Oh dear, I think things may be a little odd around here.
It started with the clothes. No, wait, it started when, in order to be approved for twins, we had to do extra research, so we learned all about the importance of treating twins as individuals. I thought it would help with their separate identities if people could easily tell them apart. By dressing one twin in "cool" colours (blue, green, purple) and the other in warm (red, yellow, orange) everyone (including Mom & Dad) would always know who was who without the dreaded "Which one is this?" Then I started shopping, and discovered that 90% of boys' clothes is blue, so this changed to Vanh in blue, Max in everything else. Same thing with their bottles - we had 2 blue, 1 purple, and 1 green, so Vanh's were blue and Max's were "other". How else would we keep track of who drank how much?
Then we (they) got a positive TB test (pretty sure it was false positive, but that's another story) and had to take medication for 9 months. We were giving them the pills mushed up in their food, which they of course then refused to finish, so we had to have a way to keep track of whose leftover drug-laced applesauce was whose. It only made sense that the two blue bowls in the set be Vanh's, while Max had a yellow and an orange.
Thinking back we were on a slippery slope even then. But it was just such an easy way both to keep organized and to settle arguments. Whose Christmas presents? Wrap in blue or red. Whose toy? The blue one is Vanh's, the orange one is Max's. Whose highchair? Whose towel? Whose toothbrush? Whose crib? (In spite of the fact that our children have been sleeping in the same cribs in the same spots for over a year now, there are still times at the end of a long day when we rely on the colour coding, as evidenced by the fact that we have put them in the wrong crib when I mix up the sheets.) If blue isn't an option, then it's back to the "warm" versus "cool" division.
In November I noticed that the boys could identify their "own" bottles (and nobody made a comment - thanks a lot.) When I brought home red and blue chairs, I noticed they picked the colours I would have given them without any prompting. Then I tried mixing it up - yellow and green? Vanh took green, Max yellow. Yellow and orange? Max took yellow, and Vanh the orange car - with the blue wheels.
I never meant for anyone to get obsessed. In addition to individuality in the eyes of others, I wanted to give the boys a strategy for "sharing" as well as a sense that some things belong to just one. A comment from another parent of twins that I had to be kidding when I asked if his had individual dishes started me thinking that maybe not everyone does things this way, and that perhaps I should encourage a little flexibility in my children. So yesterday when they asked for water, I gave Vanh the orange cup and Max the blue cup. You should have seen them, standing in the kitchen, very carefully exchanging cups (something they have just learned to use) without spilling. They weren't upset or confused; it simply didn't occur to either of them to drink out of his brother's cup.
I will try to get that on video - but please - there must be other parents who do this?!!
Update: When I kept switching their cups to get their switchback on video, Vanh quickly gave up, Max not so much...
...and now that I think about it, did Vanh really deserve that thank-you?
6 months ago