With twins, complete strangers often approach me with completely random questions. Things normally sane people would otherwise never ask me seem to just pop out of their mouths before they can think. Something about twins makes people forget their filter or to think about what they will say next before they do so. It happens often in daily life, but on vacation it seems I can’t go ten feet without being stopped for questions.
On a cruise ship out of Amsterdam, traveling through Norway, we were surrounded by both older couples with families of their own and staff with large families at home. Everyone seemed to either have twins in the family or know twins. And they all wanted to tell us about them. I love hearing how well behaved and adorable our twins are, but hearing about other people’s ones when we’re on vacation can get old. Instead of getting sick of it, I began to enjoy not only the crazy stories packed with excitement that they had found other twins in the world, but also the completely insane questions that came with them.
These were my favorite.
It might seem pretty obvious that two identical children of the same age, in the same outfit, in the same stroller, are twins, so it’s surprising how often we get asked if they are twins. Sure, other parents dress non-twins of close age in the same clothing, so you can never be safe, but when they are exactly the same height and weight and mirror images, it might be a safe assumption that they are twins. Or we just picked up a second child who looked close because we have a love for stress. This is the most typical conversation starter, as in while waiting for the elevator door to close, someone yells, “twins!?” at us as we attempt to hit the door close button.
A boy and girl?
Again, they look exactly the same and are wearing the same outfit. Maybe their hair is a bit long, but it’s seriously exactly the same. How can one be different? We still don’t know if everyone thinks one of them is always the girl or it alternates. I don’t think we need to find out.
Pretty or handsome?
I actually like this variant we heard once on the trip. At least it was different than “boy or girl”. I’m all for dissolving gender stereotypes, but the boys were wearing “handsome dude” shirts with mustaches on them. Context clues people!
Were they buy one get one free?
This was maybe funny or creative the first time we heard it. On the 25th repeat of it within two weeks, it was time to move on. This isn’t how children work and I’m so sorry the public school education system failed you so badly. You see, when a mommy and daddy decide they really love each other…
Do they act the same?
At least this question has a hint of actual interest and curiosity in what life with twins is like. Unfortunately, the boys are a year old and mostly sleep, eat, and make strange sounds that frighten the dog. They haven’t exactly decided on career paths or life philosophies yet.
Who is older?
I don’t know why this matters to people, especially strangers. Many seem to believe they will glean some deep understanding of them by knowing the answer to this question. The answer is usually met with deep peering at the boys, then a sigh, and a “I knew it”, or “I could tell”. Dude, they were pulled out about 30 seconds apart. I don’t think that played a huge impact on them. The first one isn’t exactly more world weary than the other. I’ve never seen him take his brother by the shoulders and tell him the ways of the street. At least not yet.
Who is bossier?
Another question I don’t understand the background behind. What would this possibly tell the questioner? Again, they are one, so neither is commanding the other or subjecting him to his wrath. Sometimes they accidently crawl over each other when going for toys. Other than that, they mostly squawk at each other but seem pretty happy about it since they crack each other up. I guess we’ll find out when their mid-year performance reviews happen.
Were they a surprise?
This is a standard case of indirect question asking. What they really want to know is if the twins were natural or IVF. First, that’s rude. Second, it’s 2017 and ultrasound is pretty good. So yeah, they were a surprise at the first visit, but didn’t exactly pop out of a cake with the lights turned off.
I love this one. Apparently a case of somewhat lost in translation european phraseology, this is a great question. It’s so scientific and exact. It’s a bit like a combination of a recipe and biology class. Very German. Essentially, it means are they fraternal or identical twins. I like to answer, “yes, sunny-side up”. Europeans do not find this funny. Neither does my wife.
Absolutely my favorite question of the whole trip. Instead of asking if they are boys, they asked if they were bulls as opposed to cows. So amazing. I guess the alternative was to ask if they were a rooster or hen. Or a dog or a b- nevermind…
I think every parent gets asked bizarre questions by strangers that might not be considered appropriate in normal company. For some reason, going on vacation with twins seemed to only intensify this. For every wacky question, someone would tell us how great the kids were on the ship, how happy they looked, or how handsome they were. Those moments make up for the weird ones. So what’s the weirdest thing anyone has asked you about children?