Are They Twins? (Does That Question Bug You?)

Call me crazy but when my twins were babies and I took them out for a stroll in the neighborhood or on a trip to the supermarket, I actually enjoyed when strangers would stop and ask me, “Are they twins?” I was proud to show off my babies and not just because they were twins. As a new mom, motherhood was exciting to me and I was glad when someone else shared in my enthusiasm. The fact that they asked if they were twins was just icing on the proverbial cake as there was now so much more to talk about! Plus, as a stay-at-home mom whose girlfriends all worked outside the home, I often felt isolated being home all day alone with the kids so I welcomed any and all “adult conversation” even if it came from a stranger. Even now with my twins approaching the age of sixteen, I still like to engage strangers when they approach me to ask if my boys are indeed twins. I guess I’m a people person.

Yet as I peruse my favorite twin blogs and online parenting forums, I’m finding that I’m in the minority. There seems to be plenty of moms (and dads, too) out there who are just about fed up with the question, “Are they twins?” Some get downright peeved and come up with a less-than polite response. (“No. Who’s your eye doctor?”)

But I have another question: Why does it bother them?

identical toddler twin boys stand in a wheat fieldI ask because I’m a bit confused. To me, if parents dress their little cherubs exactly alike and take a stroll out in public, aren’t they asking for public attention? It’s like a billboard advertising their twinship, inviting the public at large to marvel at them. And who wouldn’t want to stop and ogle two babies in at once? Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways, dressing them alike to promote their twinship and then get annoyed when someone calls you on it. Yes, the question does get a tad annoying at times especially if one or both your babies are crying or you’re in a rush to get home in time for their afternoon nap. But should you really allow someone’s genuine interest and fascination in you and your twins ruin your day? Sour your mood? Turn you into a Grinch? (Please say no.)

For years, when I was out in public and I’d see a parent with twins, I’d always stop and chat. And, yes, my first question was always, “Are they twins?” From my point of view, the question was (and still is) merely an ice breaker. It’s a conversation starter. A rhetorical question, yes, but a way to say “hello.” But now when I see a mom in the supermarket and she clearly has multiples in her care, I never ask her if they’re twins as I don’t want to annoy her. I know better. So I just keep on walking by.

Pity.

As most people are just trying to be polite and engage in neighborly conversation, couldn’t you spare a minute and do the same? Yet if you still find that you just can’t take that question one more time, there are plenty of ways to throw people off the scent.

  • Dress your twins differently when you go out in public. Always.
  • Avoid eye contact, pretend you’re hard of hearing, or just smile and walk away.
  • If someone asks, “Are they twins?” Simply answer, “yes,” and keep moving.
  • If you can, bring someone else along and use two single strollers instead of one double stroller.
  • Don’t dawdle, saunter, loiter. Get in, get out.

 

8 thoughts on “Are They Twins? (Does That Question Bug You?)

  1. Nanner

    I don’t mind the simple “Are they twins”. Though there are typically several questions that follow….Girls? (no, I dress them in pink just to torture them and confuse everyone else LOL/JJ!) Are they identical? (to you, yes) Do twins run in your family (no.) Oh, you have your hands full! (well, not really until my older twins get home from school, then yes, they are pretty full.)
    What I really don’t like is when they touch them or bend over right in their faces and talk to them, because it instantly creates a totally-freaked-out baby or 2 who I now have to carry through the rest of the shopping trip (Grrrrr). But the one question I REALLY hate… “So you must be done now?” or, “Are you gonna keep trying for that boy?” Seriously. why don’t you just tell me what we should do with our family because you seem to think you have some wisdom to my life situation. And as if we were simply ‘trying for a boy’. If the conversation is too long, or I am on a schedule, I just talk while I slowly move by them…once you stop, you don’t know how long you are committing to chat!
    Sigh…
    For some really good laughs on the conversations we’ve all been a part of, I LOVE this youtube vid:

