Sunday, September 19, 2010

Color Coded Kids (It's a Twin thing)

One of the first questions a Mother of Twins is faced with is weather or not to dress your children alike. There are pros & cons to both sides of this decision. I've known Moms on both sides of this discussion who go to the extreme to make their twins look as much alike as possible, or as different from each other as possible.

Most of the literature expectant Mothers of Twins find to read encourages you to allow your children to be individuals and yet still foster the bond they share with each other.

I know Moms with Twins who ALWAYS keep them dressed exactly alike! And you have to admit, there is nothing cuter than twins dressed the same! The problem with that is when one of your babies spits up on themselves, or has an accident, or spills food on their clothes you have to change two complete outfits EVERY TIME! That gets old!

There is also the train of thought that no two people are exactly alike, not even twins. And we should never try to lump them together as one unit (or person!) This belief system leads you to believe that no matter how cute it is, they should never look alike.

As the Mother of Beautiful Twin girls I fall somewhere in the middle! I recently Blogged about my baby girls starting Jr. High School, and mentioned the color of the clothes they were wearing in their first day of school pictures for both Pre-school & Jr. High. You can read it here. And it got me thinking about this issue once again. And something many Mothers of Twins do which is to Color Code your kids!

When I was pregnant with my girls I read books that told about families who's Twins looked so much alike they had to keep one toe nail of their daughters polished with the same color at all times, to know who was who. I guess then you'd just have to remember which twin had which color! :) Or they put bracelets on them at birth to differentiate between the two. But, as fast as babies grow that's a little scary to me!

My color coding happened kind of by accident. Well, not by design anyway. If someone bought us two of the same outfits, or on special occasions I would dress my girls alike. I also dressed my boys alike as babies & they were 16 months apart! It's just so adorable! I couldn't help it.

Though most of time I liked to dress my girls similarly, but not quite the same. Even when they wore the same outfit, I would put different color tights, shoes or headbands on them. But my favorite was dressing them in the same thing just different colors. Or in the same color, or fabric, but different styles!

And we've never had a problem telling our girls apart. At birth Erica was born with a little more hair than her sister Lexi. So people started calling her "Hairica" to remember that the one with more hair was Erica! But, it didn't take Lexi long to catch up. So that wouldn't work anymore.

One of our baby shower gifts were Pacifier clips. An invention straight from God! If you've ever had a child spit one out, or drop it out of a stroller, and panicked when you couldn't find it, you know what I mean! We had one that was pink & one that was purple. (Good choices for girls!)

Erica's was the Pink pacifier clip, and Lexi's was the purple one. I never thought much about it until one time as I was putting them in the nursery at Church and was explaining (like all moms do) what they would need. I always made it a point of pointing out who was who. And one of the workers said to me Oh we know "Lexi Lavender!" Knowing which pacifier clip they each wore (at all times!) made it easy for them to associate the color with the baby! Brilliant!

And so pink became Erica's signature color & purple Lexi's! People started buying them gifts in those two colors. That's just the way it was. Now of course you can't find every outfit, every toy, stuffed animal, Barbie doll, etc. in those two colors. So eventually it shifted to warm colors for Erica & cool colors for Lexi. If someone gave them outfits that were Red & Blue for instance, no matter which girl opened which package, everyone knew Erica would wear the Red & Lexi the blue! It's just the way it was.

I remember one shopping trip with the girls a few years ago, after their Birthday when they had their own money to spend. Like all girls they love picking out their own clothes. And Lexi found a dress she really, really liked but she decided not to get it, and when I asked her why not, she said "Well, I really like it, but it's Pink!" Meaning to her mind she couldn't wear it because it was her sister's color! I told her that's okay, your allowed to like pink too you know. But she wouldn't have it.

And over the years I've noticed this is the trend with twins. We had a family in our Church, years ago that had twin boys David & Drew, and their catch phrase was "Drew in Blue!" Zach has some good friends that are Twins and when ever I see them, though they are college age now, I know if one of them is wearing Green it's Ryan & the one in Blue is Christopher!

