April 23, 2024
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April 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

There are lots of little complications that people don’t think about when someone has twins. We’re just like, “Oh, so cute!” Because two of anything small is cute. That’s why little shoes are cute.

Even when they’re not babies, it’s always amazing to find out that someone you know is a twin, like you’re finding out that he has a secret life in a parallel dimension.

“You’re so lucky! You can switch off!”

When, at the bris? That would be a great practical joke.

People who aren’t twins are always telling twins about this joke, in case it hasn’t occurred to them. “You can switch off! It’s hilarious.”

I bring this up because my brother just had twin boys. (He also has another boy who is one-and-a-half and doesn’t know what’s flying, but is probably going to think now that all babies come in twos.)

There are definitely challenges to having twins. For one thing, you have to be able to tell them apart. Even fraternal babies can look alike at first. And in fact, some parents are afraid they’ll accidentally keep feeding the same one.

(Well, if you do, he’ll be heavier. Then you’ll know.)

And as parents, it’s your responsibility to know the difference between your twins, because everyone will look to you for the final say.

So as parents, you have to spend time in the hospital that first day or two just playing Spot the Difference. And then circling those differences in magic marker so you remember.

Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes Hashem makes one of them bald and the other one super hairy. Though that’s not always a good thing.

But if he didn’t, there are other tactics you can use. For example, you can sleep one closer to the window so they’ll be different colors. Of course, you can just have them wear name tags forever, like they’re at a baby convention. Or you can keep the hospital tags on them as long as you can. After that, if they’re girls, you can give them two different hairstyles, and if they’re boys, eventually one of them will walk into a table and you’ll have a permanent mark you can use.

There are good things about twins, of course. People try to be extra helpful. Everyone keeps buying you matching clothing.

“Um, thanks. We’re still trying to learn how to tell them apart. This will help.”

Another annoyance is that you always have to be clear which baby you’re talking about. You can never just say, “Pick up the baby,” which is a phrase that we all take for granted.

Another issue no one seems to talk about is that even once you come up with names, you have to figure out which kid gets which one. People are like, “It’s great! We’ll just name them Shmuel and Yitzchok!”

Ok, which kid is Shmuel and which kid is Yitzchok?

“I don’t know. Is it important?”

Do you just make a goral? Like Lashem and L’Azazel? You have a box, you put in two names, pull them out and put one on each kid…You can put in more than two names if there are more on the table. Then you tie a string…

So I asked a bunch of people who had twins, “How did you decide which name to give which baby?”

One person said, “Well, one was a boy and one was a girl, so I figured I should give the boy the boy’s name because that would be easier.”

And I said, “OK, you didn’t tell me you had one of each.”

Another person said, “I had two girls, so I named the second one Bracha, because twins are a bracha.”

Great. So then name both Bracha. What did you name the other one? Klallah?

That’s actually a pretty name until you think about the meaning.

So if they’re related names, like Berel and Shmerel, Berel is obviously the older twin, because as far as I know, Shmerel isn’t actually a name.

And the same goes with any cutesy twin names, such as Isser and Heter, or Hillel and Shammai. (“They’re always fighting, but it’s l’shem shomayim.”) As long as the names aren’t too similar because otherwise you’re going to mix them up.

When they’re different genders, it’s easier to give them similar names, because it’s not like people are going to get them mixed up as much. So you can go with, for example, Elimelech and Elimalkah, or Yonason and Yonadaughter. Or, if you’re giving them secular names for work, you can go with Bigson and Bigdaughter. Or Manny and Womanny.

But really, all these things aren’t even concerns for myself. This is all my brother’s problem. I’m worried for him. I spoke to him before the bris, and he said that he never really held both at the same time, so he didn’t know the differences yet.

So I said, “You’re naming them; you should probably know. Like for kesubah purposes.”

And he said, “They’re not getting married yet.”

He’s very last minute.

He does know that one was born heavier, because that’s a question that everyone asks when you have a baby: “How much does it weigh? We need to know! Well, actually, we’re just trying to make conversation, and we can’t ask how old it is.”

So really if he wants to tell the difference, he just has to pick both up, and do that careful thoughtful thing where you decide which one is heavier, and then you switch hands and do it again, and then you say, “This one’s heavier. Or he needs a new diaper.”

I did figure out a difference during the bris, though––it turns out they have very different cries. So if their older brother ever can’t tell the difference, he just has to punch them.

The younger one’s cry, as it turns out, is more high-pitched. It even took the mohel by surprise:

“Aah! Wait, who drew circles all over your babies?”

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