    Reply
  2. NIkki

    I agree. I don’t mind the “are they twins” question? The big double pram is hard to hide and even as a niece of twins, sister of twins and now mother of twins, I too am still drawn to and understand the fascination with twins… they are amazing! General twin questions are fine. But as Nanner said above, it’s the subsequent PERSONAL questions and comments that drive me crazy mad. I have boy/girl twins, with my son growing significantly slower than my daughter. Almost without fail, the “are they twins?” questions is followed by “Really? But she is bigger than him.”. The response I WANT to say is “You got me, they are not twins, I was just tricking”…. or maybe “wow, I hadn’t noticed that”…. or the truth, “You’re right. We are not sure why he is growing at a slower rate but it worries up a lot. We are following up numerous medical avenues and only hope that it is not something serious”. Instead, I grit my teeth and answer “yes, she is”. I have found this short, simple answer stops further questions.

    I don’t think you should stop talking to twin mummas. As you now, we are pretty special beings!!! But I have stopped asking “are they twins” and I say something like “aren’t twins great. How are YOU coping with having two babies?”.

    Reply
  3. Christina Baglivi Tinglof

    Thanks to Nikki and Nanner! And while I understand where you’re coming from as all those questions have come my way as well. But it still never bothered me as I know that people are just trying to be friendly and their comments are well-meaning. (I even had someone ask me if I was the Nanny because my boys were blond and blue eyed and I’m dark.) Besides, I’d much rather field those same questions over and over instead of, “Hey, Lady! Move that stroller out of the aisle! I’m trying to shop here!” as I have heard as well. Now, that’s a rude comment. (But Nanner, I’m with you–I drew the line at someone touching my babies. Don’t even try it!)

    Reply
  4. Cara (Twinthusiast)

    I agree, I don’t mind the question but sometimes get bothered when the line of questioning steers to “Do twins run in your family?” “Did you have them on purpose or by accident?” (I was seriously just asked this last week) and such. Most people just want to enjoy the novelty of seeing two babies at once, and who can blame them? Twins are darling. It’s just that we moms sometimes could use a grocery trip without being stopped.

    I always talk to other twin moms when I see them – it’s a nice bonding/solidarity experience and I certainly appreciate it when other twin mamas talk to me. The encouragement always brightens my day.

    Reply
  5. Hayley

    For me, it really depends on how much of a rush I am in and honestly how many times I have been asked during that particular outing. Sometimes I have been asked upwards of 10 times in an hour or two outing. I have 2 girls. I do not dress them the same. I also do not use a side by side stroller (which sometimes gets me by as it’s not until I am passing people realize I have 2 babies). “Are they twins?” ….I often want to say “No, one is 2 weeks older.” but I don’t….I just say yes. Depending on my mood and if I have time to chat or not I either stick around for further questions or I politely smile and walk away after my answer. I agree with the other moms, it’s the questions that come after that are annoying. “Do twins run in your family?” is common, but some are a little out there. “Did you plan it?” – I am sorry but this always confuses me and now I ask back “How do you mean?” as I am really not sure what I am being asked. I think they are dancing around asking if we had “help” conceiving. Our girls were spontaneous….which does seem to be more rare these days however when I get the comment “So they are natural?” it really bothers me. Are there fake babies running around out there? Are my friends twin babies any less special or any more special because they had help conceiving? Another of my favourites is “Who is older?”-really?? And probably the kicker….in a busy line at a clothing store..”Did you have them vaginally?”. Wow. Really. I think was in shock.

    I get it. Twins fascinate people. They are interested and want to understand, maybe even experience it. Maybe they are desperately trying to have a baby of their own and are having trouble and are looking to me to give them hope. In today’s reality driven world privacy is limited and our culture is becoming a need to know one. But sometimes I feel like we are a science project and I just want to go to the store, buy my groceries and go home and not have to be asked the same questions over and over. And that’s OK.

    Reply
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