Are they twins?
How do you do it?
A boy and a girl?
Oh, that's double trouble!
You must be really busy!
They stop me while shopping to chat, they ask personal questions about my pregnancy, the boys' conception, and make guesses about their personalities. They want the boys to smile, and wave, and say "hi." They guess at who is older, which I find ridiculous because they're basing their guess on the fact that Shoghi is bigger - as if being a minute older than your twin would contribute somehow to your size??
I try to use this as an opportunity to connect with people - to stop for a moment and breathe, and remind myself that in our busy society, most of the time we don't even look at each other, nevermind stop to chat with strangers. I want to model openness and patience to my children. I want them to learn to offer a friendly smile when people bend down to talk to them.
Sometimes, though, the questions and comments are less welcome. When I am running to enter a restaurant in the pouring rain, with one toddler in a carrier tied to my front, and the other in my arms on my hip, with my bag falling off my shoulder and rain dripping down my face, it would be nice if they'd just offer to help - to get the door or even hold a baby - rather than smiling and offering a mere "you've got your hands full".
Starting this summer, some have begun to ask me how close in age the boys are. When I say "one minute apart," they stare at me blankly before I add "they're twins." "Really?" they balk. "Yes, twins. They're fraternal, so it's just like two brothers in a family - except that they developed at the same time." "Wow, they look so difffffffferent," they say, not in an altogether kind way. Now that they've got a year under their belts, and their teeny-tinyness is gone, Shoghi and Max are obviously different. Shoghi is much bigger - two weeks ago, he weighed nearly 25 pounds, while Max was just hitting 20. Shoghi is about 3" taller than his twin. Max has straight, reddish hair and brown eyes, and Shoghi's got sandy, wavy hair and gray eyes. Max wears a size smaller in clothes and shoes, and soon, diapers, too, as I'm afraid I'm going to have to buy size large cloth diapers for Shoghi in the next couple of months.
But there's one more question I've been hearing a lot lately... and it's one that sits so strangely with me that even as people continue to ask, I continue to not know how to respond. Complete strangers ask me if Shoghi has Down's Syndrome. In fact, it's been happening enough that we'll be seeing his pediatrician to find out conclusively. You know, it's been quite a meditation for me. If he does have this chromosomal abnormality, he will still be exactly my same Shoghi. We will just know something different about him - albeit something that may have siginificant implications. My perception will have to shift, my expectations for how I will parent him may have to be altered. But in a way,that's just the life of a parent anyway - personalities, temperaments, learning abilities and styles, physical strengths and weaknesses... sicknesses and diagnoses; they all come with the territory.
But there's that part of me that's always hurt. Why are people asking me this? Even more - why do they think it's ok to ask me? Maybe it's the shape of his eyes. Our donor is Bolivian - maybe AmerIndian. Shoghi's eye shape has never seemed strange to me. In fact, he actually looks a lot like I did when I was his age. But still, having people ask me if my son has a possibly life-altering medical condition is - to say the least - uncomfortable. I hate that strangers make assumptions about my children, and while it's just a normal part of being a parent to discover that people do this, it has come as something of a shock. Why is it ok to ask something like that about a baby? Is it alright if I turn back to the same woman and ask if she is in menopause?
Just as I'm sure I'd have loved to have identical twins, I really adore the experience of having fraternal twins. It is an endless source of fun to have two such different children developing side by side. Whatever their similarities, whatever their differences, I am just so grateful to have them.
*top photo by Amy Crawford Photography