Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Don't all parents of twins do this?

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?


B said...

Ummm, I doubt it...but I'll be watching the comments just to check.

twins said...

I didn't color code as much, but for a few things. When they were infants (not 5yrs) Alex had the blue bottles and Nicky the other because they were on different formula. Then when they got older Alex had the blue and purle sippy while Nicky got orange and I forget. That way they didn't fight over each others drinks. As for plates and bowls they both get the same color at each meal, or they fight over their brother getting a the one they wanted. They now have a sippy cup for water and I wrote their name on each one (as they are the same color). When giving them their sippy cups I like to switch the them and watch them 'fix' it for me.

I would just try to 'relax' on the color issue and they will slowly start to switch colors.

Catfancy said...

Now that our girls are 13 YEARS old, it is fairly easy to tell them apart as they have developed different styles. (except when they trade clothes and both have their hair up in pony tails!).

But, when they were little, it was "Amanda Panda Pink!" Amy got whatever other color was available. We only did this for clothes and toothbrushes. Everything else (dishes, bottles, toys) was random.

Oh, when they were infants/young toddlers, we kept pink nailpolish on one toe on Amanda. That way, when they climbed out of their cribs and stripped naked to take a nap on the floor, we KNEW who was who!

Tarcoulis said...

We color coded bottles when they were very young to make sure each was getting enough formula and liquids. Now they seem to come to a mutual agreement over who will get which color item and it's not always the same colors. DDa has the pink shirt and DDb the purple but DDa has the purple doll and DDb the pink one.

Tony and Rett said...

I just did the same of everything at first. I was just TOO giddy to have twin girls! The girls STILL prefer to match (clothes, cups, etc) most of the time. However, a color preference has emerged. Laney is Purplicious and Abby is Pinkalicious. They are loyal to those colors and so if they get to pick out a new item at the store (toothbrush, flip flops, etc) they choose their respective colors.

We'll see how long it lasts until they change it all up on me!

Anonymous said...

I have never done this! Sounds like a lot of work, but my two boys are fraternal and look nothing alike, so we never had to use anything to keep them straight. We share everything- clothes, underwear, dishes, everything is just in one big pot, except they will not share shoes. It is pretty funny. Over time, they have developed their own preference for color, but it never occured to me to do this!

Although I was friends with a mother of triplets who did that with the bottles so she knew who was drinking what.

Red Sand said...

We do it - sort of. We don't dress them alike, certainly, except for things like raincoats that were a gift and therefore matched...

We didn't assign colours per se, although in some things we tended to follow a routine - ie DB got the blue bib and TT got the green.

Clothes are shared, so they get to pick on a daily basis which shirt and pants (from a selection of about three) they wear. Winter coats are different colours and they each have their own and they know which is theirs (for fun, I try to give them the wrong one from time to time, and they find that funny - Silly Mommy).

Some colours I have assigned semi-deliberately - I tend to give red to DB more, greens and blues to TT, but they also have their own preferences, especially for plates and cups. That said, we still give choices and they'll trade sometimes.

Even though they share most things, on any given day they'll be very aware of which bowl, spoon, cup, shirt etc. they are using, more aware than I am.

Catherine said...

We didn't plan to color code. Our girls at about 3 did it themselves. Pink for one and Purple for the other. They even assume any present that is pink belongs to the pink girl. It is much easier with girls to color code.

Jules and Danny said...

I don't know about others, but I would totally do the same thing! Bev might tell you that I'm a bit OCD though... lol

Sheila Holmes said...

Mine are boy/girl twins so there was lots of blue for boys and pink for girls. I tried to find every colour except pink but my daughter was pink all the way. Only now at 8 has she decided light blue is her new favourite - and everything she owns is still pink!

When my son started talking he would call his sister by HIS name, until he figured out they had different names. As kids grow they become individuals and decide who they are separate from their twin and separate from others. My daughter liked brocolli, her brother liked peas. Boys wear pants, girls wear skirts - every single day of junior kindergarten! It's all part of figuring out who they are. Don't worry about it; they won't remember having sippy cups let alone what colour they were.

The Cloutiers said...

sorry I'm late to comment..just found this.

while I was waiting to complete the adoption of our twin boys, I ran into a family that had twins that told me to keep their boys eaier to identify they ALWAYS dressed one boy in Green and the other in Blue.

I'll be honest. I found it strange. I kept thinking about kids needing to be exposed to a variety of colors etc.

We did try to use one sippy cup color for one and a different for the other...and that worked out well...especially since one boy always chews his tops to bits and its not fair to give the other a chewed up one that he didn't chew.

for us we do slightly different haircuts. When we first met our boys one of them had longer hair (a bit of a tail) and we kept up that tradition (nixxing the tail, but same idea). We can tell them apart, but no one else can so it makes it easier on everyone else. We say, "shorter hair, shorter name" to help people remember.

and now as far as clothes some days they want to match and others they want to be totally opposite...we let them choose their clothes (except on "important" days) and I think its neat to see what they come up w/ as far as outfits.

-jennifer (mom to Z and H)