My girls almost never dress alike any more. Except maybe for Twin day at school. (But, sometimes even then they will each dress to match with their friends rather than their actual Twin!) But, whenever we look at pictures of them when they were really little and looked a lot alike, if we can't tell right away who is who, we look at the color of the clothes they are wearing, or of their head bands, or pacifier clips if all else fails, & we know right away who is who.

Sometimes when they are shopping and both happen to really like the same thing, they will start arguing over which one gets to get it, and I've been known to remind them, you know you both can get it, it's not unheard of for Twins to like or even wear the same item! And I almost always hear (in unison of course) "Oh Mom!" And they go on to decide who gets it! Or if they do get the same thing, like a pair of Jeans for instance, they usually wont wear them on the same day.

Their colors have shifted some over the years, Erica really likes Orange now & Lexi loves Green! (Notice how they still manage to stay within the warm & cool color schemes though!) I have friends who knew us when the girls were little & haven't seen them since, but when they get our Christmas card & family picture every year, they still know who is who due to the color they are wearing! If you are the Mother of Twins, or if you even know some Twins, you probably know exactly what I am talking about, if not, you might think how horrible it is to color code your children. But I would argue, would you rather go through life being forever called the wrong name, or worse yet, just being called "Twin?" It's only happened a couple times but I've heard people call out "Hi Twin" and I cringe. They are people, they have names! Use them. (Sorry, that was just a Mom moment!) And there are many worse things to be known for than what color you like to wear. And if I can help educate people on letting twins be unique & express themselves as individuals, while still celebrating the fact that they are a twin, and how special that is, then I've done a good thing. No matter what color it comes in!

I ran into my friend & her sons at a wedding shortly after I wrote this Blog post, and I told the boys I had mentioned them in my Blog. And of course they were wearing their signature colors, so I had to get a pic! Me with twins Christopher (in Blue) and Ryan (in green) still color coded! :)


hair accessories said...

If I would I have twins, I would probably dress them alike. However, I also love the idea of the color coding scheme because it can really be a helpful way to identify who was who among the twins.

C. JoyBell C. said...

I loved this article, Starry!

I especially loved viewing the photos of your twin girls, because they are just too adorable! Blue blue eyes like that!

I always wondered a little about the color coding of twins and how parents/mothers decide to or not to, do that! :)

Thank you for sharing! :)


Pam said...

I have to agree with C, your girls are just gorgeous! I have a friend with twin boys. Brian always wore blue and Scott wore red (scarlet). I can't tell you how much I appreciated that. I am can not tell them apart to save my life, especially if they are not together. They are 18 years old now and don't color code anymore. But Brian has a beard and scott doesn't. I hope Brian doesn't decide to shave!

Martha said...

Star, I have not been able to stop thinking about this blog about color coding since I first read it a week ago! I think as an exhausted mother of twins, I started color coding just to make life easier. When Ryan and Christopher were newborns, I could barely tell them apart (which means NOT AT ALL, but too guilty to admit). A very kind older nurse advised me to paint one of the boy's toenails as soon as I got home from the hospital, and then relax and cut off their hospital bracelets. So, that is what I did. Then, about the time the nail polish was wearing away, God gave Christopher a freckle on the side of his knee! Yay!

As they grew, I either dressed them the same or bought the same outfit in two colors. It was more convenience than a plan though. You know 18 years ago the selection in boy clothes was not that great. But when possible, Christopher wore red and Ryan blue. As they got older though, Christopher decided his favorite color was blue, and Ryan loved green. So, since they shared a room and closet. I think that is the way they kept their clothes separate. Now they each have their own room, and of course, not all of their clothing is blue or green, but they still always lean toward their favorites. As for the dress shirts/ties they only own that one! LOL

So, I'm not sure we actually planned to color code them on purpose for the rest of their lives, but so far, your blog has made me realize that is exactly what we have done! I love the picture of you with them at the wedding. Thanks for letting us be part of your story!

Love you!