Twins are special – let’s just put it out there – no matter how many new babies there are in a gathering, passersby always zero-in on the twins. You just have to look. You want to look. It’s the double cute factor. With the boys being almost two, my husband and I have got used to it – the coos and pointing, and the ‘ah look, they’re twins…’.
And it’s all very lovely. Till it isn’t. Because here’s the thing – people say the dumbest, most thoughtless things and they say it to the twins as much as to me or their father. And then the attention stops being lovely and becomes downright annoying.
Here’s a list of the didn’t-think-before-opened-my-gob things people say to parents of twins:
1. I’d kill myself if I had twins. Really? Thank God you don’t then.
2. How do you cope? I could never do it. A watered down version of point 1. I’m not sure but we’re up and out so I must be coping. Are you offering to help so I can go home and wash my hair? What should I do if I’m not coping? Decide which one is a keeper and cut the other loose?
3. Are they natural? Are you asking if they’re IVF? Yes, they are (and I don’t mind talking about it though I’m not sure right now is the best time to outline my fertility shot schedule but ok…). Otherwise, they’re natural as can be. Two little people. Not robots, promise.
4. Here comes double trouble. Originality score – zero. Double joy? Double love? Double mess? Sometimes. Double trouble? Sometimes. But we don’t need you to point it, and not to their faces. And, since you’ve said it, it’s more like triple. Now, just smile and walk away.
5. Two for the price of one! No. Just no. They cost a fortune from day 1 and you don’t get to play the hand-me-downs game with babies of the same age.
6. Shame, they probably don’t get enough attention compared to one baby. And how many children do you have? I’ll bet this is the complaint of every child with a sibling. I give them as much attention as I can. Plus, they’ll be playmates one day, then they can entertain each other. Here’s hoping anyway.
7. They look exactly the same. In our case, they don’t and they’re not identical. They’re fraternal. Yes, they might be dressed the same (my bad) but, hey, open your eyes, people. Twins, not clones, coming through.
8. They are identical! They are! They are! You know what? You must be right. Not. Let me be clear – they were two separate eggs and I was there – IVF at a fancy clinic means I was actually aware of the exact moment of implantation and what was going into me. Two eggs. Two babies. One womb – mine. They are not identical.
9. You have to get them into the same routine or your life is over forever. Right. Thanks. Routine – I never thought of that. I’ve actually been trying to do that since they were born and I was averaging 2 hours of sleep a night, wondering where my pants were, and what the hell we’d just done to our child-free, vomit-free, scream-free lives. It’s been almost two years and it’s an imperfect system. The reason? They might be twins but they’re not robots. See point 2.
10. What do you do when they both cry at the same time? Weep. Definitely. That helps.
The point? As the boys get older and understand more, these kinds of comments are starting to piss me off. Some of them are mean; others just thoughtless. My boys don’t need negative attention. So, to all of those about to utter a version of these stock ‘twin responses’, kindly pedal your pedestrian opinions elsewhere, thank you very much. Or, to paraphrase our mothers’ generation – if you can’t say something nice, shut up.
Waleska is a freelance copywriter. For her day job, she specializes in corporate copy. She’s mad about books and the words that make them. On the home front, she’s married to a very smart man and has twin baby boys who rule the roost and her heart, which is South African born and Italian-made. At present, she can be found here – and here.