don’t ever want to make someone feel awkward. So I treasure up their unique little differences in my heart and beam with pride when people ask, “How do you tell them apart?” because I can’t wait to share how each one is wonderful in her own way.